Category Archives: Biography

Burning man festival

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By September of 2002 Andy’s pyramid scheme of companies was nearing financial collapse and bankruptcy because his debts were finally catching up with him and he didn’t have any money left to pay them.

I continued working ten hour days, splitting up my time between website sales, website design, customer service, computer repair and errand boy for all of Andy’s needs. One night as I was locking up the building Andy was in his office later than usual and I went to see what he was up to. When I walked into his office I saw 2 suitcases next to his desk.

“Going on a trip?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’m tired Jeremy, I got to get away from this place,” Andy said.

 “Where are you going to?” I asked.

“I going to go up to the Burning Man Festival next week for some fun in the sun,” Andy said.

The Burning Man Festival was a week long celebration for artists, musicians, hippies and everyone from the counter culture movement to get together, get naked and enjoy plenty of illegal behavior.

“Well have a good time,” I said, grinning.

“Don’t you worry I have the next payroll covered so everything is cool. I just need to get away to clear my head for a while and I guarantee that when I get back I’ll have more energy to run the company,” Andy said.

I said goodbye to Andy and went home to watch Wrestling with Brian, eat leftover pizza, drink Coke and forget about work.

In the back of my head a little voice kept telling me to find another job because working for Andy was burning me out and I needed a well deserved break but with a regular paycheck coming in every two weeks I didn’t listen to myself and kept up the crazy routine.

Over the next week Andy seemingly dropped off the face of the earth and we didn’t hear a word from him, I was happy to be free of his hectic energy so that I could actually finish one project that he gave me to do without him coming back ten minutes later to make me do something else.

Andy returned from his vacation at the Burning Man festival with a new tan, another new girlfriend and once again, a new business idea.

He asked Mike, Steve and I to met him in the conference room where he once again had the whiteboard out with indecipherable notes, diagrams and drawings written all over it and assisting him was his new girlfriend, Jenny, a “well built”, petite woman with long blond hair that he met through a swingers party at the Burning Man Festival.

Mike and I exchanged scowls because we knew what the meeting was about while all Steve did was stare at Jenny and tried to get her phone number.

“You guys won’t believe what happened to me last week!” Andy said.

“You became a Christian?” Mike asked, sarcastically.

“I had an epiphany at the Burning Man Festival!” Andy declared.

Mike sighed, “Alright, what was your epiphany?” He asked.

“When I was at the Burning Man Festival one thing that struck me was that nobody was making any money! Everywhere I walked I saw people entering different tents for things like food, restrooms, recreational drugs and sex and I thought what if we put our own event together and sell tickets! We could be rich!” Andy exclaimed.

“I’m out of here!” Mike said and got up to leave but Andy stopped him.

“Come on Mike, hear me out ok?” Andy said.

“It sounds like another bull shit money making scheme,” Mike said.

“Think about it Mike, if we had our own festival like Burning Man and we sold tickets for the week or weekend we could be rich in a very short time!” Andy said.

“Where would the event take place?” I asked.

“Good question, why not at the same spot as the Burning Man Festival?” Andy asked.

“Andy it will take at least one year to build this event before we can actually start selling tickets,” Mike said.

“That’s crazy talk Mike, we can have this event running and have tickets sold in six months. Come on guys, think about it. In less than one year this company will be flush with cash again but this time you guys will be able to kick back and plan the event every year instead of constantly chasing your tales to bring in a few bucks every month,” Andy said.

“Yeah that’s right!” Steve said, suddenly sounding like he’d been doing his job for the last six months.

I looked at Andy and was prepared to quit my job right there but the look in his eyes told me that he was desperate and needed to have us involved with his plans to support him as much as I needed the paycheck that he paid me every two weeks.

“What do you want me to do?” I asked.

“That’s awesome Jeremy! Your job will be to design a website for the event and start promoting the site with the search engines,” Andy said.

Andy spent the rest of the day motivating us on how great Pink Town was going to be and how it was going to change our lives and when the day was over we once again had visions of hundred dollar bills dancing in our heads and we dreamed about what it would be like to have one of Andy’s plans actually work.

I went home that night unsure of how far I was willing to go with Andy on this because I couldn’t see myself violating my own morals and values just to make a buck. Andy on the other hand was at a stage in his life where he would do anything to make money so that he could keep his pyramid scheme of businesses alive for another month.

Mike didn’t care what business opportunity Andy became involved in, as long as the new business opportunity brought in money, because at that point Andy owed Mike a lot of back pay and money that he borrowed to keep the company a float and Mike wasn’t going to go anywhere until Andy was able to pay him back in full.

And Steve still continued to hang around the office every day pretending like he was working and contributing to the company when in reality all he was doing was talking to his girl friends, arrange dates and somehow con Andy into paying him the occasional paycheck.

We worked hard to help Andy launch his Pink Town event while we also dealt with the day to day responsibilities of Andy’s other business ventures that he neglected since he became consumed with his dream of launching the Pink Town event.

I think Andy loved the actual process of starting a new business and getting it off the ground but once he saw the day to day work and sacrifice required to keep his new business running he quickly lost interest in it because it didn’t produce financial rewards for him fast enough and didn’t conform to his get rich quick dreams.

After a few weeks of meetings, teleconferences and business trips to potential event locations Andy came back to the office one day with the crazy look on his face that he got when he had a new idea and he called us into the conference room for another meeting.

“Guys, I’ve been working my ass off over the last few weeks trying to launch our event but I keep getting hit by financial road blocks and legal ramifications to getting our event off the ground,” Andy said.

“So it’s not going to work? I knew it was a stupid idea! Andy you keep spreading yourself too thin! When are any of your business ventures going to make any actual money?” Mike asked.

“Why don’t you lighten up Mike? Can’t you see that he’s trying hard?” Steve asked.

“Shut up Steve,” Mike said.

“Guys, I know now that the Pink Town event won’t work in it’s current form but, I have an even better idea on how we can make it work!” Andy said.

“Oh, God, not again,” Mike said, in frustration.

“We’re going to turn out Pink Town event into a charitable event for cancer!” Andy exclaimed.

“I’m out of here! I’ve had enough of this crap!” Mike yelled.

“Sit down Mike and hear me out! Come on just sit down and give me five minutes of your time ok?” Andy asked.

Mike sat back down at the table and pulled out a pack of cigarettes that he anxiously awaited to smoke.

“You have five minutes and then I’m gone!” Mike grunted.

“Alright, here’s my new plan, we’re going to turn Pink Town into a three day charity walk for cancer! We will hold it at the Del Mar Race Track and people will have to purchase tickets for the event!” Andy said.

“Why would anyone want to purchase tickets for a cancer walk?” I asked.

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“Think about it, there’s event’s like what I have in mind, every year where people pay to sponsor someone to walk or jog for some disease like Cancer, and these charities are making millions from these events!” Andy said.

“I don’t know, Andy, this idea sounds like it will fall flat like all of your other business ideas,” Mike said.

“You guys need to have more faith in me! I’ve already got the paperwork filed and have turned Pink Town into the Pink Town Foundation! Our charity is going to be for breast cancer and cancer research,” Andy said.

“You’re not serious? You actually turned Pink Town into a charitable foundation?” Mike asked.

Andy pulled out a big binder filled with legal paperwork and slid it across the table to Mike.

“I got all of the required paperwork filed last week by my lawyer, I still have to pay the lawyer for his services but hopefully we can soon start selling tickets and luring sponsors for our event,” Andy said.

As Andy talked I suddenly remembered that Andy’s lease on the building was going to be up in one month and we would have to move out of the building soon.

“Andy, I thought our lease on the building was set to expire? Don’t we have to move out next month? Where is the new office going to be?” I asked.

“That’s a great question. I’ve been thinking on this for a while and have decided that I want all of us to work remotely from out homes. Why do we need an actual physical office when we can work out of our homes? Think about it, we won’t have to commute to this office anymore and can communicate with each other by phone or e-mail if we need to,” Andy said.

“But that means that we will have to set up or own home offices and have expenses associated with that,’ I said.

“Don’t worry. I’ll compensate you guys for your office expenses. I can’t keep paying rent on a building we’re barely using and if I’m going to be able to get the event off the ground I need to save money any way I can,” Andy said.

“You still owe me a lot of money Andy,” Mike said.

“Me too, you haven’t paid me a salary in month,” Steve said.

“Don’t worry guys, I’ll cover any money that I owe you after we start selling sponsorships and tickets for our event,” Andy said.

“You sound like you already have a date set and everything,” I said.

“I do, the date is April 18-20 2003 at the Del Mar Race Track,” Andy said.

“How did you reserve the date so fast?” Don’t you have to pay money to reserve that date and also get the required permits with the city?” I asked.

“Don’t worry guys, we don’t have to pay to reserve the track right now, we can worry about that once we start selling sponsorships and tickets for the event,” Andy said.

This sounded like a typical Andy business plan. He was always looking ahead to the money that the new business venture was going to bring in before the business was actually set up and running.

Mike and I gave Andy a thin commitment that we would continue working for him and help him launch his charitable event and Steve promised to continue working for Andy even though Andy wasn’t paying him and had no idea what work Steve actually did for him. After the meeting was over I went out to lunch at Black Angus with Mike and we discussed the future over a big lunch.

“Andy’s lost it and I’ve had enough, I can’t continue working for him when I could be making real money, working in a management position elsewhere,” Mike said.

“I agree, I think that working from our homes will only give Andy more of an excuse not to pay us every month,” I said.

“You’re right, you need to earn a paycheck more than I do so you better start looking for a new job soon,” Mike said.

I sighed, and knew that Mike was right, I had been working for Andy and his pyramid scheme of companies for over one year and had gained a lot of one the job business experience and had seen my work responsibilities increase without getting a raise in pay.

Finding another job would be a tough decision but I knew that I had to start thinking about it unless I was going to continue getting sucked along in the whirlwind that was Andy’s life….

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A few months later and another business..

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After the new company had been off the ground for several weeks, I began selling websites and was soon able to cover my own salary and expenses in the sales department.

This excited Andy, and gave him hope for the future but since Mike and Steve weren’t making sales of their own the company was still losing money and Andy started looking for another business venture to “bail out” the website business.

Andy disappeared for a few weeks and only stayed in contact with Tina, his assistant. We didn’t think anything of this because he had been gone before for long periods of time. When he finally returned three weeks later he had a new girlfriend and a new business.

“What do you guys know about microdermabrasion?” Andy asked one morning as Mike, Steve and I sat in his office.

“That’s when they scrape the dead skin off your face isn’t it?” I asked.

“That’s right, it is! I’ve been in Dallas for the last few weeks, I’ve invested in a microdermabrasion business, became certified in the process and we are going to start selling it!” Andy said with excitement.

“Andy, where did you get the money to invest in another business?” Mike asked.

“I sold the office building!” Andy said.

“You sold the freaking office building?” Where are we going to have the company headquarters at?” Steve asked, suddenly sounding very businessman like. Mike and I wondered if Steve was a male gigolo because even though he was earning a small salary he wore the best clothes, jewelry and always had women in his office.

“We have 6 months left in this building and afterwards we’re going to consolidate and move to a smaller location,” Andy said.

“What does microdermabrasion have to do with websites?” Mike asked.

“It’s simple; we can use the website product to promote the microdermabrasion product!

I’m going to an adult entertainment convention in Las Vegas next month to promote the microdermbrasion product and also see if we can design websites for actors in the porn industry. Hell, you guys should be selling websites to porn actors already! Think how huge that could be!” Andy said.

“Andy, why didn’t you invest the money you got from the building into the website business?” Mike asked.

“Mike, the microdermabrasion business is hot! This business has potential to make huge profits! I want you and Steve to market it!” Andy said.

“What about me? Where do I fit in?” I asked.

“You will be fully in charge of the website business and can also use our website product to design a website for me to use in the microdermabrasion business!” Andy replied.

Andy’s excitement was infectious and once again we saw ourselves making lots of money when the company was flush with cash once again.

“Don’t worry about Andy, he will take care of all of us financially when the company gets on it’s feet,” Mike said one day after I asked him if there would ever be financial bonuses in our future.

After the meeting was over I went back to work selling websites while Mike and Steve went to work marketing the microdermabrasion product. Andy set up a microdermabrasion “clinic” in an old office in our building with the hopes that once a client had the treatment done they would be coming back for regular microdermabrasion treatments.

Andy’s new girlfriend volunteered to be his model and they took off for the adult entertainment convention with high hopes for sales and profits. Andy returned from the convention a week later with a stack of business cards but no microdermabrasion or website sales.

“This microdermabrasion product is harder to sell than I thought,” Andy said.

“Every business takes time to get off the ground Andy, look at the website business, it took a few months to get off the ground and now I’m able to cover my own salary and expenses,” I said.

“Yeah, but overall my companies are losing more money than we have coming in every month and I have a major IRS bill that due and I have no idea how I’m going to pay it,” Andy said.

This wasn’t news I wanted to hear, because after working over ten hours a day for months to get the website business off the ground the company was still on the brink of collapse financially and all my hard work would be for naught.

“Just give it time Andy, stick to your business plan and the microdermabrasion business will turn around,” I said.

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“What business plan? I’ve never written a business plan in my 20 years of business and I’ve made over 20 million in profits,” Andy said.

“Yeah, but look where you are today,” I thought.

“Maybe I should hire a person to sell the microdermabrasion product? Yeah, I think that’s what I will do.” Andy said.

Andy got a wild look in his eye and ran out of the sales office with the same excitement that he had for his full body massage appointments. I went back to work and continued focusing on my job and tried to not think about the impending financial doom of the company and the possible loss of another job.

One week later Mike, Steve and I had another meeting with Andy and he introduced us to his new outside sales rep, Katrina, who would be responsible for selling the microdermabrasion equipment, supplies and treatments to beauty salons countywide.

Katrina was in her early 20’s, had long blond hair, well built body and would be an asset to Andy and help him sell the microdermabrasion product to clientele where youth and beauty mattered.

The only thing about Katrina was that behind those good looks, she was totally clueless and had no idea what he job in the company was other than to sit around and look pretty in her office all day.

“Guys, this is Katrina, she’s going to be our new head of sales for the microdermabrasion product. She’s also a Scorpio, likes red wine, and has a funny giggle if you tickle here….”

“Oh, Andy, stop..” Katrina giggled.

“Anyway, guys, she’s going to help us sell the new microdermabrasion product and I want you guys to show her the ropes,” Andy said.

Andy left the conference room for conference call he had in his office and Mike and I went back to the sales office while Steve stayed in the conference room chatting with Katrina.

“So, do you like sushi? I know a place downtown that we can hit after work,” Steve said.

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“I like totally love sushi! My girlfriends and I go out for sushi at least once a week!” Katrina said.

“You have girlfriends? Maybe they can come along?” Steve replied.

Once Mike and I were back in the sales office he launched into another one of his tirades about Andy and his stupid decisions.

“I knew it! He only hired that girl because they are sleeping together! That’s just great, now we have two idiots that are supposed to be doing outside sales for this company!

We’re going to be out of a job thanks to them! I don’t know what possessed Andy to invest in that business in the first place, why didn’t he take the money and put it into the website business? What an idiot!” Mike said.

“Calm down Mike, I’m sure it will work out,” I said.

“It’s not going to work out, Andy wants me to market the microdermabrasion product, what do I know about microdermabrasion?” Mike asked.

Mike was right, what would an overweight, chain smoking sales manager know about microdermabrasion? How would he market the product when all he knew was the life of a sales manager and the world inside his little office.

Later that day Andy pulled me away from selling websites and made me work fulltime on designing a website for his microdermabrasion business. I used our new do it yourself website product and was able to have an e-commerce website online in a matter of days to sell the skin creams and other microdermabrasion products.

A few weeks later it quickly became clear to Andy that all Katrina was doing every day was flirt with Steve and talk on the phone to her girlfriends he fired her.

This put added pressure on Mike, Steve and I because since no microdermabrasion sales were coming in Andy became desperate and starting looking to cut costs, sell off excess office equipment and bring in money any way he could.

I focused harder than ever on selling websites and was able to keep selling when I could but I kept getting pulled away from selling by Andy when he needed to use me to help him on another project for one of his other businesses.

Andy eventually stopped paying Steve a salary and promised to pay him 80% commission if he sold something, which never happened and he became indebted to Mike when he had to borrow money from Mike to pay the electric and phone bills to keep the company afloat.

Every night I went home exhausted from work, too tired to work on my art or do anything creative because after working ten hour days, week after week I didn’t have the energy to do anything when I got home but lie on the couch and watch TV.

Andy tried to get more control over his company and actually sold the microdermabrasion products and websites himself for a time but any new revenue that he brought in quickly went out the door to pay bills, salaries and other expenses and with our final month in the office building fast approaching he became desperate for the “magic bullet” that would turn his company around and make him a rich man once again.

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Living on the edge

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During my first month at Cashwave I worked hard and was hopeful that my job at Cashwave would last for more than a year and slowly became optimistic that I would be able to get financially stable enough to have a social life and invest money into my art and start selling the artwork I had made over the previous years.

My job at Cashwave was very easy, all I was required to do every day was call businesses in the area where Cashwave ATM’s were located and sell them low cost advertising that appeared on the ATM screen when the customer transaction was being processed and on the ATM receipt after the customer finished their transaction. It was an easy sell and I quickly caught on and became very successful at it.

I enjoyed making easy money at Cashwave and looked forward to going to work every day when one day the easy money stopped and the company future didn’t look very bright. 

I arrived for work one morning to find all of the employees up in the conference room for an emergency meeting that Andy had called. Everyone was over anxious because Andy hadn’t heard from or seen Andy in weeks and we weren’t sure why he called the meeting and what his important news was going to be.

Andy arrived to the meeting looking tired and more worn out than usual and all of the employees became silent with dread as we sensed that he had bad news to tell us.

“How’s everyone doing?” Andy said casually.

“Doing a lot better than you, are you sick or something?” Mike asked.

“It’s nothing that a bottle of Scotch can’t cure,” Andy said with a wry grin.

Everyone in the room laughed.

“Anyway, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I’m here to tell everyone today that Cashwave is going out of business,” Andy said.

The room fell deadly silent as the employees around the room began to contemplate Andy’s announcement and what it meant to their financial futures.

“As everyone knows after 911 Cashwave lost a lot of business due to several of our big customers going out of business and the domination of the ATM market by companies like E-Trade Financial. I’ve also lost millions in costly lawsuits and protracted litigation and my finances are severely drained.” Andy said.

“You’ve been living on the financial edge for to long now Andy. You can’t afford to keep it up much longer.” Howard, the accountant said.

“What are you saying Andy?” Mike asked.

“I’m saying that all employees of Cashwave are going to be laid off immediately until further notice,” Andy said.

“What about the ATMS that we still own? Who is going to service those machines?” Mike asked.

“I’m in the process of selling off those contracts to E-Trade so I can save what assets I have left like this office building.” Andy replied.

“What am I going to do? My husband is laid off and I can’t loose this job,” The secretary said.

“I’m so sorry. If I don’t reorganize my business now I won’t have any opportunity left to rise from the ashes in the future,” Andy said.

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Andy liked to think of himself as a mythical Phoenix that rose from the ashes after it burst into flames. This wasn’t the first time one of his business ventures had gone down in flames and it wouldn’t be the last.

The meeting continued for several more minutes as Andy answered questions from the employees until everyone was allowed to leave to clean out their desks and go home.

As I left the room Andy called Mike and Steve, the outside sales manager back into the conference room and he closed the door.

I didn’t think anything of their private meeting because I was depressed like everyone else at the prospect of losing another job and I walked back to the sales office to clean out my desk of one month and go home. I quickly cleaned out my desk and talked with Herb and Lupe about what they were going to do for work next when Mike walked back in the office looking grim and more stressed out than usual.

“Did Frank already go home?” Mike asked.

“Yeah he’s gone, it’s not like there’s anything for us to do here,” Lupe said.

“I’m sorry guys, I didn’t see this coming,” Mike said with sadness.

“What are you going to do now?” Herb asked.

“I don’t know, probably cash out all of my credit cards, sell my Corvette and spend the next 20 years on an island somewhere,” Mike said.

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“Sounds nice, can you take me with you?” Herb asked.

“I’ll send you a postcard,” Mike said.

“I can’t believe I have to find another stupid job again! I hoped that this job would at least last me for one year and it’s barely lasted me for a month,” I said.

“Well everyone, Andy asked me to close up the sales office so I got to lock things up,” Mike said.

“So you’re kicking us out too?” Lupe asked in mock surprise.

“No Lupe, it’s not like that. I love you guys.” Mike said.

“Come on guys, let’s get out of here and let Mike close up the office,” Lupe said.

As I prepared to leave the office with everyone Mike stopped me from leaving the office, closed the door and locked it.

“What’s going on Mike?” I asked, surprised.

“Jeremy, how do you feel about staying with the company for a little longer?” Mike asked.

“Doing what? We can’t sell ATM advertising anymore because Andy has sold all of the ATM’s,” I replied.

“The reason why Andy had that private meeting with Steve and I upstairs is because he’s going to start a website company and wants us to stay on and help him run it,” Mike said,

“What does that mean for me?” I asked.

“You have the most experience in the sales office with computers and the Internet, you pick up new concepts easily and I don’t think you will have any problem selling Andy’s website product,” Mike said.

“How much will the position pay?” I asked.

“Same as now except you will have the opportunity to earn more commission after the new company has been afloat for more than 90 days,” Mike said.

“Did Andy say he wanted me to be a part of the new company?” I asked.

“I’m the sales manager and can hire anyone I want.” Mike replied.

“What about Herb, Frank and Lupe? Don’t you want to keep one of them aboard because they’ve been with the company longer?” I asked.

“Jeremy, I want you because you have the youth and energy that they don’t have and most important of all you have the computer and Internet skills to help us launch the new company,” Mike said.

I sat down in my chair acting like I was seriously thinking about Mike’s offer when in reality I would jump at the chance to help start a new company.

“What do you say?” Mike inquired.

“I’ll do it if he gives me a raise to $13.00 per hour plus commission,” I said.

“You’ve only been with the company for over a month, you can’t ask for a raise already,” Mike said.

“It’s a new company and it’s going to require a lot of time and commitment,” I replied, smugly.

“Alright, alright I’ll talk to Andy and make sure he gives you a pay raise to $13.00 per hour plus commission,” Mike said.

I got up and shook Mike’s hand with a big smile on my face.

“If you use half the skills that you used to work me over for a pay raise you’re going to be very successful selling websites,” Mike said with a laugh.

“When do we get started?” I asked.

“Tomorrow morning, 8 a.m. We’re going to have a meeting in the conference room so don’t be late,” Mike said

“I won’t be late!” I said.

I put my things back in my desk and left the office unsure of what the next day would bring and was optimistic and excited at the thought of being a part of the new company and a bright future.

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On the job training

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Anytime I’ve looked for a job over the last few years I’ve had my best success using the good old local newspaper. Shortly after I was laid off in October of 2001, I sat at the kitchen table, in the duplex that I shared with my cousin, circling job ads from the “help wanted” section of the newspaper.

I was circling every interesting sales job and telemarketing job I could find when I came across an ad for a telemarketing position, with a company called Cashwave, selling ATM receipt advertising to businesses nationwide for a local ATM company in San Diego.

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The job sounded more interesting than calling homeowners to sell them long distance calling plans, cable TV, windows or vinyl siding so I decided to give the phone number on the advertisement a call.

The line rang for a few seconds and then a gruff voice answered the phone.

“Cashwave, this is Mike, how can I help you?” Mike said.

“Hello Mike, my name is Jeremy and I’m calling about the telemarketing position in the newspaper,” I said, trying to sound positive.

“What do you want to know?” Mike said.

“What would I be doing, where is the company located and how much does the job pay?” I asked.

“You will be selling ATM advertising service to business owners nationwide. Any business that has a product or service will want to advertise on our ATM receipts because as you know, after a persons ATM transaction is finished they receive a receipt and that receipt is usually blank but has the potential to hold one to two ads,” Mike said.

“That sounds great, what does the job pay?” I asked.

“$12.00 per hour plus commission and benefits after 90 days,” Mike said.

“Can I come in for an interview?” I asked.

“Do you have any sales experience?” Mike asked.

“I can sell ice boxes to Eskimos in the winter,” I said.

“Typical bullshit salesman answer, what are you doing at 1 p.m. today?” Mike asked.

“Interviewing with you?” I said, with hope.

“You have guts, I like that, I’ll see you at one p.m. today okay?” Mike said

Mike gave me the address and directions to Cashwave’s office in San Diego and I promised to be there for the 1 p.m. interview.

I hung up the phone and took a quick shower and then emptied out my closet, looking for my old suit coat and tie so I would look dressed up and professional for the interview.

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By 12 p.m. I got into my beat up 1987, Toyota Celica and drove to my interview hoping to get there early and make a good impression on Mike and be his pick for the new sales person in the company.

When I arrived at Cashwave’s office I was impressed, the company owned a large office building in the Mission Valley area of San Diego, over looking the 8 freeway.

I parked my car next to several trucks with the Cashwave logo on them, straightened my tie, looked in the mirror to make sure I didn’t have any boogers in my nose and I went inside for my interview.

Inside the building I walked to the receptionist’s desk and told the old woman working the desk that I was there for my 1 p.m. interview with Mike.

“Kinda early aren’t you?” She asked.

“It’s 12:45, It’s not that early,” I said.

“I hate it when people arrive early for appointments,” She said, as she paged Mike in the sales office.

I walked over to a chair by the elevator and waited quietly until Mike came downstairs in the elevator ten minutes later to show me to the sales office. Once inside the sales office Mike showed me to his desk and he began the interview, interrogation process.

“So, why do you want to work here?” Mike said lazily as he glanced at my resume.

“From our phone conversation and the ad in the paper, the job sounds like a good opportunity,” I said.

“You don’t have any experience,”

“I know that I haven’t worked in sales for years like a lot of the other people that you interview every day but, I’m a hard worker, fast learner and I’ll work my butt off to learn this job,” I said.

Mike put my resume down and looked me in the eye and said, “You’re hired, I wish I could find more salespeople like you that don’t think they know everything when they start working here because those people are always the one’s that end up causing the most trouble.”

“I breathed a sigh of relief and said, “When can I start?”

“How about tomorrow at 6:30 in the morning?” Mike asked.

“I’ll be here!” I said, excited to start a new job.

Mike showed me around the sale office and introduced me to Herb, a man in his late 50’s with a love of Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis, Lupe, a small Mexican woman in her mid 30’s with five children, and Frank, a man in his early 60’s, semi retired, with a love for nudist camps and the swinger lifestyle.

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Mike showed me to a desk with an old computer from the mid 90’s and a telephone that I would use to make my sales calls.

“Well, this is your new home, away from home. I would stay far away from Frank after lunchtime because he loves bean burritos and has a bad habit of stinking up your side of the office,” Mike said.

Mike showed me out of the sales office and left me with a warning, “Just make sure you show up tomorrow, I can’t tell you how many salespeople I’ve interviewed that said they were going to start working for me and end up flaking out on me.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow by 6:30 a.m.,” I said.

The next day would be my first day working for Cashwave and also my first experience with Andy, the owner of the company and the true incarnation of the term “crazy boss”.

Andy drove many employees of Cashwave away with his wild management style and pension for starting new companies to keep his existing companies out of bankruptcy.

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Nobody in the company knew what Andy was thinking from one minute to the next and wasn’t surprised if he was away from the office for weeks at a time, only to return with a new girlfriend, and a business idea that would keep the company afloat, and potentially make him another million.

Little did I know that Andy was planning to start another company, launch a new product and I was going to be there right in the middle of everything, like it or not….

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The plan comes together

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Friday morning came sooner than I anticipated and once again, I found myself driving to her house in the early morning hours. Except this time I was really going to see her again.

I made it to her neighborhood and parked far up the street, out of sight from traffic. I prayed that nobody in her family knew that we were meeting. I waited for what seemed like hours, but of course, it had only been minutes when a knock on my car door jolted me awake. I realized that she was here.

I opened the door and she got in.

We wrapped our arms around each other, and kissed intensely for minutes, then started to talk.

“My parents are ready to move,” She said.

“When?” I asked.

“In a few weeks, they are planning on moving the entire family just before Christmas. My father can’t wait to get out of California. All he talks about every day is how you betrayed him and how the church turned its back on him.” She said.

I was sick of hearing about Fred. I had tried to contact him for over two weeks via e-mail, letter, fax and telephone but he had completely shut me out, refusing to talk to me.

“What about you, Becky? What do you want?” I asked.

“I want to be with you. But I don’t want to disappoint my parents or leave my little sister.” She said.

“Becky, there comes a time in life when you have to fight for what you believe in, do you love me?” I asked.

“Yes, with all of my heart,” She replied.

“Then let’s not waste any time; let’s get married,” I said.

“You mean elope?” She asked.

“Why not?” I said.

“My family will be so disappointed when they eventually find out,” she said.

I laughed and said, “Becky, they don’t give a damn about you. All you are is free labor and childcare to them! Just look at what your fathers done to you! To us,” I said.

“She looked down, and said, “I know, I know.”


 

“It’s just that this isn’t how it was supposed to be,” She regretfully noted.

“I was supposed to get married by my father in the church, in my wedding dress, with my family standing by, and now we have to sneak away to do it,” She said mournfully.

“Becky, at least we will be together!”  If we don’t elope soon, you’re family will be gone in a few weeks and I will never see you again and our relationship will really be over.” I said.

“Do you want that?” I asked.

“No,” she replied.

“Then let’s get married. If your family is leaving soon, then lets get married next week.” I said.

We looked at each other for a few seconds, registering what I had just said. We were actually solidifying plans.

“Okay,” she said.

“Are you really sure this is what you want?” I asked.

“Yes, I love you with all of my heart and want to be your wife.” she said.

We settled on the November 3rd 2000 as the wedding day because it would be a Friday and we would have the entire weekend to spend on our honeymoon.

“I’ll meet you in front of your house at five in the morning, be prepared, you will need to have your bags packed and ready because after we’re married, you’re not coming back here.” I said.

“Jeremy, we should get married at a justice of the peace, far away because I guarantee that once they realize that I’m gone they will call every courthouse and justice of the peace in the city looking for me.”

 “Becky, don’t worry. I’ll find a justice of the peace so far away that they will never be able to find us,” I said.

We looked at each other hungrily, knowing what we both wanted, unable to satisfy our hunger for each other because our time was precious and someone from her family could come looking for her, any second.

We kissed for a few seconds, and then she pushed me away and said, “I better go.”

“I’ll see you on November 3rd at 5 a.m. in front of your house,” I said.

“If any of your plans change, write me a letter and I’ll get it from our secret spot,” I said.

She caressed my face for a second and said, “Don’t worry, I will be there.”

We kissed again and she vanished out of my car, and was gone.

It was going to happen. Our marriage wasn’t a far off event anymore. We were going to marry in the next two weeks, and be together as husband and wife. Would our plans work out? I would soon find out.

Over the next two weeks, I lived in a dreamlike state because we continued our letter exchange routine in the early morning hours, in front of her house. In writing each other, we planned out the wedding details, like the justice of the peace, time of the ceremony, honeymoon destination and, most dauntingly, the call to her parents after we were officially married.

My parents told me that until I could get my own apartment, we could live with them in their house. So they spent the next two weeks buying every kind of furnishing and supply a married couple would need to start out. My parents, sister and my Grandma Hyatt were excited about my impending marriage and wanted to be there, at the justice of the peace to witness the ceremony.

I still couldn’t believe that it was going to happen. As November 3rd approached, I was so excited, that I couldn’t sleep, eat, work, or think. After all of the struggle with her family over the previous month, we were getting married and there was nothing that they could do about it.

The night before my wedding day, I sat alone in my room, staring at myself in the mirror, questioning my decision.

“Am I ready to become a husband? Am I rushing into something that isn’t going to work?” I asked.

I looked at myself in the mirror and wondered where the 18 year old kid had gone and who this 24-year-old man was staring back. Why was my life always full of ups and downs like this? Why did I always have to struggle?

I felt overwhelmed, looked at the clock, realized that it was late and went to bed.

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It wasn’t over

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The next day, I woke up, and knew that I had to pull myself together and go to work.

I felt like a semi truck had just run me over and I didn’t think I could go back to my normal, daily life after what just happened.

For the next week, I alternated between hope, grief, sadness, anger, and back to hope again.

My old friends came around and comforted me trying to pull me out of my depression but nothing worked.

The following Saturday morning, my mom opened my bedroom door and woke me up to say that Becky was on the phone and that she wanted to talk.

I ran to the phone and said, “Hello,” without quite believing that it was her.

I had tried to call her every day over the past week only to have her mother yell at me and tell me to stop calling their house.

They eventually changed their number.

“Becky?” I said.

“It’s me, they finally let me out of the house to go shopping and I drove to the first pay phone I could find. Becky said.

“Becky, I didn’t mean for any of this to happen!” I exclaimed.

“I know. That’s why I didn’t want you to talk with my father, because I knew what he would do,” She said.

 “That night, after everything happened, we had a family meeting to discuss what had happened and my father said that you’re evil; a deceiver who only wanted to marry me with the ulterior motive of taking me away from them.”

“That’s not true! I told you many times what my plans were and I promised your parents that I had honorable intentions. I said.

“They have my brothers on the lookout for you, and told them to beat you up, if you get to close to the house,” she said.

I couldn’t believe it.

Two weeks previous, her parents and siblings were my close friends and now, they were my arch enemies ready to hurt me if I tried to rescue Becky from them.

“Whom do you believe, Becky? Them or me?”

“Tell me to go away and I will leave you alone, and never speak to you again. You know I never wanted to hurt you.” I said.

“Of course I believe you,” She replied.

“Do you still love me?” she asked

“Yes,” I said.

Even though I knew that her family was seriously screwed up and that her father was an absolute psycho, I still loved her and was prepared to fight for her.

“So, what do we do now?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said with a sigh.

“Becky, we have to talk face to face.” I said.

“I know,” She replied.

“I can’t call you, and you can’t call me from your house, so how can we communicate?” I asked.

“Letters,” She said.

“You know the bird of paradise plant under the garage door window?” she asked.

“I remember,” I said.

“Every morning, I get up before everyone else and do chores around the house.”

“I will leave you a letter buried under the rock next to that plant.”

“When can I get it?” I asked.

“At night because it’s too dangerous for you now that they are on the lookout for you,” she said.

“You better not come until at least 1 a.m. when everyone is asleep.”

“In my letter, I will let you know when we can meet and talk.”

“I will leave the first letter for you tomorrow and you can pick it up by 1 a.m. Monday morning. I better get back home before they send someone after me.” She said.

“Becky why don’t you just run away?” I asked.

“Because, my little brother and sister need me and if I run away, my parents will find me.’ She said.

“Becky, I still love you and I’ll fight for you,” I said.

“I still love you too,” she said right before she said goodbye and hung up the phone.

After our conversation, I felt renewed.

I could get her back; our relationship still stood a chance even though I would have to fight for her.

I was ready for the fight and suddenly, I felt like I was preparing myself for battle.

I told my parents what happened and they tried to talk me out of pursuing her, but seeing that I wasn’t going to back down they told me that they supported me.

The next day, Sunday, I was filled with nervous energy as I planned out my moves to retrieve her letter by 1 a.m. Monday morning.

I couldn’t do anything but think about what awaited me in the early morning hours of Monday, I pictured her father running out of the house with a gun, or her brothers holding me down while her father beat the “evil spirits” out of me.

The hours flew by until it was finally the clock struck midnight and I drove to her house to pick up her letter by 1 a.m.

Once I got there, I parked far up the street and ran to her house, dressed in black.

I made it to her darkened house and ran up to her garage and dug next to the bird of paradise plant, and found her letter buried right where she said it was.

Success!

Suddenly somebody coughed inside the house and the garage lights came on, lighting up the area where I was hiding as if her father, the warden knew what I was doing and was coming out to stop me.

I didn’t wait around to say hello and ran like hell.

I felt like I was a jewel thief, running from museum security.

I got into my car, stepped on the gas, and floored it until I was out of the area. Once I calmed down, I pulled over to a gas station and began to read what her letter had to say.

It was chaos in her house.

After my blowout with her father, everyone there was on edge and her father didn’t trust anyone on the outside anymore. Her letter also said that they had to drug her and tie her down after I left because she couldn’t stop crying and trying to run away from them. She wanted to see me and suggested that we meet Friday morning to talk about what to do.

She said that she could meet me in my car a few blocks away by a school at 6 a.m. as she was going on her morning walk.

If I agreed to the plan, she asked me to write her back and leave my letter in the same spot the following morning.

When I got home, I immediately sat down and wrote my letter to her, agreeing to meet her early Friday morning to talk about what to do.

 My parents thought I was crazy to pursue her after what her father did to me, but they could see that I was still in love and knew they couldn’t stop me, so they continued their support.

Early the next morning, I took my reply letter to her house and buried it in the same spot.

In a few days, we would meet again.

It had been almost three weeks since we last held each other.

Before that we had never been apart for more than a few days. I couldn’t wait to see her again, hold her in my arms, comfort her, and plan for the future.

What were we going to do?

I knew that I still wanted to marry her, but since her parents now hated me, that couldn’t happen like we planned.

I also knew that her parents had found a home in Oregon and planed to move in a few weeks and they would take Becky with them and any opportunities for us to be together.

Was I making the right decisions?

Was it really worth it?

Why couldn’t I just walk away?

What would her parents do to her if they found out?

These questions raced around in my mind as I thought about what I was going to say to her on Friday, and what I would recommend that we do.

I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, but I was prepared to do everything I could do to make it work. Because I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with anyone else but her.

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