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We've been promising another installment in Michael Kalebich's saga of warning..so here it is!
Part 4, “April to November”
Ay! How's everyone doing? I hope well, of course. Let's FINALLY get down to some juicy bits!
So, picking up where we left off, I had made it to the clinic in early January, spent some time training in another clinic by late January, and had gotten back. I'd like to take some time to bring up what was, at this time, DA's official plan, circa my getting back from where I trained. This might seem a bit banal, but I just want to try and point something out.
So, starting Febraury, the plan was-
*Start advertising/getting some more word for the CA the clinic ostensibly still doing, especially in light of a new punk and a a new schedule(DA jumped the schedule from about eighteen hours total across three days before I went out to train, to about forty hours total, seven days a week(and, yes, they did at one point vocalize how “weird it was” that the numbers seemed to dip and stagnate all at once shortly after; gratefully they never directly blamed me for it.))
*Get to work on a space which could accommodate CA, float-tanks, sauna, and reception for all of this, via a new build-out, which I was told should be worked out by the end of April(SPOILERS: lol)
*Until the move that should be happening around the end of April to the new space, the prices for CA was to stay where they were, $15-$35, *possibly* going up to $20-$40
Okay, just wanted to note all of that. So, moving onward…
Like I've already alluded to, things were SLOW for most of February and into March. At this time, I still believed that more was possible in terms of turning things around than actually was possible, and I spent a lot of that time trying to solve that puzzle while reading throught the Mighty CA Wiki searching for possible answers.
I didn't find any, of course, but I did learn a LOT about punking and POCA(seriously, “three cheers!” now and always Mighty CA Wiki), and that was pretty cool. DA only intermittenly popped by the shop to look busy and fuss with old files, and occasionally ask me and the other punk there at the time what would be needed for the “CA” portion of the Frankenstein's Monster of a clinic they were developing. That really gave me the space to stay more focused on learning this new skill called “punking”. Didn't last forever, but I got to meet a lot of patients, and the volunteers who had been helping at the clinic, and that was nice.
At this moment, I'd like to take a moment to talk about the other punk that was there at this time. Assume OP, Other-Punk, is referring to them.
They had been at the clinic for close to more than four years by the time I'd gotten there, they were the first and only real punk hire at the clinic prior to my arrival. Meaning, they were eminently capable, and plugged into everything going on, and weren't very much at all a fan of DA. I had sensed pretty early some tension between OP and DA, but didn't have the specifics, and in the initial stages of things, basically just tried not to think about it. It's not that I ever thought they were just being “ornery” because new things, but in general, if something doesn't directly deal with me, and I'm not neccessarily in a position where I “need” to know something about it to perform the basics of my job, I tend not to want to pry. And, you know, “Looming Darknesses” n' such.
Since I can't think of a more clever transition to the part where OP did finally lay out all of the weird shit happening behind the scenes, let's just transition right to the part where(by about sometime mid- March/early-April) they laid out all of the Weird Shit happening behind the scenes-
For starters, OP said that DA literally just appeared at a staff meeting one day; no warning, no email, no “heads-up” from their envoy to the clinic(which was their partner who was also a massage therapist at the clinic, and a friend of the 2nd Owner). Just real alluva sudden. I mean, yeah, 2nd Owner's health was getting pretty rough, and things were happening fast, but still. The meeting was basically, “I bought your clinic, and am your new boss now.”
Shortly thereafter, DA fired the paid front-desk staff arbitrarily after taking over, obviously doing their best to start things off on the Right Foot(fyi, DA originally appeared and started doing all of this stuff around six months before I got there in January 2016, so I never met this person/wasn't here for it all.) I mean, I guess the *reason* was because said paid front desk staff was Latinx or Hispanic, and DA wasn't sure if subsequently they would have been completely “legal”(which is TOTALLY an easy mistake to make as a white person(if you also happen to be FUCKING RACIST)) (Oh, and, yeah DA is white, just fyi.)
And, OP gave me the down-low on the Fill-In punk who was there before I got there, and who would have appeared to have “wronged” DA so badly they got about as riled up as a toddler whenever anyone mentioned them.
So, Fill-In had started covering shifts before DA came into the picture, and had also gotten another job in-town where the clinic was. The methodology, if I recall, was that way the clinic wouldn't have to bring them in as a “full employee”, and they could be just a “Fill-In” according to what the clinic and 2nd Owner needed as 2nd Owner's illness progressed. Maybe a little “impromptu”, but it did help bring some stability to the clinic and give 2nd Owner a chance to step back when they needed, and seemed to work out for a while.
When DA got there, Fill-In wasn't very keen on going full-time(GEE, I WONDER WHY?), and I suppose said so in various more and less direct ways. DA, however, seemed to just simplify that all down to, “Yes, of course I will go full-time for you!”, which seemed to cause a bit of friction between them. Especially when DA was arbitrarily demanding of Fill-In's time, particularly in ways that caused conflicts between the clinic and Fill-In's other job. After a certain amount of this, Fill-In decided that they should just step away from the clinic(GEE, I WONDER WHY?). And, it turns out that what really riled DA up about this, was that when Fill-In did so, they removed their license-information from the account linked to the website DA used to buy needles.
I could *maybe* understand the kind of bummer that would be, except that OP mentioned that DA was apparently still more than able to get a hold of needles when they needed, so…yeah…? I *guess* that calls for getting so mad to the point where you can't even refer to them directly in conversation…I think? Oh, and shortly after this happened, OP mentioned off-handedly that they and their partner were planning to have another child, their first getting close to a year-old(to give you a sense of how much they'd been pulling for the clinic), and without too much hesitation, DA responded in a decidedly non- jokingly kind of way, “Don't do that.”
So, yeah, I guess that explains things a bit. I wasn't “angry” to hear all of this, just a bit shocked at how “deep” the well of incompetence seemed to go with DA; which is funny in retrospect given that we'd really barely scratched the surface at this point. It was rough to hear at that moment, but in it's own way felt a bit liberating. *I* wasn't inventing a sense of things being very off, of not being able to fully trust the “management”, there WAS malarky a-foot, and, it
wasn't just me that thought it. As rough as that might have been, having OP and the other volunteers around was helpful. Especially given how crazy April was about to get.
So, about two-weeks after this private meeting I had with OP(which would put us into mid-April at this point), DA scheduled a meeting with OP and myself to let us know how things were coming with the new location. For starters, we were told that because CA was underperforming, at the new location pricing would change beyond slight adjustments to the sliding scale. DA immediately followed that with how they hadn't at all done any new advertising of CA since I'd gotten there, but that all of the avdertising around the float-tank stuff they had been doing seemed to be really going well. All of the visiting float centers and telling everyone who may be interested we were going to start adding that seemed to be paying off, and DA felt that the town the clinic was in was really into the idea of float tanks(Did you catch it?). DA also updated on how the construction at the new space was going.
Namely that it hadn't. They apprently hadn't even gotten the lease figured out because of weird reasons.
So, since we were set to move in two weeks, instead of moving to the “New” location, we would move to a temporary location for about two months so then everything could have time to figure itself out(LOL). This was the first OP and I had heard of that plan, and definitely the first any patients had heard of it!
The best part though, FAR and AWAY, was that the two other massage therapists(aside from DA's partner) that had been renting out a room filled with what I assumed was at least a few-hundred dollars of equipment between them, weren't updated of this change until about five days before the move was set to happen(OOPS!). The only reason they knew it was happening at ALL before it was time to move was because OP and I had mentioned it casually in between them seeing clients. Because, you know, there was NO WAY they COULDN'T have been updated by that point the whole operation was only a few days out from moving, RIGHT? I mean, they had a massage-therapist meeting with DA's partner three weeks ago, so CLEARLY they must have gotten SOME sort of update, RIGHT?
I'll never forget the look of shock and surprise on the massage-therapists faces when they found out what *was* actually happening. And, yeah, I sat there and agreed with everything they said about DA
right then. As the end of April did finally roll around, we packed up the clinic, moved it across town to a strip mall, and it was Summer.
Oh, but two days before, we had a “Free Day” to try to reach some new patients; moments before we were about to move to a place that I don't think I'd even been given the address for yet. Right as our numbers were starting to inch back up to about fifty-treatments a week after a decided slump with the massive schedule change. With MINIMAL direct notice to most our patients(OP and I telling everyone we could who was still coming in for treatments was pretty much all they got) that we were moving. :-/
After we did move, OP sent an email to DA and quit, by the way. This wasn't a big surprise, given that OP and two volunteers(who were both tough as nails) shortly before we were to move had it out with DA during the middle of one of the quite-moments during a shift(of which there we often plenty).
Understandly, people wanted to know what exactly it was DA had planned with everything, where they were coming from, and where their decisions would leave a LOT of patients who had been relying on the clinic for YEARS at that point. DA didn't have much to say, other than, A) CA wasn't making enough money in their eyes, and B) what did they want to do as volunteers in that new place. Like, literally, just, what do you want?”, but also, “not if you want to keep the things the way they are, because that doesn't work.”
DA also took a shot at one of the volunteers, implying he didn't assume they, as a not rich-white-person, would have the “fortitude” to make the kinds of $200,000 decisions(we'll get to that shortly) that DA was.
Said volunteer rightly countered that they actually DID have a large amount of money related to their family that they managed, not just totally for their own sake, and the concept of important decisions around meaningful resources actually WASN'T all that foreign to them.
But, yeah, very kindly, OP both informed me before hand that they'd be quitting(because I guess letting coworkers know in advance when possible about big changes coming is a thing some humans do? lol), and mentioned what they were planning to put into said email relating to it and asked some of my opinion because they didn't necessarily want to inadvertently cause any blowback onto me. Like I said, they were pretty awesome.
In retrospect, I was very nervous and scared at that time, because I only wished I could quit by virtue of being in a lease in my apartment until July 2017. I did look into what it might have meant to break my lease, and in short, it meant a lot of extra money I didn't have at the time. So, I was stuck. And, the idea of being stuck with a narcissist that was also unhappy with me was EXTRA terrifying, because I'd actually had a *lot* of experience with that in my life well before that point.
After I had gotten the news initially from OP as to the color and shape of things more directly, I called my punk mentor in stitches once or twice by this point. They were The Best(Thanks, Jim! <3 ), though, and were both patient and helpful about ways to somehow actually still punk amid all this crap. Still, "confidence" in anything, myself included, wasn't exactly anything real to me at this point.
Which is too say, I kind of asked OP to go a little lighter in that email they were about to send. In retrospect, I wish they hadn't listened to that, and had gone more in DA. I do still kind of regret that, in all honesty. Still, I appreciated that at least someone was trying to be thoughtful amdist everything. Which isn't too say they exactly went completely “soft” on DA. They still gave them a bit of a lacquering, and definitely gave DA a dose of medicine they totally deserved by that point. OP is a very tough person, much moreso than I'll ever be. I admired how, throughout their time at the clinic, they found ways to remain strong and still lean on DA when stuff started to get REALLY weird, and found ways to stick up for the patients in all of it.
Looking back, I was really starting to become a bit of a mess at that point. Which made me grateful for that fact, post-move, the Summer was rather quiet. With the lease still being negotiated, and subsequently details to be worked out on the build-out to handle all of the new-fangled spa-crap we'd be adding, DA would pop by the “temporary” clinic only intermittently, and usually to comment on how much they appreciated me sticking around and trying to
do my job well(DA's partner had abandoned things by about the end of June/sometime in July(and no shade to them for that, at all)).
The clinic was still only $15-$35 community-acupuncture, and the space we had moved to was actually kind of nice(by the time patients were properly informed n' such…). It was in a strip mall, and largely just a big, empty space with ceilings that ran up about twenty-feet and a bathroom in back. The tenants to our right were a barbershop run by a really nice lady, and to our left was a bar that graciously adjusted its music for us after a few days. Our setup was using a big dresser and some screens to wall-off a “reception” area with a desk, which people saw upon walking in the front door, then behind us about ten recliners in two rows facing each other. Another desk with the “punk” computer was situated behind the second row, facing the chairs.
Because DA fired all of the volunteer receptionists at once when we moved(did I mentioned DA did that? Well, they did. Luckily for DA, we were so slow I was able to punk/recept all by myself generally without issue :-p ), it could get pretty lonely in the clinic. But, after everything else that had been going on, it was at least “quiet” for a time. As calming as quiet shifts could be in a distressed CA clinic, I suppose.
I had a lot of think about, is what I guess I'm trying to say, and I had suddenly found myself with some time to think about it. I spent a lot of my time on shifts starting out the front of the clinic, a row of huge windows that went up almost as high as the ceilings from one wall to the other, and I watched the trees around the edge of the main road in front of the clinic blow in the wind. I watched the people moving in and out of the cars to go to wherever they wanted in the strip mall from the parking lot, doing my best not to stare, of course. I thought about how desperately far away February 2017(when I at first thought my lease was set to expire, more on that later) felt from the perspective of that Summer of 2016, what and how I would “so” something about this situation I had found myself in. With little else to do, I tried to just “process”, whatever that meant by then.
At first, I was very anxious about not getting paid(did I forget to mention that DA had been paying OP on pretty much no schedule for a while? Yeah, that's why they waited to quit when they did. Not because of how *sick* a burn it would be, but because that's when the check cleared, and they didn't feel like going after DA legally(rightly not worth the effort)), but after DA's partner quit the operation I figured DA'd have to at LEAST pay me regularly to hold on to the last employee they had. I was salaried, and at the time, that felt like it lent an extra sense of insurance to my pay(FORESHADOWING!).
In between all of this thinking, I did get to see some patients. They were all lovely, and appreciated that I was at least keeping everything “open” enough that they could get a few more treatments before whatever next crisis which was surely on its way approached. A couple of the old volunteers stopped by for treatments, and I manipulated the available free-treatment-passes in POCAPoint so they'd always have enought to stop by when they wanted(DA didn't pay much attention, obviously). We'd usually talk for a bit after I unpinned them, about all kinds of things. One in particular, “M”, stayed in touch pretty frequently, and was immensely helpful with quite a few things even after they'd been “fired”.
Via the small handful of people I knew through the clinic, I met one or two other people and got to hang out and do stuff here and there. The town the clinic was in was beautiful, it had plenty for people of all stripes in addition to a huge state university situated in the middle of it. In between staring out the window at work and keeping my head above water among all of the Looming Dread, I got to get out explore where I was a bit. Everyone I met was lovely, and I really enjoyed the time I was able to carve out of that Summer to actually enjoy myself a bit. I really liked that town, and in an alternative timeline, I might have stayed. I considered possibly trying to stay there and trying to start up some other CA, and bounced back and forth between that idea for a good while in truth, but in the end had neither the financial nor emotional resources to do so at that point.
The clinic would end up staying at the “temporary” location it was meant to be at for two months for about six. We *finally* moved in November, even though the location wasn't *actually* all built-out for the new spa-crap by then. The float-tanks hadn't moved-in until about a week before we did, and one of them(we were set to have three total) wouldn't fit in its doorway and had to be moved to a temporary location. The whole place was still really dirty, too. Lots of leftover nails and scrap from the construction workers, whom DA would go back and forth about paying because I guess they weren't doing a very good job(?).
Well, we did have an impartial third-party confirm said construction company didn't often do a very good job on their contracts during that year, but I still choose to believe it was because DA was just incompetent at paying people on time. Mostly because he didn't pay me for the entire month of November, even though I spent the first two weeks of it working non-stop rarely-any-breaks eight-plus hour days doing whatever DA's beck-and-call was as they fussed over how wrong everything seem to come out in their mind.
Now, admittedly, I should be fair. They did ask me in October right before we moved if I could “go without a paycheck” for a pay-period at the beginning of November. At that point, I just appreciated that I was getting some form of warning to literally anything, and like the prisoner I was, said, “Sure DA, so long as that 2nd one will be coming right behind it!”
I showed up to work at the very beginning of December(having had to blow through all of my savings to keep paid up on things like rent and bills like a fucking adult or some shit), and had made up my mind that the ONLY thing DA could do which would result in me doing anything other than walking out and reporting their ass was to reach into their pocket and pull out something I could take to the bank. Lucky for them, they immediately wrote me a check for about half what is I should've gotten that month.
It turns out, the problem was that the computer which the accountant was supposed to hook up to remotely in order to process employee payments on quickbooks hadn't been hooked up. Ergo, no employee payments.
There is so, so much GROSS incompetence and lazy negligence described in that particular sentence, my mind still freezes a bit when I think of it.
Since going any further would take me into December, and that's not what the title / up there / says(and I think I'm pushing closing to 3500 words, here), we'll wrap this post up here.
But, stayed tune, because the fur is REALLY gonna start flying next time!