#278 In which our hero relates the events of The Great Daycare Debacle (part 2)
I’m not always as quick on my feet as I’d like, but if you give me the chance to prepare some remarks in advance, I think I can lay down a pretty good argument. So I spent some time putting my thoughts together, and I thought I had a pretty good set of points in favor of the day care moving into the church. They were, in order of importance:
- Much-needed income
- Lots of new people (i.e., potential members) coming to the church for the first time
- More diverse people coming to the church
The “debate” – if you want to call it that—was conduced pro/con/pro/con, with me speaking second.
I found the “con” arguments not very convincing, since they basically boiled down to “we don’t wanna.” One presenter tried to bolster his argument with numbers, basically trying to say that Susan wasn’t going to be paying enough compared to what other tenets paid. Which was absolutely ridiculous, considering that one of the other tenets was a kindergarten co-op which hadn’t had a rent increase in 15 YEARS.
All of this information was presented and we were told that the powers that be would discuss it and get back to us with a decision.
During this entire process The Scientist and I were encouraging Susan to NOT move into the church. I mean, the church was sending a clear signal that they (or, at least, a significant number of them) didn’t want her there… why go knowingly into a situation where the people are already biased against you? But Susan was determined.
Things drug on for weeks, and finally through whatever maneuvering needed to be done, Susan’s contract for two rooms in the church was approved.
As predicted, there were a lot of sour looks from the trustees. And, frankly, they continued to do whatever they could to screw Susan over. First, they made her pay rent that was considerably higher than what other renters were paying. They made her agree to clear the snow and ice by the side entrance herself. She was responsible for hauling trash out to the dumpsters. I found the entire thing rather un-Christian.
That said, Susan was far from the perfect tenant. You’d think that she would tread softly, being that she knew she wasn’t exactly being welcomed with open arms. But she didn’t. She moved in and made herself at home. She helped herself to room within the church’s kitchen, which wasn’t mentioned in the contract. She allowed the kids to run around in the gym, which wasn’t one of the rooms she contracted for. She basically took advantage of what little goodwill there might have been. Even those in the church who wanted her there started to give her sideways glances.
The Scientist and I both saw this, and cautioned her. But Susan is very much a “ask forgiveness, not permission” sort of person.
So, things were a little contentious at the new space. But, after a year or so, things pretty much settled down. I don’t know if the church saw that she wasn’t going to be as big a thorn in their sides as they thought, or maybe they just really started to like the new income.
Susan expanded at the church, renting two more rooms for a total of four. She and the church came to an agreement about using the kitchen and the gym. Honestly, things were pretty good for a time.
Now, The Scientist and I still had qualms about certain things. We were both on her board of directors, but were rarely informed of any significant changes. Staff turnover was higher than we would like. Some of the women who worked there seemed a little lazy. EVERYONE who worked there (including Susan) were on their cell phones ALL THE TIME.
But, we never felt like our children were in any danger, and Susan was pretty aggressive about introducing a real curriculum. Our children (Macey had been born by this time and was at the center) were learning things… it wasn’t just a babysitting service.
But, the wheels really came off a couple years later.
Susan had always wanted her own building. She wanted a space were she wouldn’t have to deal with so many restrictions and, I suspect, so many sour faces. One day she informed The Scientist and I that she had found a place, and was moving forward with plans to open a second center.
I was really annoyed with this. As a board member (The Scientist was the President of the Board, no less), she should have consulted with us first. But by the time we were brought into the loop she had already signed a contract.
My wife had more important concerns, namely, could Susan afford to open a second center? We weren’t privy to her financials, but even though I’m sure she made a profit, she wasn’t raking in the dough by any means. And the space she had put money down on needed significant modifications. In fact, other than the lobby, the entire space had to be gutted and rebuilt from scratch.
But, Susan assured us that she had run the numbers and it was going to work out. She could maintain the current center in the church, and open the new one at the same time.
Somehow the church got wind of this new center, and started asking Susan if she was leaving. No, no, she told them, I’m opening a second location, not leaving the first.
Then, a series of events occurred that didn’t surprise The Scientist or I at all. The construction of the new center was more expensive than anticipated, and took longer than planned. Susan began to run out of money, and became late in paying her rent to the church.
The church—never happy with having her there in the first place, remember—saw this as an excellent opportunity to drive her out (this is only my opinion, of course… but events really seemed to support it).
They demanded the rent in full, even after Susan made it clear that she didn’t have it. One evening (she was already three months late at this point) members of the trustees approached her and demanded she write a check for a partial amount on the spot. She did. At this point Susan’s story and the church’s story diverge: Susan claims that she told them right then and there that there wasn’t enough money in the account to cover the check, but if they wanted one, by God she’d write one. The church claims that she never said anything about insignificant funds. Sadly, I believe the church.
After the check bounced things really came to a head. The church changed the locks on her, and said she couldn’t get back in until she paid in full. They did let her go in and retrieve some of her stuff and pack it over to the new site, but locked her out again (in the pouring rain) before she got everything, screaming at her the entire time.
At this point Susan decided to just go ahead and dump the church and open up in the new space, even though it wasn’t finished. Frankly, I think this was her plan all along: to string along the church until the construction in the new place was done, then jump ship. Even though she swore she never intended to leave.
The screaming/moving/raining incident happened on a Friday, and the next Monday we took the kids to the new place.
To be continued.