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  • "Hi Dad." (I own a small restaurant.)

    "Hi... how are you?" (Dad is always so excited when I call.)

    "I'm doing great, how are things? (I'm always doing great, whether I am or not, no need to worry my Dad.)

    "Things are good here, you know, the usual." (He's retired, lives fifteen minutes away, and would always love to drop by, and see how I was doing, and see how his son's store was doing. Hours of shop talk. Jokes, laughs, and, on occassion, a few serious moments...all had at the outside tables and chairs in front of the store.)
    "How's the restaurant doing? You keeping busy?" (Dad also knew it was summer, and we were slowing down.)

    "Well, that's kinda why I called...we are slower than slow...I think the recession is gonna really get us this year." (Dad was accustomed to slow summers. Sometimes, in years past, when it got "real bad", he would lend the business some money, just enough to get through the slow months, and then, come season, the restaurant would pay him back.)

    "Oh no, it's happening again huh? Don't worry, things are about to pick up! (I think he already knew the answer to his own question, but, he is always the optimist.)

    "No, this year is the worst that any of us have ever seen. There are places closing down all over town. This recession is killing everyone." (It was the worst I had ever seen...close to five years of owning these two restaurants, and it was never so slow...so soon into summer. The everyday regulars now came just two or three times a week. The two to three times per week customers were cutting down to once a week. The once a week customer became a once or twice a month customer. It was beyond bad.)

    "Don't worry, it will pick up... the economy is on it's way up!" (Good ol' Dad.)

    "Well, I'm going to start falling behind on the rent in a few weeks, and then I will have to start slow paying some vendors...robbing Peter to pay Paul...based on our sales over the past month or so, this is gonna get real ugly...real quick. I'm in a real bind here." (There have only been a few occassion over the five years or so where I had to borrow money from "PARENTS, LLC" to keep things going...and every time, they were able to be there for me... most times putting themselves in a bind, just to make sure their firstborn could continue to live out his dream.)

    (Now, usually, the response would be, "Well, ok... how much do you need, and how soon can you repay it?" or, "Sure, I can help out, You'll pay me back in a few months." But, this time...it was different.)

    "Well, what are you going to do?"

    (I wasn't expecting that response... it caught me completely off guard. This time, there would be no help. This time, there would be no loan. I felt a nausea come over me, I felt my body temperature rise up, I started sweating... That very second, I knew that the unimaginable was about to happen. The ride was over. A market crash in 2008. A housing bubble bursting. A high unemployment rate. A sea of foreclosures. Five years of somehow keeping it all afloat. My eyes watered. My voice started cracking. I fought it back. The thought of losing the restaurant wasn't what hurt... the thought of telling my Dad I was going to lose the restaurant, admitting defeat, throwing in the towel, and failing...yes, it was the realization of failing that hurt.)

    "Dad, I'm gonna have to close the restaurant." (I'm not sure what the conversation was from that point on. It was only another minute or two. It's all a blur, except, I do remember wanting to get off the phone as soon as possible. Waves of tears and emotion we're building up, and it was just a few more seconds before I was going to have to lose that battle as well.)

    "O.K. Dad, I have to go... I will call you later. I love you." (I couldn't get off the phone quick enough.)

    "I love you too, and don't worry, you're going to be just fine." (He meant it, all of it.)

    I hung up the phone, and then five minutes happened that I will never forget for the rest of my life. Sitting in my car. Parked on the curb right in front of the restaurant. Everything I was holding back while on the phone... it arrived with such force. It hurt, and it wouldn't stop. Panic set in, worry, fear. More tears. Sobbing. Five long minutes of it. Failure had arrived. It was all but over.

    My restaurant closed a few weeks later, but, my Dad was right about one thing:

    I am doing just fine.
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