the-family-business

The Family Business

Creative Writing: Day 2 of the Content Marathon

“Twelve-hundred and twenty-seven dollars in one weekend,” I thought as I sat across from Robert sipping my coffee while he studiously worked through the geometry equation. “Twelve-hundred and twenty-seven dollars in one weekend.” It involuntarily rolled out of my mouth as he looked up from his book with a bit of frustration.

“Dude, Shut Up! I almost had it.”

“Robert. I made almost a thousand dollars profit in one weekend at the tournament. In two days!” 

My parents said I could use their enclosed trailer. I already had the grill. And man, that barbecue recipe was sick! 

I spent $212.00 on supplies. I was terrified I wouldn’t even get my money back. It was worth a try. I had no idea I would run out of food by 2:00 the first day. And then to reload and do it again the next was ridiculous. And at a softball tournament of all places.

That moment at the coffee shop two years ago was the moment that my dream of having a wildly successful barbecue business was born. Within a twenty mile radius there were six softball complexes. Not to mention the soccer fields, football stadiums and city parks that dot the page inside that circle I sketched on the city map a few days later. If I could sell twelve-hundred dollars worth of food in two days at one softball tournament, what could I do in those twenty-seven venues within twenty miles of my school?

Three months passed as I stayed up late and missed a few classes at the community college I was attending. I had never even known what a business plan was and there I found myself seventeen pages deep into developing one. Each week the expenses got smaller and the revenue got bigger. Each week I got more excited about barbecue and more bored with school. Within six months I was bringing in two thousand dollars per weekend. Of course I had to hire Robert and a couple other friends to help me get it done, but I was still depositing over a thousand bucks into my new bank account each Monday morning. 

Every time I saw my parents I felt like my blood pressure rose. I knew I had to tell them soon. I just couldn’t continue to run a business and keep up with the full-time class load. Telling them the truth became a priority the day I jotted down my first five-year vision: a brick-and-mortar location within a 5-minute drive from the campus where I sat bored to tears for the first year-and-a-half of my post high school life. 

How could I break their hearts? How could I seemingly turn my back on the huge investment they’d already made in my college education. Dad picked up some extra work and mom started a new job just a couple weeks after I told them I wanted to go to law school.I hadn’t paid a penny of tuition since I enrolled in that first class. 

I would dream day and night about that restaurant and the trucks that would provide food at those venues. There’s nothing I wanted more than to build that business. But how could I hurt the two people who had sacrificed to support me for twenty years. I just couldn’t do it any longer. I had to break the news.

It felt like the longest night of my life the night before the trip to Grandma’s. It was our first trip since Grandpa passed away a few months ago. I knew that I had to break the news to them since we’d have three hours in the car together. I couldn’t wait any longer. After Thanksgiving I’d have to register for Winter classes. It was time to face one of the greatest fears of my life.

“Dad…” 

The sound of my faint voice sounded like a stranger and made me feel like a traitor. 

“You know I’m making about $1000.00 profit a week on the business.”

“Son, you don’t have a business, you have a hobby.” 

“I know dad, but I think I can have a business if I had more time.” I gained confidence with each word out of my mouth. “I have been working really hard to do this right.”

I can’t tell you all the details of everything that we talked about over the next few days at Grandma’s house, but what I can tell you is that as I came alive and shared my dreams, the door of his heart slowly opened. That last night at the farm, his eyes lit up as he looked at me with a slight grin and said, “Son, I’m very proud of you.”

I returned home the next day with a freedom I can’t really put into words. I gave every ounce of my energy to finish up that semester with the highest grades I had made my entire short college career. I walked out of that last class and never looked back. 

Five years, six food trucks and a stand-alone restaurant later I look my mom in the eye as she stands behind the sales counter and smiles. My dad looks back from the smoke pit and says, “Son, this is the best barbecue I’ve put in my mouth since the day I gave you Grandpa’s secret recipe.”

I don’t know, maybe I’ll back to school someday. But for now, I wouldn’t trade this little family business for the best law school in the country!

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