Oh, Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town

Business owners have to make tough decisions every day.

Hey Ma, I hope you’re doing well up there in Heaven. We are OK down here in “Big D.”

Well, this morning I had to terminate a nice kid. I really liked this young man, but being a nice guy is not enough to justify employment. He was a technician with me for the last six months. He was a graduate from Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (MMI), and I usually have pretty good luck with their graduates. He just never really caught on to the fast pace we have around here. I didn’t get much sleep last night, dreading having to fire this young man. But, he has been making a lot of mistakes lately, and he hasn’t responded in a positive way to our “counseling” sessions that he and I have had in my office for the last few months. If I had someplace else to move him to, I would have done it. He’s a good worker — he’s just not productive, and he consistently made errors in his workmanship. So now he’s a goner, and I wish him well.

The joys of being a business owner never ends and neither do the headaches. Owning your own business is extremely rewarding, such as being able to come and go as I please. If I want to go ride one of my Choppers for a few hours, I just go — I don’t have to ask anybody for permission, and I don’t worry about slacking off. After all … I’m riding a Rick Fairless Custom Motorcycle, and we build and sell Rick Fairless Custom Motorcycles … so I’m working, right? Plus, I like golf … a lot, Ma! So I try to play every week or two. I have a couple of knucklehead pals that I went to high school with, Mike and Gary, that I usually play with. Also, I enjoy playing with one of my Hamster buddies, Tony, and also Shawn, who’s a good friend that worked with me for many years. The thing about playing golf is that it’s like riding a motorcycle: It clears the head — or at least it does, if you do it right! 

But, Ma, there’s a downside to owning your own business too. It’s not always pleasant. I promise you that there are problems every single day that must be dealt with right then, on the spot, as they are happening. For instance, we had a customer picking up his bike recently, and he lost control of it and ran into my service department door and messed it up beyond repair. He was fine, just embarrassed, and his bike was pretty much fine, but my door was toast! Oh yeah, he doesn’t want to pay me for the damage he caused, so I held his bike until he made restitution! I’m always making decisions that can affect people’s lives, such as the kid I terminated today. What do you do when somebody wants to dispute a credit card bill a month after the transaction? It happens, and the hard part is, 99 times out of 100, they are defrauding or trying to defraud the company — that’s me! Makes me so mad that I’d smoke nails if I could light them!

Here’s a happy/sad story for ya, Ma. Eighteen years ago, I bought a 1955 Chevy Bel Air. It’s a beautiful car, and I paid a lot of cash money for it! After I had it for a week, my Dad, your ex-husband, asked if he could borrow it for a few days, so absolutely I let him borrow it. Fast forward two weeks, and I call to ask him when he was gonna bring my ‘55 back.

“I’m gonna come talk to you about that,” he said.

He shows up to my shop — not in my ‘55 by the way — and then he proceeds to tell me that he graduated high school in 1955 and this is his dream car! Then he reminds me how he co-signed for me to get the SBA loan that I used when I opened my business, Strokers Dallas. It went something like this:

Pop said, “I think you should let me keep this car, it’s my dream car!”

“Pop, I’ve only had the car for three weeks, and you’ve been driving it for two of those weeks,” I said.

“Good, you’re not attached to it then,” he said. Then he added, “You can have the car back after I pass away.”

What could I say other than, “Yes, sir”? I told him that if that car means that much to him, then, “Absolutely, you can take the car!”

Well, 18 years later, I just got the car back, albeit under the worst circumstances. So now when I drive my/Pop’s 1955 Bel Air that I named Ruby, I think about my Pop and how much enjoyment he got out of this car. Remember the Kenny Rodgers song, Ma? I know you and Pop love Kenny Rodgers and this song, as do I:

You’ve painted up your lips
Rolled and curled your tinted hair.

Ruby, are you contemplating
Going out somewhere?
The shadow on the wall
Tells me the sun is going down.

Oh, Ruby
Don’t take your love to town

I gotta go for now Ma. There’s something in the air, and it’s making my eyes water.

Love ya Mom … and Pop!


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