After the owner had notified me that he would be closing Allstate Brokerage Company, he allowed me to continue to work for the company for another 2 months and spend all my time looking for work. My new job was to apply to several different manufacturers and see if I could land a Regional Job. During this time, I began a huge campaign and started calling all my contacts in the Bakery Industry that I had met over the past 23 years. I had a friend, whom was part owner of Petrowski’s Bagel Company in Kansas. He had sold me bagels when I was at Schwegmann. He informed me that Quaker Oats had just bought his company as well as Arnie’s Bagels in the northeast. He promised to call the Vice President of Sales at Quaker Oats as well as write a letter on my behalf. I had also gotten letters of recommendation from the largest bakery manufacturers in America, which included Rich Products, Dawn Foods, Country Home Baker’s, Maplehurst Bakery, Karp’s etc. I had at least 35 Major Manufacturers that wrote incredible letters of recommendation on my behalf. At the same time this was going on, I also had a former Classmate, whom was the Mayor of New Orleans write me a handwritten letter of recommendation. We were very close at Jesuit High School.
After applying to several companies, I received a call from Quaker Oats. They asked me if I was still interested in an interview for a position as Southeastern Regional Manager. After a brief phone interview, I was to purchase a ticket to fly to Chicago, IL to meet with the Vice President of the Bakery Sales. I had never met him before, but a lot of my friends in the industry knew of him. I decided to go out and purchase a new suit for my big interview. We finally met and he interviewed me for several hours. We discussed my background as well as his. He asked me if I had ever called on Major Retailers before in the Southeastern US. I had 2 years experience selling to Schwegmann, Delchamps, Winn Dixie, and Jitney Jungle, but not any of the big Customers like he was referring to in our interview. I felt very good about the interview. He told me he had several candidates to interview for the position and it would be a few days before he made any final decisions. I left the Quaker Oats Company feeling good, but since I had never interviewed for a position at this level before, I didn’t know what to expect. I went back to O’Hare Airport and flew back home to New Orleans. I was only gone one night. As soon as I walked in the door, my Aunt and Uncle greeted me with huge smiles. I was like, what’s up? The said my FAX line had rang and I received a FAX from the Quaker Oats Company. I said, are you guys sure?? I figured right away it was a thank letter for coming to the office, but due to my lack of Regional Sales Experience, I wasn’t qualified for the job. Well, to my surprise, it was just the opposite. The Quaker Oats Company had sent a job offer to my home FAX before I had even gotten back to my office. I was absolutely besides myself. Oh My God, I was going to work for Corporate America. This was the beginning of my life long dreams. Low and behold, this called for a huge celebration. Needless to say, its not like I didn’t know the meaning of HUGE?? I celebrated and celebrated for about 3-4 days. This meant lots of food, drinking and of course some gambling. After sharing the news with my immediate family, I called my friend back in Charlotte, NC, to tell her the news. She was extremely happy for me. During my interview, I was told me that I could live anywhere in the Territory, which was all of the Southeast US. She asked me if I had ever lived anywhere but New Orleans. I answered with a bit of a giggle. Well, not really except for Military School. I had never really mentioned that before in any of our conversations. She told me how beautiful Charlotte was and that maybe it was time for me to start off my new job fresh. We talked for a while and I made plans to travel to Charlotte to look for a place to live. My friend had promised to show me around her town. The only one that was not too happy about this was my daughter. She knew that I was thinking about moving away. I told her if I did make this decision to move, that New Orleans would still be part of my territory and I promised to come home often. It didn’t sit well with her, not one bit. She called me a lot crying. I was guilty of one thing. At the time, I thought only of me and not of my family. My greed for the new job, the opportunity to have someone new in my life that accepted me for me was very exciting. I spent a few days at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Charlotte. She took me to several nice areas to look for an apartment to rent. I liked a few, but she said, I have a great idea, but we might need to get it approved if you agree. She worked for Quaker in the past, but was working for a Broker in the Charlotte, NC market that represented Quaker Oats. She said she had a 4 bedroom home that she was struggling to make ends meet since her divorce from her husband. She told me I could have my own bedroom and office and we could share expenses just like roommates. She took me to her home that afternoon. It was in a gorgeous area of Charlotte. She lived in an area known as Raintree. Her home backed up to a Golf Course and had a huge pond with Canadian Geese swimming around. She also had a piano, which I would have access to play at my leisure. We talked a lot about this living arrangement and discussed the bills that were involved. I realizied I could have the comforts of living in a home without the expenses of an apartment. Her home was fully furnished and all I needed to do was bring my clothes. I would have my own bedroom and office. The bills were almost going to be half what I would have paid living on my own in an apartment complex.
After receiving the full offer from Quaker Oats, I informed the Vice President of Bakery that I would be moving to Charlotte, NC. He had no problem since one of my largest Customers was Harris Teeter and they were based in Matthews, NC, only 20 minutes from friend’s home. My employee package was incredible. Quaker Oats started me off at $70,200 per year, a new Company Car with Cell Phone, All Medical Insurance, 3 Weeks Vacation, 8 Paid Holidays, along with a 401K and ESOP Program. This was extremely helpful as I had to think about Alimony and Child Support. Since I was going to be living with her, it made my finances much easier to manage.
After going to Court with my wife, I agreed to pay $1600 dollars a month in Child Support until my daughter reached 18, but no alimony payments. I also continued to pay the house note and all my daughter’s personal needs such as Clothes, Swim Team as well as all medical, dental and school tuition. I also agreed to allow my wife to live in the house until our daughter turned 18 years old. At the time of our separation, she was 15 years old going on 16 that coming July. I knew this move was going to be hard on her, but I was only thinking of me and my wants. It was bitter sweet. I knew I had hurt my daughter deeply having moved away to Charlotte, NC. I was caught up in all kind of excitement. Moving to a new City, starting a new job at The Quaker Oats Company as well as beginning to have feelings for my friend. My family was not too happy about this move in the beginning. My friend was 14 1/2 years older than I was at the time. She had just gone through a bitter divorce and I was in the middle of a separation that was heading to a divorce. Just like I had always done in the past, once my mind was made up, there was no turning back. I finally moved to Charlotte, NC on Mother’s Day weekend, May of 1997, which was 5 months after we separated. My daughter was angry and devastated. At the time, I was only thinking of me and my wants. Sometimes, I still feel guilty for what I did by moving away. It’s the one regret I have in the life that I cannot change.
Will to Live – Anger, Envy, & Lust – Part 32