While I was working at Store #15, I would often have visitors from competitive Super Markets come by to visit our Store and Bakery. We had a tremendous Birthday and Everyday Cake business along with other breads & rolls, fancy desserts, brownies, cookies and pies. One summer day in July of 1987, Mr. John Schwegmann, CEO and Chairman of the Board for Schwegmann Giant Super Markets was touring our store. He came by the Bakery and we spoke for about 10 minutes. He told me how nice everything looked. Naturally, I said thank you, but I also praised the bakery team that worked for me at the time. As he was about to leave, he asked me if I was happy running the Bakery. He told me he had visited a lot of In-Store Bakeries in New Orleans, but this particular In-Store Bakery always looked fantastic and he felt it was always ready for business. I told him I was happy with my current job and I was paid very well. He gave me his business card and asked if I would mind coming to his office at the Gentilly Store location for a business meeting to discuss a possible job offer. Oh my God, I was scared to death. I took his card and decided to call his personal assistant and set an appointment for the following Wednesday, which was my normal day off. I was both nervous and excited about speaking with him. Jane and I decided that I should buy a Coat and Tie so I at least looked presentable and business minded. The day final came for my appointment. Well needless to say, I was nervous and all I could do to calm my nerves was to eat. I would tell myself, “Seriously, you are going on a possible job interview and all I wanted to do was find something to overcome my fears, which was always food!!.” Well, the time came for the appointment. The first 20 to 30 minutes, Mr. John spoke about the Legacy of Schwegmann Giant Super Markets. The company was started and founded by his dad, John G Schwegmann. The first store, #1 was located on St. Claude Street in New Orleans, LA. Mr. John’s office was in the Gentilly area, Store #3, right near the Intercoastal Canal which tied Lake Pontchartrain to the mighty Mississippi River. This store was the first Hyper Supermarket built in 1957 with over 288,000 Square Feet. The warehouse was as large as the Grocery Store, which had over 40 checkout lanes. Mr. Schwegmann cut to the chase. He said and I quote, “my Bakery Program is absolutely awful. I have been looking for someone to manage the bakery program and I believe you are the right person for the job. I have visited that store on Canal Blvd and Carrollton Avenue over 5 times in the past 3 months at different times of the day and it always looked fabulous.” I said thank you in a very sheepish tone. I was so nervous. I never had a real business like job interview. He asked me if I was happy with my Salary. I chimed in right away and said I made a lot of money. In this quirky smile, he asked me what I felt a lot of monies was as a Bakery Manager. I proudly said, Mr. Schwegmann, I make about $28,000 a year. That’s pretty good money for a Bakery Manager, don’t you think? He replied, “yes it is, but you are not going to be a Bakery Manager any longer. I would like to offer you more monies with Sunday’s off to be with your family”. I was so nervous, I could hardly breathe. My life was about to change, bigtime. He pause and said, “how about you and I have lunch and we can discuss your compensation package.” I said, no problem. Where should we meet?? He said, “lets me at Ruth’s Chris Steak House on Broad Street in about an hour. I’ll have my President Sam Levy and my Vice President of Grocery Operations, Roy Lacoste with me. I was beside myself. I was calling my Mom, my wife and anyone I could think of except my present job. I felt like I was having an affair and didn’t want anyone to know what I had been doing on this Wednesday afternoon. I was way out of my comfort box. I decided to go get something to eat just 20 minutes before we were going to eat. Food was the only thing that would keep me calm. My Compulsive Overeating just kicked in, but this time with excitement. I was so full and now I had to eat again in less than 20 minutes. I was so nervous at lunch, but did my best to keep my composure. I always had a pretty good gift of gab, so conversation was never a problem. It didn’t matter who I was speaking too!! My mom said I didn’t graduate from college, but I had my Doctorate in BS. I was a great “BULLSHIT” artist !! We had lunch and came to an agreement over what my compensation was going to be if and when I started in my new position as Bakery Buyer. My salary started at exactly 50% more than what I was making at National/ Canal Villere. He offered to pay me $42,000 per year, 3 weeks vacation, paid insurance for my family, car allowance for travel to and from stores and a yearly Christmas Bonus if the company made money at the end of each year. I was almost speechless. Before we left our lunch, I said, ” Mr. Schwegann, I would like to give my existing company National/ Canal Villere some notice before I just quit. He said, “please give them a month, since you have been very loyal and with them for over 10 years. You can start with us the first week of August, 1987.” I went home that evening with my first life changing job opportunity. I was going to be a Bakery Buyer for the largest Super Market Chain in the Greater New Orleans region. It immediately went to my head. I was struggling to keep my feet on the ground. My false pride was in full swing. I needed help to put me back in check again. I felt like I hit the lottery. My chest was out further than a Lion or Tiger getting ready to fight for a female mate!!
Will to Live – Gluttony w/ More False Pride – Part 23