“You have a really nice little place here,” said Lulu. He’d been here for a few days already, uninvited, but quite welcome
hen you’ve made a mistake, admit it,” said Lulu. “That’s the most important thing when you fail at something.” He bit into his tuna sandwich.
“Why?” asked Mishka, his host. He selected the fattest sardine from the open can and moved it to his plate.
“Because when you own a store and it’s failing, but you keep telling yourself that any minute it’s going to start profiting, you just keep wasting money covering the losses until you have nothing left.”
“But you said your store was doing well at first.”
“Not exactly doing well,” Lulu clarified. “For the first two years I was breaking even, more or less. But after that, I don’t know, people just weren’t buying, and I had a lot of expenses. My accountant kept telling me, ‘Shalom, it’s time to reconsider. It may not be worth it for you to keep investing in this business.’ He told me I wasn’t really attracting a specific target market. The store wasn’t classy enough for the upscale crowd, and it wasn’t cheap enough for the low-income folks. He wanted me to meet with this consultant and work things out — either close up shop, or start fresh with a better plan, a better sense of the customer base, better branding, all that.”
“That sounds sensible,” Mishka mumbled. The sardines disappeared into his mouth one after the other. He scooted his wheelchair over to the cupboard and started looking for another can to open.
“Yes, it was sensible.” Lulu gave a hoarse, weak laugh. “But sensible advice only works for people who are willing to admit they might need help. And I — I just couldn’t bear the idea I’d failed again, while my brother Sandy was going from one success to the next. It was killing me. So I ignored my accountant and just kept stubbornly telling myself I would make it work somehow. I used up all the funds I’d brought from London, and then I mortgaged my house to cover my losses from the store, deluding myself the whole time that soon the tide would turn and the profits would start rolling in.”
“And they didn’t.”
“No, they didn’t. Bring the mackerel, it’s there on the second shelf. It’s better than sardines.”
Mishka pulled out a can of mackerel and opened it. A fishy odor pervaded his little house, but the place was clean and neat. Mishka insisted on that. Bituach Leumi gave him a budget for a few hours of help every week, and he used it mainly for cleaning help.
“You have a really nice little place here,” said Lulu. He’d been here for a few days already, uninvited, but quite welcome.
(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 798)
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