He believed he was a good employer. He always purchased homes in upper-middle-class neighborhoods. Most of the homeowners were from two income earning marriages; their own work hours, coupled with the demands of owning a home and raising kids, made them oblivious to the comings and goings of his employees.
The homes helped legitimize the business. “Rental” income made a large part of his taxable income. He rolled up all the utilities, too, which made “rent” neat and tidy. The more recently established office janitorial and house cleaning businesses allowed him to offer health insurance, a benefit most never had before. The businesses also proved a great apprentice program. Many of his best producers started our washing linens and scrubbing floors. Access to the clients’ offices came in handy when things needed correcting.
He told them at the outset sex and business don’t mix. They shouldn’t consider him an option. That’s now how he operated. They needed to stay in their pay grade. They signed their contracts with a full understanding of their transactional relationship. His attorneys were always present. They meet their performance goals, and he gets 30 percent. If they don’t, they draw up a 90-day corrective action plan. When they outperform, he provides bonuses. When they underperform, they find a new employer. He considered himself a good boss who provided ample opportunity to meet their goals. Their days of living in flea-bag motels were over. They would never share a home with more than two of their co-workers. They had their own bedroom, bathroom. They shared the kitchen, dining room, living room, exercise room, and laundry when they needed that. Housekeeping managed their laundry twice a week, and all dry cleaning was picked up and dropped off. There was a staple of refreshments, vitamins, fruits, and vegetables. He had a dietician that worked with each employee and assigned housekeeping the task of making two meals a day per person. The contract required they take care of themselves. He told them everything in moderation, except drugs, they’d be on the street if they pissed hot. They didn’t work the street anymore. Their johns were not jerkoffs. They were legit and came through “It’s not lunch”.
Every aspect of his business swirled in his head. It had been years since he had a legitimate date. This one was no hookup. He did his homework. He’s still shocked “It’s Just Lunch” matched them. He read her profile, then dug in more. She was a struggling architect eight years ago. Post-recession she sold a conglomerate of investors on an idea to invest in a mixed-use community just west of the city. Mixed residential with senior, low income, and middle-class options; closed school gutted and reopened as a charter school; vacant land reclaimed as prairie and park space; Trader Joe’s and more. An urban planner’s dream which made it glide through the city council. It’s proximity to Oak Park made the racial dynamics work. She’d done her homework. Up to and through the downturn, she’d quietly bought the vacant lots and the delinquent taxes to seize ten acres. Going into the deal, already owning the property was brilliant. She’s 35 and a multi-millionaire. Finally, he’d meet someone who is as financially successful and independent as him.
His thoughts braked when she walked in through the revolving doors. She paused, looked to the hostess, and then quickly made eye contact with him. She immediately recognized him, and he smiled and nodded in agreement. She walked over. She smiled a gorgeous smile. In concert, she put her hand before him, and said, “Dan, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” He returned his hand, shook hers, when she immediately placed her left hand on top of both of them, she paused, smiled again, and looked in his eyes. He said, “Beth, the pleasure is mine.”
The hostess looked over at the both of them, now she was smiling, too. She motioned that their table was ready. Dan felt it. They looked good together. He stepped back and motioned to let Beth walk in front of him. Dan thought she was a tall glass of water. Probably an inch or two shorter than him with the boots on. Black. Leather. Fitted. Accompanied by the dress that was tailored, a step up from Brooks Brothers, but he couldn’t name the designer. She took the rose-colored silk scarf off without effort. The action released her perfume. Jasmine, he thought. Her neck was long and strong.
Wait staff poured water as they settled in. Dan’s tongue was in a vice, his thoughts in disarray, he kept telling himself not to fuck it up. She was an upgrade for him.
She picked up a glass of water and asked, “Your profile says your career is in real estate, what exactly do you do?”
“I’m a pimp,” he said.
She spat at out her water. His face fell. She picked up her scarf, coat, and purse. Smiled tersely at him and walked out.
That was not the lunch he planned.
When I don’t show up for yoga on Friday’s at Essencia I now get an assignment. Jeannine sent me this quotable from my fellow yogi as a prompt, “She was an upgrade for him”. These one-liners are always part of a story that I don’t know anything about, so I make a new one.