Fifteen

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A Who’s Minding the Store?

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Pam and I moved to Annapolis shortly after we got married so I could look for work in Washington. I had started out to be a journalist, but by the time Pam and I had gotten together,  I’d sunk to working for politicians.

We’d caught the tail end of the era when Annapolis was still a relatively small town, a very pleasant place to live where waterman worked the Chesapeake Bay for crabs and oysters, and you might run into the mayor while standing in line at the post office.

I managed to get a job in DC working for a U.S. Senator and Pam began work as a nurse at the local hospital. We had a little condo, and a little boat, and on weekends we’d sail out Back Creek toward to the Naval Academy or the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

But a rapid and massive spurt of growth started in Annapolis. Anne Arundel Hospital went from being a small community affair located downtown (where you could walk to work on a nice spring day) to a giant medical center with a sprawling campus on the edge of town. In addition to  handling the explosion in the local population, the new facility was picking up overflow from neighboring counties where the hospitals had been overwhelmed.  And it was no longer much fun to work there if you were a nurse.  Pam started spending more time filling out forms than caring for patients.

The nurses Pam worked with complained that there was no place nearby to buy uniforms. Every time they needed a new outfit, these women had a choice between navigating inner city Baltimore or the scarier parts of Washington, DC—as if they weren’t already risking their lives everyday at work.

So we spent a couple of weekends scouting out locations and by sheer dumb luck found a vacant store would turn out to be ideally situated for such a purpose. All of Pam’s retirement money from her years as a nurse in Florida went into the enterprise. We rented the place and purchased just enough goods to open for business. At first, we  both worked the store part time and with helpers, but within a few years we were both able to quit our other jobs and live by working our own business. We worked a lot and we weren’t getting rich, but we owned our own business. We drove nice cars and we dined out when we felt like it. We had Sushi a few times.

But now our shop was dark and closed, and worse yet, we had opened a second location which was struggling to establish itself and that store was closed as well.

But the bills kept coming…


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