“I Don’t Want to Ruin Your Life”

The story of a father, his son, and a nursery

Seven years ago my brother Eric called me with a job “opportunity”. He had just the place for me to work. “You can work remotely or set your own hours. The only drawback is you have to move back into Lake County and work for Mom and Dad.” Insert long, awkward pause here. So let me flash back and tell you that I never intended to make a career at Whistling Pines. I used to wash the walls of the greenhouse range number 8 telling Ruben how I couldn’t wait to get out of high school and go to college and get the hell out of this place. (He often reminds me of these remarks to this day) I thought with my social skills and high scores in mathematics that it was inevitable that I work on Wall Street. For those of you wondering why I have decided to start this blog this week, I just finished watching the “Wolf of Wall Street’. This movie is of course a cinematic, over the top version of the truth, but there is a reality there that I want to explore. How can you live a morally sound life and that of a family man with such greed and temptation surrounding you? I wish I could say that I am not one easily influenced but that would be a lie.

When Eric called me with this marvelous job opportunity; including the chance to work from home, I knew I was sold a false bill of goods. However, over the following weekend, a walk with my Dad around the nursery solidified my future in this industry. My dad and I walked around for several minutes without speaking, which wasn’t uncommon, so I broke the ice with “So Dad, what’s up?” His initial response was “Well Doug, I don’t want to ruin your life.”

I think he was trying to tell me he did not want to keep me from exploring myself and the world around me. He didn’t want me to “not follow my dreams”. He told me I would never be rich, and I would probably never make the amount of money I was planning on. But more importantly, no matter what I did, I would never out-earn my ability to spend. What he was offering was quality of life; a position in an established company that would teach me everything about running and owning a business as soon as I was ready to learn (which took about 6 years). He offered me a chance to be a good husband, and have a nice life in a small town surrounded with good friends and family and beautiful lakes. He did not ruin my life but gave me a life with a meaning. We work a lot of hours and have many responsibilities at the nursery; but we sleep good at night knowing we are moving in the right direction; fair, honest, hard-working, side by side, father and son taking this company to the next level. Who knows, maybe someday I will be rich, but I doubt it…