In 1970, I made the fateful decision to leave the gorgeous coastal city of Santa Barbara, California, and move to Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was one of a group of California retail hotshots who planned to build a furniture chain and make millions of dollars. We targeted Tulsa to begin operations because it was a desirable secondary market. We succeeded in the first part of the plan. The Tulsa outlet proved viable and, in a few years, we had a national chain of ten stores, doing the equivalent of a couple hundred million in volume in today's dollars.
To the world, I had chosen the right bus. I had stock in a fast-growing company, a good salary, and a title of Vice President and Director of Marketing. I drove a luxurious Lincoln Mark V and lived in a spacious home. I also had a nice family, including two wonderful daughters. But beneath the surface was the grim truth: I was in a trap and there were no clear escape routes. The company I was working for was inhuman and exploitive. I detested my job. I was neglecting my family. As eventually happens with people who get on the wrong bus, I began to look around and wonder: How did I get to this strange place? Why am I doing things I don't feel good about? Why am I associating with people I don't trust? Unfortunately, I believed at the time that my options for action were very limited.
Suddenly, a new problem arose. My older, thirteen-year-old daughter's behavior began to change radically. My sweet, innocent Vicki became a different person almost overnight. I could no longer communicate with her. She began to lie, dress bizarrely, and to associate with unusual new friends. Her grades plummeted. I reacted by denying the symptoms. I told myself this phase would pass. I knew about some of the signs that signaled serious drug problems, but convinced myself that such things only happened to other families. In any event, I believed I needed only to exert willpower to gain control over the situation.
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