Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Once Upon A Time

I believe my experience with Rick was a fairytale. The fairytale began in 1995. I worked for a software company in San Francisco. I had worked for the company since 1988, starting out in Chicago, then New Jersey and finally San Francisco. I moved to The City in 1992 and lived in a two bedroom apartment in Presidio Heights. It was the first time I had ever lived in a city environment and loved every minute of it. I took the bus to work everyday and walked everywhere else. It was such a different lifestyle for me as I had grown up in the suburbs and depended on my car for everything.

I moved to San Francisco on a whim. I had attended a meeting there in January and went home to New Jersey to pack up my apartment. My parents thought I was crazy since I had just moved to New Jersey a year before. But what did I have to lose, I was single and had just an apartment full of possessions. I think I was trying to find happiness. It had been just three years since my sister died of cancer. That was the most painful experience of my life up to that point. Pat was only 35 years old when she died. She had a great husband and three very cute kids who were only 8, 6 and 3 when she died. Cancer wasn't something that was supposed to happen to my family. There were six of us, three boys and three girls. It took only four months to make it just two girls. I worried about what would happen to her children. When Pat lay dying, she made me promise that I would always help Bob (her husband) with Terry, Molly and Rob. She was so afraid that Bob would 'screw it up'. I promised her that I would always look out for her kids and do whatever I could do for them. She died two days later. I have kept my promise since 1989.

I met Rickin late January, 1995. He had joined the company in December and was just getting around to introducing himself to his employees. He was the Senior VP of Technololgy and I worked in that organization. I didn't really think much of Rick, good or bad. By the end of February, I was reporting to Rick as a result of several resignations. He seemed like a nice guy, a decent manager. He took me under his wing and provided alot of mentoring, It was Rick who promoted me into my first management position in March, 1995. I received a big raise and an office for the first time. I was part of Rick's 'management team' which was such an honor to me. Of course I was flattered by his actions and the confidence he showed in me. By all appearances, he was an honest and fair Executive who watched out for his employees, especially me. When bonuses were paid in May, 1995, I received 200% of target! No one had ever recognized my contributions like Rick. We would often walk to Starbucks for a coffee together, discussing business as we walked. Rick took me to lunch at Palio D'Asti's one day. He often scheduled lunches with his managers to catch up on events so I didn't think much of it. At lunch that day, some of our conversation was personal but that didn't really bother me. I had grown to trust Rick and admired his ability to connect with people. I remember him commenting that he was surprised that an attractive and successful woman like me was single and had never been married. I told him that I still hadn't met the right person.

In June, 1995, Rick invited me to join him for dinner to celebrate a milestone in the project we had been working on for years. My team had finally released the first version of software that our clients had been waiting for for months. It was common to celebrate milestones in the software world. I didn't ask him who else would be joining us.

On the evening of June 22, 1995, I went downstairs (I worked on the 19th floor of my building) to meet Rick and others in the lobby to go to dinner. The security guard of our building pointed to the white stretch limo waiting outside and told me it was waiting for Rick. I was a bit surprised. I couldn't really figure out what was going on but I wasn't worried. I trusted Rick.

It turned out there were only three of us that night, Rick, me and another man who had just started with the company. The white stretch limo was going to take us to dinner and around the town for the evening. I thought, Wow, a night on the town in San Francisco. How Fun! The last thing I remember about that evening was excusing myself from the table at dinner to go to the ladies room. My relationship with Rick King moved from professional to romantic that evening.

Rick was very charming and our relationship was intensely romantic and passionate. We had our first 'serious' talk at Pat O'Shea's, an Irish pub on Geary St. in San Francisco. We stopped in there after work to have a few beers. I decided to ask Rick some questions about his past as our professional relationship had clearly moved into something else. It was time I find out about his first marriage and his children. I had seen the pictures in his office so I knew there were children involved.

Rick began to tell me about his first marriage and the painful divorce he had just gone through. His divorce was final just that week. He had been married for fifteen years but he told me that he hadn't been happy for the last seven years of his marriage. He told me that he had repeatedly asked his first wife to seek counseling to save their marriage but she refused to believe their marriage had problems. I remeber feeling sad for Rick. He admitted that he had met a woman in San Diego at the office when he relocated there from Utah and a romantic relationship began between the two of them while his first wife and children were vacationing in Cape Cod. He told me that when his wife returned home with the kids to begin the school year, he told her about the affair and asked for a divorce. I was shocked and horrified but Rick had a way of smoothing things over. He told me that his first wife wanted to move back to Utah (they had just relocated to San Diego at the beginning of the summer) and so he drove her and his two children back there and made sure they were settled before he left. It was unsettling to hear all of this but somehow Rick made it sound plausible and OK. He was so charming and believable. When I asked Rick about the woman at the office, he told me that she had moved to San Franciso with him. They had been together for two years but had problems. He told me that she had decided to move back to San Diego with her daughter. My head was spinning. On the one hand, I trusted Rick because I had worked for him for several months but this was alot to take in for a single woman whose life had never been very complicated. I was particularly concerned that Rick had allowed his first wife to move his children back to Utah and he went along with the plan. I guess I had heard so many stories of divorces and custody battles and all that stuff. Rick told me that he didn't want to make it any harder on his first wife than necessary and since she wanted to move back to Utah and put the kids back in the same school, he agreed. He shared stories with me about his first marriage and what led up to the divorce. I felt sorry for Rick. It seemed to me that he had really tried to make things work and his first wife didn't care.

Rick also shared some of the financial aspects of his divorce that evening. He told me that he had lost more than half of his 401(k) and that he had to give his first wife half of the equity in their home. The numbers he shared with me were much bigger than I knew. I was renting a two bedroom apartment in San Francisco. I didn't have the assets he did. Since I knew a bit about 401(k) plans ( I started my career as a 401(K) administrator) I asked him why he had to give his first wife more than half of his plan assets. Rick told me he just wanted to make sure he took care of his responsibilities. That was good to hear!!

I was so overwhelmed by what Rick shared with me that evening. But I had worked for Rick for four months and felt like I could trust him. It never occurred to me that he could be misrepresenting the facts about his past.

It took more than six years for me to discover the truth about his first marriage.