Hi. Welcome back to Stuck In A Truck. My name's Steve Greenhalgh. And today I'm going to do the backstory that I mentioned in the video, “How to save your marriage by improving communication.”
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This is something I've buried for a very, very long time.
In my younger years, I was a very successful hotelier. Worked for De Vere Hotels, worked in four or five-star hotels for a good few years. Had a good reputation. Was really good at my job. I loved working with people, both customers, and staff.
I worked abroad. I worked in Papua New Guinea for Coral Sea Hotels. Had a fabulous time there. When we came home from there, we were going to go and do another overseas contract. But, things didn't quite work out that way. And when Judi and I got married, we were working in a Manchester city center hotel.
And just off-spec, I applied for a job in the Caterer to be a GM in the Lake District. My parents had always enjoyed the Lake District, we enjoyed walking. And it seemed like a good gig.
And when I went for the interview, I mentioned that in one of the hotels in PNG, we actually used a forklift to load the beer fridges, because we used to get through so much. And apparently, that was one of the reasons they offered me the job because it had a massive public bar and a huge public bar turnover on bank holidays.
Not A Publican
I'm not a publican. And I just wanted a job with a flat, with a car. And this job turned into that. And I was trying to make a two and a half-star coaching pub into… And I was applying five-star rules to it, and it didn't work. And I wasn't very successful. And we didn't do very well. And it was a bit of a disaster.
And after 12 months… For our first wedding anniversary, and bear in mind, we're newly married, very young, didn't really have a clue. Judy had been in the hotel and hated it. She went and got a job at a proper hotel. And so we were struggling.
The Beginning Of The End
And on our first wedding anniversary, I'd booked us out for one night to go away. And the guy who owned it said, “I'll be in for a meal on Saturday night.” I said, “Oh, it's fine. My assistant will be in, the restaurant manager will be in, head chef's in, but unfortunately, it is our first wedding anniversary. We're away for that night. And I've booked it out.”
And I got a, “No if I'm having dinner, you will be in the hotel.”
And I said, “Well, yeah. You can come Friday night, I'll be here. If you come Sunday night, I'll be here. But Saturday night, I'm away. And it's been booked for a while.”
“I don't think you understand. Come and see me.”
So, jumped into my car and drove to the hotel where the managing director's office was. And he said, “You will be there on Saturday night.”
I said, “No, I won't.”
He said, “Do you want this job?”
And I said, “If it means I've got to be there Saturday night, no.”
And I got my keys with me and I said, “Look, there are the keys. I'll go and empty the flat, and we'll be gone. Get somebody in, whatever. But if you feel like that… ”
He said, “Yeah, I'll send somebody down to take over your handover. And, where are you, three months' notice? We'll pay that, and you just get gone.”
So, that was that. Bang! Boom!
A Year In Then Out
So, we had bought a house up in Cumbria. And we did a 24-hour flit. We moved all our stuff, moved everything, got the old car out, rescued that, rescued the piano. Moved everything up in under 12 hours. Handed over to Andrew, who's a decent bloke, very embarrassed.
And so we moved into our little house with our two big woofly dogs, up in Shap in Cumbria. And we were happy. We were away from it. We were out of it. Because I'd been working. You know what it's like, 16, 17 hour days, seven days a week. Half a day here, half a day there. Nothing. No way to live, but if you want to succeed, that's the gig.
We'd had a couple of stock issues that I was homing in on. Shortages of wines and stuff like that. And I was getting to the bottom of it. But nothing major, no catastrophes. So, we're sitting there, I'm looking for alternative work, looking for anything I can do hotel-wise.
Starting To Move On
And one evening we were just sitting there when there was a knock on the door. I go to the door, two coppers that I used to drink with, in the pub that I'd just been managing, are there. And they said, “Ah, can we have a word?”
I said, “Yeah, yeah. Come in.” And they arrested me. And they put me in the car and they took me down to Kendal Police Station. And they took my shoelaces, my belt, my cigarettes, my lighter, anything, everything off me. And they put me in a cell. And they left me there for six hours.
And I'm thinking, “What the fuck is going on here?” And if I wanted a cigarette, I'd have to knock on the door. And a man would come and open the door and light the cigarette and give it to me. And, “Thank you very much.” And I was scared because I didn't know what was going on.
And then I was interviewed. And they said, “What about this money? What about that money?” And they said, “The hotel are very upset. There's a lot of stuff missing and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…”
I said, “No.” And I was able to account for everything.
And to put this into perspective, there was obviously a petty cash facility at the hotel. And every Monday morning, the company accountant would call in and we would go through all the petty cash tabs. And he'd say, “What's this one? What's this one? What's this one?”
And I'd identify what they all were. And he'd say, “Right, the company will pay for that, for that, for that… But this is personal. So you owe me a check for whatever.” And it worked. And there was no intent, there was no dishonesty or anything.
And the policemen had been going through all these tens of thousands of pieces of stock missing and everything else. And then, towards the… And I had not asked for a solicitor to be present because I hadn't done anything wrong. I was 100% clear that there was nothing going on that I didn't know about, that I couldn't answer honestly.
And I've always worked on the principle, “If you're honest, the truth will set you free.” So, I hadn't had a solicitor. Huge mistake. If ever you're interviewed by the police, have a solicitor. Doesn't matter whether you're innocent, guilty, whatever. Have a solicitor, because they will protect you from incriminating yourself.
So being interviewed for about an hour and a half, and they brought a couple of petty cash slips out. One was for a couple of chef's knives. And one was for a big wooden chopping board. And they said, “What are these?”
I said, “Oh, one of those chef's knives was a birthday present for the head chef. The other one was for me. And the chopping board is my personal one.”
He said, “Right. Okay. So, what would happen?”
And I went through the scenario. “Every Monday morning, Mr. [Mann 00:08:11] would come and he'd go through the receipts. And if it was personal, I'd write a check. If it wasn't, if it was allowable, then it went to the hotel and it was signed off.”
And he said, “So do you, you're still in possession?”
I said, “Yeah, absolutely. I've got one chef's knife and the chopping board.”
He said, “Will you write to the company and let them know that you owe them the money.”
I said, “They owe me three months' money. What would you do?”
He said, “No, seriously, Mr. Greenhalgh, will you write and let them know? Or will you inform them?”
I said, “No, I don't think so. If they pay me, then yeah. But other than that, no.”
He said, “Right. Okay, that's fine. Thank you. The interview is over.”
I said, You What?
He said, “Interview's over. You better phone your wife and come and get you.”
And they just put me outside. And I thought, “What the hell?”
And it went from that to court. I refused to be taken to court in our local little county court. And it went to Crown Court. And the judge said, “You are flagrantly, and have flagrantly admitted to attempting to evade liability, by deception.” Which is a posh way of saying, fraud! “I hereby sentence you to two years suspended, and fine you £800.”
Always Protect Yourself From Yourself
I was absolutely dropped on. And because I had admitted that I… Or because I'd stated, that I probably wouldn't tell the company that I'd had this 40 quids of the stuff, that is attempting to evade liability by deception. Had I had a solicitor, he'd have whispered in my ear and said, “Yes, absolutely. Of course, I will alert them.”
Because that way I wouldn't be attempting to evade liability. But I didn't have a solicitor. And it was indefensible because whatever. So, there I was, newly married, unemployable, criminal record, £800 fine, didn't have any money. And then got the hotel company out of paying me over three months' money. Because of gross misconduct.
Now, the impact that had is massive. For those of you that don't know me, honesty is my number one value. Honesty and integrity matter more to me than I think anything else. And that's why I so glibly said, “No, probably not. Probably wouldn't tell them.” It's real hard.
Now, talking to my mum and dad, obviously, they found out. Obviously. To put that into perspective, I remember my dad would go on a trip to Hong Kong and he came out of the Hilton, the Hong Kong Hilton, and he saw an envelope on the floor. And it had over, the equivalent in Hong Kong Yan, and I don't know what the number was, but it was the equivalent to a £100,000 sterling, whatever the amount was.
And my dad looked at it… And that, can you imagine that I'm going back, I was seven, so that's going back 40, 53 years. How much that would be worth now, it's close to a million pound in real terms.
And he just turned on his heel, walked in, asked to see the GM and said, “Look, I've just found this on the pavement outside. I'm sure somebody will be wanting to find it.” And he gave him his name and address. And the bloke… And that, my dad, couldn't have put that in his pocket and walked on. He could… He'd… It was not possible for him to do that.
Shame -The True Impact
And, you are the… You become… The Apple doesn't fall far from the tree. And with those sorts of standards, I couldn't be anything other than honest. So, for my dad, devastation. How could his son be a criminal?
And it didn't spoil the relationship, but there was always that sort of, “Oh, poor Steven. Poor Steven. Oh dear, your reputation. Oh dear, unconscionable.”
And of course, I always thought that… And this ties it into that video from three weeks ago. Me and Judy never really talked about it. And she kind of knew the background and she knew what I'd said and all the rest of it. But, I just assumed that… Because it really fucked us. Can you imagine, I couldn't get a job. In all those years of work, being a licensee, just gone.
I ended up laboring just to pay some bills. Just… Anyway, it's no point being sad, it is what it is. And we've come out of it and look where we are and four great children and all the rest of it. But it put a real strain on us.
And we've worked it out. But, it's always been that sort of subject that you never talk about. And it was only when we were in the Lake District for Tom's birthday a month ago and we went past the hotel in Bowness. And she came out with, “God, they knew what they were doing.”
“They knew what they were doing. They really did.”
If we'd have been able to have a full and frank discussion at the time… Maybe we couldn't, maybe we were too young, maybe were too upset and it was all too raw and it just needed time. And I'm not saying go force these things. I think time is really important in coming to the healing part of life.
That, yeah. It was tough. Okay. Real tough.
So, that's my deep dark secret. Not very secret anymore, is it? So, hey, it's all good. Hope you got something out of it.
Okay. You take care. I will speak to you next week. Look after yourselves. Bye-bye.
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