A Roller-Coaster Year of Recovery & Success

It was June 2009. I came to the store early one morning as I usually did. People said I was giving my life for the store, but little did I know this would almost come to fruition. I found a flood in the basement. As I was cleaning it up, I heard stomping on the street trap door. Then, there was no more sound. I went up the stairs to see what was going on. I was flabergasted when I found three hoodlums cleaning out the cash register. They ran out, but one of them punched me in the face. I fell backwards on my head. I thought I was going to be all right, but a month later the brain injury became severe. I spent months in hospitals–New York Presbyterian, Mount Sinai, and Terence Cardinal Cooke. I was left for dead by some devious people. But, I managed to spring back to relative normalcy until I was allowed to return to the store when the malevolent person fled. The attack and injury were bad enough, but the malicious actions of one person nearly prevented me from resuming my life.

When I came back to the store, it was still there–although I would say it was a shell of itself. When I went to the hospital, I knew that my trusted employees–Allan Maharaj, Mohammad Alam, Maurilio Paula, Shah Elahi and John Gray (who died in April)–could run the store without me, and I was pleased that they stuck by me and the store. If it weren’t for nefarious interference of certain third parties, the store would probably have stayed on an even keel. But, these third parties, who had no business being there, savaged the business, cutting costs and sales and looking only to sell or bankrupt the company.

The creation of myself and Gene Burdge in 1986 stood on the brink of untimely and unnecessary destruction. This was like my baby, and the immoral acts were like an abortion. I am pleased to report that I and the store have successfully survived.

We may be having tough times, but so is everyone else. We will succeed against the odds. I think staying in business and growing for 25 years through tubulent times is testimony to our determination, which comes from the heart.

I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be able to write this after a year of torture. Nothing will block my path again. Thank all of you for being there for me and us.

To set the record straight, I never “retired” from CitiFloral and I remained Chairman and owner all along, and my nephew was never the owner or legitimate manager. My injury created temporary problems, but if you read my nephew’s inernet diatribes you would think otherwise. If you listened to my sister, you would have thought I was dying. Forunately, this was untrue–basically, I was made to suffer from preconcieved notions and concocted wishes. What goes around comes around. I believe that there is and will be justice in this world.

By the way, all five of the criminals were initially arrested. One was sentenced to prison and another to jail. We are still awaiting return of the stolen money. But, at least I have my life back–and that’s worth more than all the money in the world.

–Jeff Gaster

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