We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are.
~ Anais Nin
As April drew to an end, I stayed on at Kimkins. I never pressed Kimmer about the banning, because I already knew I would not like anything she might say, and she never mentioned it. (In fact, our communication tended to be brief and to the point, because I already knew I did not want to be Heidi's friend.) Though I remained, I never trusted things quite like before, and it weighed heavily on me. Still, with the Kimkins issue of Woman's World magazine set to debut in early June, and the site getting revamped, I had plenty to do, so I just threw myself into the task at hand. It was a welcome diversion.
As these things tend to do, the site launched late, and the magazine came out early. The site had its good features, but was quite buggy and not as functional as the previous one. Boot Camp was revised and made even stricter (for the third time), some other plan details were changed, and two new ill-advised plans (the shake option and the vegetarian option) were sprung on us. Existing members were disgruntled at the changes, and still trying to figure out how to make profiles and avatars and signatures, when the magazine hit mailboxes. The magazine response was mind-blowingly astounding, far exceeding anybody's wildest imaginings. We jumped from less than 4000 members to around 40,000 in a matter of weeks. Literally thousands of new members were joining daily. Someone would post "New here today and looking for a buddy" and by day's end, there would be a buddy group with a hundred newbies in it. Sometimes the forums would be mobbed with 100 posts a minute, with questions filling up the pages and falling off to page 2 or page 3 before anyone could even see and answer it. New members would run from thread to thread posting a long string of frantic questions in random threads, and, not knowing how to navigate back to that thread, would go somewhere else and post them again. (Hi, I am new and need to lose 167 lbs. Could someone explain the diet. It says 20 carbs - whats a carb, and is that per meal or per day? Does that include the salads and vegetables, or are they extra? What about fruit, and can I have low-fat milk, and how do I get those pictures and other cute things by my name like you all have? I hope this works.) It felt like a stampede.
Earlier members had come in at a pace of a few a week, or a few a day at most, and usually came from other diet boards and low-carb sites. At the very least, they had been computer-savvy enough to have had looked online for a diet. These new members had seen a magazine cover in the check-out line, had been galvanized by the photos, captions, and promises, and had taken a $60 chance that this would be the answer they were seeking. The magazine claimed "Better than gastric bypass!" and many who now joined were desperate to lose 100 to 200 lbs. or more, as their last hope before surgery. Some had never dieted, and most had never done a low-carb plan before. Quite a few had never been online before, certainly not on a forum, and had no idea of the basics of low-carb dieting or of forum protocol. They were simply overwhelmed.
Kimmer wasn't posting on the board at all, most of the old members had understandably retreated to their journals and challenge groups, and I was the only moderator at the time, fitting it in around my store schedule at first. Even with me on the site 16 - 20 hr. days, it was impossible to keep up with answering posts and PMs and working on site structure and management, so we quickly recruited some more moderators and helpers, almost all volunteers as far as I know. Still there were relatively few of us who had been around a while, with thousands of new members online at any given moment in the forums and in chat, so it became the blind leading the blind. It was extremely frustrating for everyone.
I was running sleep-deprived, dozing off at the computer, until my rear end was calloused and my mouse arm hurt, trying to meet the massive needs all around me. I would sometimes put my head on my desk and cry. We just couldn't keep up in the forums, and we could only poke into chat once in a while. Soon, the mantra became 'Read the lists. Stick to the lists. If it's not on the lists, don't eat it' because there was no time for real mentoring. However, since the plans were vague and self-contradictory, they were open to a range of interpretations. As I would email Kimmer with my reports and concerns, I began to be more and more disillusioned, as I felt like we were working at cross-purposes. I was pressing for simple things that would serve the members and moderators, while she was all about sales and marketing. So, I just plowed ahead, doing the best I could with the forums, and not really stopping or stepping back to think about it.
When things got crazy, Kimmer almost immediately increased my pay to $600 a month in exchange for my reducing my store hours, plus a few 'good week' bonuses unexpectedly thrown in. It went to $1000 a month in mid-June for dropping the store altogether, and finally to $2000 a month in July, with additional projects expected now that the site had calmed down. She commissioned me to research the best way to start an online nutritional store, which I did. Heidi was to loan me $20,000 interest free, no payments for 6 months, payable over 5 years after that. I was to own and operate it, with part as Kimkins Kitchen, and part as our own venture, and Heidi would promote Kimkins Kitchen in the newsletter and website like she did Kimmerware, in exchange for a cut. My husband and I drew up a prospective product list, contacted and selected suppliers (prominent among them Netrition, incidentally), opened business accounts, and purchased domain names, business licenses, and DBAs. We were ready to pull the trigger on what might have been a good future . . . and we just couldn't. Too many things began troubling me. By August I was glad to call it a loss and walk away with $1000 severance, just to be free. Altogether, in gifts and compensation, I made $8090, plus a $50 Amazon gift certificate from my time at Kimkins.
What went wrong? Many things! Another incident in the end of June had sounded a warning in my soul, and I couldn't shake it. It may or may not be a big deal to others, but I am sure it was a terrible offense to those involved, and it was a waving red flag to me. In fact, out of everything, I am most ashamed of myself over this next part.
As I said, I was busy at first just trying to keep up, and viewing this as something I had always done for the members, and could now be paid to do so I could be home with my family more. I thought if I just got through the turbulence of the magazine spike, things could go back like they were before. Then someone posted a question in the Q & A, with two different after pictures of 'Kimmer', asking if it was the same person. I panicked and overreacted. Remembering that Kimmer had already banned two people for asking something similar, and worrying about our 'happy home' at Kimkins, and feeling a certain obligation to Kimmer now that I was taking her money, I plunged in and gave the same answer Kimmer had given to Christin and me when we had asked her about it, and I said it in a most condescending and sarcastic manner. I had an immediate sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, wanting to 'protect' Kimkins from unpleasantness, but suddenly somehow just 'knowing' that I had unwittingly lied for Kimmer, and behaved quite badly doing it. I had been mean and nasty to someone, to squelch debate. I felt heartsick, and wondered what I had gotten myself into and what I was becoming. I emailed Kimmer, told her about the thread, and told her that I had been unfair and unkind to the member in response to a fair and innocent question, and was going to humbly apologize for the mess I made of it as soon as I got back from a medical appointment. Kimmer said fine - but when I got home, I found an email saying she had gotten mad and moved their thread and told off the ladies in question. After that, everything was harder, because my heart was not in it like before.
So, katinsac, wherever you are, I ask your forgiveness for my rude response to your good question. You were right to ask, and I was wrong to answer as I did. I am sorry!
If banning Amy and Kiki had been Strike 1, this was Strike 2.