Saturday, February 24, 2018

BACK TO REALITY... Same ole, same ole (Part 165j)

BACK TO REALITY… Same ole, same ole (Part 165j)

Among other things on my mind was that my three year anniversary with the bank was coming up. The way the salary committee handled salary reviews and subsequent salary increases was to do it on a quarterly basis. At the September full Board meeting anyone with an anniversary date in the following three months would be presented and, hopefully, approved. I was in that group. For raises I was responsible for taking the individual reviews done by an employee’s supervisor and applying a formula to it to come up with a dollar range for an increase. My work was then turned over to the salary committee who, in turn, would present it to the Board for approval. I certainly wasn’t going to do my own and, with my recent run-ins with Jerry, was concerned with what was in store for me. I’d managed to keep myself calm up to this point but with the meeting the next day I couldn’t avoid thinking/worrying about my raise. It was another long long night of tossing and turning.

At work I found that Joanie was “on loan” to J J. Without Lynn who prepared the mortgage applications for the weekly mortgage committee meeting he’d looked to Joanie’s replacement, Bea, to do it. However, for whatever reason, he’d not checked up on her work until just before he left for home Tuesday evening and found she’d totally screwed up. She'd gone for the day so it had to be redone. With the full Board meeting that day it would’ve been a major embarrassment to have the wrong material presented. So, without asking he just called to her downstairs and told her to come up to his office. With J J being an officer Joanie wasn’t about to protest. I think I set a new time record for going up the stairs on my way to his office. He, in title was senior to me, but he didn’t have the authority to pick and chose who he wanted to do different jobs. I arrived to find the door closed but I was PO’d enough to just barge in. Joanie was sitting in the side chair with J J hovering over her pointing to some papers she was holding. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it wasn’t complimentary with the gist of it being that I’d had enough of his BS. He feigned shock but I’d been through this sort of thing with him in the past. I understood the rationale for needing Joanie as she was the only employee there who had any experience preparing the mortgages for the meetings. But his high handed approach really pissed me off. She now had the responsibility for preparing for the monthly Board meeting and all the reports that went with it. I really wasn’t worried because Trish was there to do it but I wasn’t about to let him ‘off the hook’. Wound up, just a bit, I went after him and his choice to replace Lynn telling him that I had serious doubts about her abilities and that I was going “on the record” about it. Recognizing that I had him ‘back on his heels’ a bit ‘went for the jugular’ telling him that since it was only a temporary position I had authority to hire the most experienced person for the job. I don’t remember what he said as I walked out the door but knew he wouldn’t take the attack lightly.

Hobie’s area was right under the stairs and as I reached the bottom he’d just settled in at his desk. He could see I was agitated and I’m sure he expected it had to do with Jerry. I’m sort of laughing as I write this as he was in absolute shock when I told him what J J had done and he realized it had nothing to do with Jerry. I also have to admit that as petty as the whole situation sounds his first question was about the preparations for the materials he needed for the Board. When I told him Trish would have it ready he relaxed. Then he said he’d speak to Bert (the president) about J J... again. It wasn’t the first time and was actually part of a continuing pattern. With that bit of information I headed for Trish’s desk and told her what I’d just told J J. She didn’t believe I’d call the lady who’d been there the previous day to tell her not to report. I told her to just watch me make the call.

My call was quick and I really did feel badly. But, plain and simple, she didn’t have the skills to fill the position. I told her that we’d keep her application on file and promised we’d call when we had a vacancy that didn’t have those specific skills. I expected some push back but there was none. The next call went to the lady with experience. She was so excited she said she could be there within the hour. I laughed and said that the next day would be better. Trish was in shock and as soon as I hung up the phone she was at my desk. I remember her exact words… “You’re unbelievable!”. Then, with a smile, wanted to know what I thought J J’s reaction would be. I was counting on what Hobie had told me that he’d speak to Bert about J J so I told her I didn’t think he’d have much to say. All I could do was hope it went that way.

If there was one good thing about that little skirmish it was that it got my mind off what my review/raise would be. I wasn’t worried that the incident with J J would play any role in it. In truth, I was counting on Gee, the Trustee/attorney, standing up for me. I’d found out that it was Gee who’d put me up for the position on the Personnel Management committee with the banking association. In any case, it was out of my hands and, anyway, I wouldn’t get the word until my actual anniversary date. I hated that policy and was working on getting it changed. It didn’t save the bank any money and just created more work for the accounting department.

Trish got Hobie’s reports and the minutes from the last meeting done in time for the meeting. Joanie struggled a bit with the mortgages because she’d actually only done it a few times when Lynn had been on vacation. I made a point to go upstairs to get her back as soon as the Board meeting started. J J had gone into the meeting to present the mortgages so there was no confrontation. Joanie let me know right away she was very happy to now be working downstairs in the operations area. I couldn’t resist asking her what happened after I left his office. She had a hard time trying not to smile but made the comment that J J was not very happy and told her “I’d pushed his button one time too many” or something like it. When I asked if he’d tried to take his anger out on her she said that he never got a chance as he was called into Bert’s office. That brought out a big smile from me. Hobie had come through and it was a nice feeling to know he had. Now, what was going to be very interesting was J J’s reaction to the lady he’d somewhat disparaged her looks as she reported for work the next day.

Bret had been at the branch (in place of me) so hadn’t been a part of any of the ‘action’. Although Bret didn’t have that much interaction with J J he resented the fact that he lauded his position over both of us. The funny part of that was J J was a constant source of ‘chatter’ in his own department with employees making  comments about the way he carried himself. They resented the fact that he had favorites and somewhat ignored the rest. So, when I told him what had happened he just shook his head and made a comment that the visit to Bert’s office wouldn’t really change anything in the long run. I couldn’t disagree but was happy to have “won” that day.

To be continued…

Friday, February 23, 2018

BACK TO REALITY... Same ole, same ole (Part 165i)

BACK TO REALITY… Same ole, same ole (Part 165i)

Back at the bank I was able to get caught up on J J’s interviews. Two of the applicants had come in and I’d missed them both. Trish told me the one we figured would be J J’s choice couldn’t make it until the next day which was OK by me. That meant I’d get a chance to get another look at her. My perverse nature prevailed and I gave a call to J J to get his ‘take’ on the two he’d interviewed. I was especially interested to hear what he said about the woman with some applicable experience. I was struggling to picture her in my mind but knew that if he were really looking for someone to step into Lynn’s position without having to do a fair amount of training she was the one. I gave a thought to letting Trish listen in but chickened out at the last second promising to tell her exactly what he said.

Up to the time the two women arrived for their interviews nothing had been officially released on Lynn’s situation… just that she had some serious intestinal problems. We all know how rumors get started and the first was that she’d been let go… fired… canned. It’s impossible to stop them once started but because of privacy concerns, Bert, the president, had decided that saying nothing was the best way to handle it. By the time I called J J there was another rumor and it was said she was pregnant. Trish was the one who heard that first and jumped in to try and quash that at the start. However, there had been ‘whispers’ about Lynn and J J for a long time and there was no denying some of the details. Idle or empty minds can create some thoughts that can’t be challenged and it was looking like this was one of those cases. I felt a little sorry for Trish as I knew there was some relationship between Lynn’s and Trish’s families and it was hard for her to listen to the ’noise’.

Getting back to my call to J J, it was obvious he was not impressed with either of the choices, so far. I tried to impress upon him that we were only filling the position on a temporary basis and finding people to work for an unspecified period of time was almost impossible. I specifically asked about the lady with experience and his answer was typical J J… “Did you really take a look at her?”. If I hadn’t expected such a boorish answer I would’ve been shocked. But J J was true to form. I didn’t react negatively but did tell him that if he wanted a person to sit at the desk normally occupied by Lynn, choose one… and hung up. Trish’s reaction was a little more animated but, having watched him for the past few years wasn’t surprised. In the end we fully expected him to pick the woman who was coming in the next day… attractive but with the least experience.

That wasn’t my main thought for that Tuesday. The vestry meeting that evening at the church to review the viability of the new Thrift Shoppe was ‘front and center’. Elle had volunteered to be a part of the group to go through all the clothes in the undercroft of the church but, when I was leaving for work let me know she wasn’t all that thrilled about it. I was committed to making sure that if the decision was to continue with the shop that there were rules of operation with clear cut lines of authority. The lady from the Ladies Auxiliary who had assumed the leadership was not a favorite of mine and I was sure she’d be a problem at the meeting that night. If there was one thing I was looking forward to was the day to be over.

The lady for J J’s third interview was right on time. I’d not been able to see or speak to the other two but I was determined to speak with this one. To be truthful I didn’t know what to say to her but to remind her that the position wasn’t permanent. She appeared to understand and as she headed for the elevator to meet with J J I could see Trish smiling. When about a half hour passed and she hadn’t returned I just knew J J had made up his mind. I chatted with Trish and found she had all the paperwork ready to be completed. It was another reminder that her promotion was warranted. J J accompanied her to the platform and the look on his face was one of having won a contest. But it was so typical of J J that I just sat at my desk and shook my head. Her name was Ellen and it wasn’t until she was with Trish finishing up that she told her that she had to take the bus to work. Not that it was a deterrent to her being hired but it precluded her form any overtime work. Since I often worked late I knew that Lynn, who she’d be replacing, would work late almost each and every Tuesday to prepare the mortgage submissions for the mortgage committee meetings each Wednesday. I had to wonder how J J would react to that piece of information.

At supper that evening Elle reviewed her day and working with the other women at the church. I definitely remember her saying that she took a shower when she got home. Another thing was in her telling me that the project had been “daunting”. What I was most interested in was what was left that people might buy. When I asked she smiled… and said “Not much”… but added there was some “good stuff”. I couldn’t wait to get to the meeting to have a look for myself. Arriving at the church I headed straight for the undercroft. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. The women had completely rearranged the area. The items they had kept were displayed in a manner that would make them easy to peruse. I was impressed.

We had 100% attendance at the meeting, the first time since I joined the vestry. There was one person missing… the lady who had taken charge of the Thrift Shoppe and had set it up. I took that as a good thing. The minister opened the meeting by saying that she had resigned from the Ladies Auxiliary and would not participate with the program any more. I’ve bored you enough with this thread so won’t go into the details of the meeting. But what was accomplished was the shop would stay in business and that the minister would oversee the operation of it. The three women (including Elle) who’d gone through the clothing  review would continue to be involved. To close the meeting the minister told us that the mother of the woman who had recently died in a car crash was going to donate all her daughter’s clothing to the store once the family closed out her apartment in the city. The consensus was that since she was in her 30’s her clothes would probably be in style. The question was how long it would be before the church would get them. In any case there was a plan for moving forward. I just wondered how much of it would involve Elle and I.

To be continued…

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

BACK TO REALITY... Same ole, same ole (Part 165h)

BACK TO REALITY… Same ole, same ole (Part 165h)

Back at home I told Elle about the scene at the Thrift Shoppe and the mess that was left behind when the minister closed it down. She disagreed with me for leaving it that way but I held to my position. I felt the only way to turn it around was for more people to actually see what had happened rather than to just hear about it. With the minister calling for a special vestry meeting it was my hope the parishioners would want to know why and could be referred down to the undercroft to see for themselves. I made the comment to Elle that most of the stuff was worthless and should be taken to the landfill. Upon hearing that she sort of changed her ‘tune’ and asked if I wanted to go through the cardboard cartons now stored in the garage. It was an excellent idea.

I don’t want to belabor the point but what we found was almost totally worthless. I think there were six or seven cartons and a number of what I remember my parents called “coat boxes”; long and not very deep. After a bite to eat we set the kids up in the playhouse to keep them busy and started in. Almost all the clothes were pre WWII in style and a lot of them were wool. Having been stored for so long, moths had done a number on them. That included suits, sports jackets, pants and winter coats. There was a fair amount of women’s clothing as well, mostly dark colors and, in the age of Aquarius, totally out of style. Anything that had been at one time white was now yellow. I was ready to haul it all to the landfill after we got through but Elle said she wanted to make a phone call. One of our friends from back in the days when we were part of the 'group' that was trying to get younger candidates elected to the school board was a volunteer for a group started by priests and ministers from the two villages just to the east of us. The group was called CAST (and I can’t remember what it stood for) and they were a forerunner of groups who now help the homeless. Remember, this was back in the 60’s and the term “homeless” hadn’t yet been coined.

Because our area was rural with the main business being farming, the farmers would hire a ‘crew boss’ to find migrant laborers to harvest the crops. The farmer would pay the ‘boss’ who, in turn, would pay the migrants (sometimes). At the end of the season the ‘boss’ would often take the last pay of the season and take off without any thought for the migrants leaving them without anything. CAST was trying to step in and provide clothes and some meals for those left behind. In any case, Elle wanted to get in touch with Phyl to see if she wanted the clothes for CAST before I disposed of them. Surprisingly, even after seeing the condition of most, she took it all off our hands. As far as the lady in charge of the Thrift Shoppe was concerned, I was prepared to tell her it went for a good cause.

I went to both the 8am and 10am services at church on Sunday. The reaction by the parishioners was mixed but did generate some volunteers who were younger than the ladies in the auxiliary to go through all the stuff in the basement. Elle was a volunteer as well and they set a date of Tuesday to cull out stuff that had little likelihood of being purchased. Most of the vestry attended one or other of the services so they had a first hand look at what the problem was. The timing for the volunteer group couldn’t have been better because the vestry was meeting that very night. If the volunteers were even moderately successful the vestry would be able to make a judgement as to the viability of the shop by observing what was left to sell. When we headed home I had no idea where it was all going but it had to be better than what it had been.

Paramount on my mind as I arrived at work Monday morning was certainly not that the bank was going to be examined (audited). All banks are examined by three different entities each year… The Federal government (FDIC); the State Banking Department and also an auditing firm hired by the bank. It was the last of these that was camped out at the back door when I arrived. I had never really accepted the need for this type examination. In my limited experience I discerned that all the firm did was to read the reports generated by the others and then make themselves look busy going over the things the other two had questioned and then regurgitated it. It was redundant and an expense I couldn’t see as necessary. But, who was I to question their existence? What it meant for me was a disruption in being able to service the customers as well as creating havoc in the workplace because I had to find space for them to be able to do their work. Normally, the Board room would be turned over to them for the week they were there. However, this was the week for the full Board meeting and I knew the Board wouldn’t be willing to be displaced.

On my way to work I’d been looking forward to seeing if the three applicants for the temporary position created by Lynn’s leave of absence would be in for interviews with J J. By the time I had all the tellers up and operating (the auditors have to count all the cash before they are allowed to wait on customers) and had found desk space, such as it was, for all of them it was close to 11am. I thought I’d get a ‘breather’ and time for a cup of coffee but there was a problem. The woman in charge of the group (a 40 something) had been unaware that the bank had shifted its depositor accounting to a service bureau. What should’ve happened was for a couple of the people from the audit firm to go to the service bureau before we started processing accounts. Their lady was like the proverbial ‘chicken with his or her head cut off’, not knowing what to do. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that her line supervisor wasn’t available. When she came to me the noon siren had just gone off. She went on to tell me they were leaving. I didn’t know weather to laugh or get mad. The reason I say that is that once the audit ‘team’ gets settled in they usually aren’t that much of a problem. The decision to leave meant I’d be facing their chaos again sometime if the future. Here it was, noon, and I’d not accomplished anything. I remember wondering what else could/would go wrong.

As soon as Bret was back from lunch I took off. Wanting to get my mind off the bank I headed for the brokerage office thinking that Lynda would be a nice diversion. It would’ve been if she’d been there. Stan, my broker, was just on his way to lunch and asked if I wanted to join him. I knew he usually ate right across the street at Michael’s Lounge and they had good lunches. We got caught up a bit before I asked where Lynda was. He seemed surprised by my question so answered it with one of his own… “You didn’t know?”. I didn’t so sat and listened to him tell me that her husband’s Army Reserve unit had been called to active duty and that she was with him as he drove to his duty station out West. Lynda had never said much about her husband other than he worked for his father, a Chevrolet dealer. With my questioning look Stan explained that he’d “been gaming the system” by transferring from one reserve unit to another and that the Army had caught up with him. I couldn’t tell if that made Stan happy or not but he definitely had a bit of a smirk on his lips.

To be continued…

Sunday, February 18, 2018

BACK TO REALITY... Same ole, same ole (Part 165g)

BACK TO REALITY… Same ole, same ole (Part 165g)

The three applications that I chose to present to J J were just about as different as could be imagined. One, however, was there as a ‘test’. Of the three she had the most experience but was the least attractive. One of the other two was very attractive and, as far as memory takes me, had the least experience. The last one hadn’t worked in a number of years but had the most mature outlook. When I turned them back to Trish I told her which one I expected J J to choose. All she could do was smile. After Joanie delivered them to him I was surprised it took him so long to get to me. “ASAP’ was his instruction as far as getting them in for him to interview.

My weekend was ‘stacked’ with things to do… the price of being away for a week. One good thing was that I’d cut the grass so that gave me more time for all the rest. I’d talked with the minister about my concerns with the Thrift Shoppe and he asked if I could be there for the opening. I went right to the church after my weekly visit to the landfill and was expecting to see people waiting for the doors to open. There might have been three or four who were by the door to the undercroft (basement). There was a small sign tacked to the door that gave the hours… 9am to 1pm… and that was all. The name of the shop was no where to be seen and there was nothing by the sidewalk or the parking lot to bring any attention to the endeavor. I did notice some more boxes and bags had been stacked in where the trash barrels were located and just shook my head. I opened the door and went down the five steps to the shoppe. I stood at the bottom and saw a number of women (the ladies auxiliary) standing around and tables stacked high with clothing. There were no signs identifying what was on each table. I remember standing there shaking my head. I didn’t see the minister walk up but I heard him when he asked “What do you think?”

I know I didn’t answer right away and I honestly do remember thinking of the words I’d heard Morris, the bank’s consultant, tell me candidly about his original thoughts on the bank’s new branch… ‘close it down and start over…’. It was almost 9am and there was not much that could be done to make it any better so I gave him my best mealy mouthed answer… “We’ll just have to wait and see.” It was a good thing there were so few people waiting. When they walked in I found myself having to move/lift clothes up so they could get to the item(s) that wanted to see. It only took a few minutes before over half the piles were no longer neat and quite a few items were on the floor. By 9:30am there were more people but the room was in chaos. Many of the items had not been priced and some that were were grossly overpriced. By 10:30am the situation was out of control and after talking with me the minister he closed it down. The lady who was in charge complained to him about it and he pretty much ignored her. Then, she just stormed out. I, for one was relieved. As I’d posted before, I thought the Thrift Shoppe idea was getting out of hand and this proved it.

My original intention was to just stop to observe for a short time and then leave. I’d been there for almost two hours by then and the minister called me up to his office to discuss the situation. I won’t bore you with all the machinations and will ‘cut to the quick’. I suggested that a special Vestry meeting be called and that the head of the ladies Auxiliary be there. He wanted to know what to do with the mess in the undercroft and I told him to just leave it. He disagreed but after listening to my reasons, gave in. Before leaving I told him the things that I’d observed that, if the shop was to continue, needed to be addressed. I think it surprised him was that the whole list came right off the top of my head. I’d never wanted to be a part of it and now it looked like I was right in the middle of it.

On Friday night I’d received a call from my new sailing friend, Marty, asking if I could help him with a boat he’d just obtained. Marty was true sailing “nut” and even though the Summer sailing season had ended he was preparing for Winter racing. It was given the name “frostbiting” because, back in those days, wet suits (or dry suits) had not yet been developed and if a boat capsized and you got wet you were subject to being frostbitten. It was usually done in small  dingy boats with the most predominant class being called the Penguin. The Penguin was only 11 feet long and had but one sail. They could fit in the back of a pick up truck and Marty had stumbled across a boat that had been abandoned. The man who owned the property where it was located told him to just come and take it away. Marty had just rebuilt his Comet class sailboat and from what he told me, this was going to be a similar project. He needed me to help get the boat out of the back of the truck and expected to be back to his house around 11;30am. It was only took a few minutes from the church to his house so headed there, even if it meant waiting for him.

Pulling in his driveway there was no way not to see what was hanging on the wash line over in his neighbor’s yard. Nothing special but, since I’d seen the woman, it was exciting to see what she wore for panties. I sat there staring at them for a minute or two before getting out to see if Marty’s wife was home. She wasn’t and there was a note in the door that she’d gone shopping. I went back to stare at the panties and got the idea to make a flying trip home to get the Polaroid camera. The last thing I’d done the night before was to go to the camera store next to the bank to buy a pack of film. On my way back to my house I had to come up with a reason to be there and then to leave  right away for Elle. She was out in the garden so I was able to grab the camera bag and get back to my car without being asked. With her being busy it gave me more time to come up with a believable story when I returned. Now, all I could do was hope that Marty was running late.

Holding my breath as I turned into Marty’s drive I was elated to see he hadn’t made it home. I remember fumbling trying to load the film into the camera. One thing I remember about using that camera was that I’d have to make a few adjustments, depending on the picture, and would sometimes screw up the first one. I was sitting behind the steering wheel when I snapped the picture and as soon as I did I saw a pick up truck pulling in behind me. That meant no time to develop it. Marty apologized for being late and, in truth, I was happy that he was. It only took a few minutes to unload the boat and for him to show me what he had to do to make it raceable. He asked if I’d crew for him during the Winter but I told him I was really warm weather racer. After leaving his house I pulled to the side of the road to see what I’d got for a picture. This is it...

        
To be continued...

Friday, February 16, 2018

BACK TO REALITY... Same ole, same ole (Part 165f)

BACK TO REALITY… Same ole, same ole (Part 165f)

At work, I knew it was only a matter of time before Jerry would be part of a conversation. I’d been avoiding bringing his name up and would’ve liked to have made through that whole week without having to deal with him. As you know, in life we all have to deal with people who ‘march to a different drummer’. What, to me, was the most annoying thing about Jerry was when talking to him he would verbally acknowledge that he understood what you were telling him to do and then he’d go do it his way… and get out of it by saying that he’d misunderstood. While I was away Hobie had Bret get in touch with him to get some activity numbers. When he presented them they weren’t what he was asked for. When Hobie called him out on it he swore he did what Bret had asked for. When I heard about it from Bret I did what I wan’t supposed to do… and that was get on Jerry’s ‘case’. The first thing Jerry did was to call Hobie to complain about me. Naturally Hobie called me over to his area to discuss it. As soon as Hobie started I bolted away and went to get Bret. That didn’t set too well with Hobie but I forewarned Bret what would be happening. I took a little heat but this time I stood my ground and pointedly asked Hobie if he ever asked Bret just what he’d instructed Jerry to do. I don’t think he answered but I then told Bret to repeat, to the best of his ability, what Jerry’s instructions were.

Long story short, Hobie admitted that he should’ve gone to Bret right away when he realized the information wasn’t formatted in the way he wanted. He’d just called Jerry. I remember standing in front of Hobie’s desk sort of pacing. I honestly remember thinking that I should keep my mouth shut… but I didn’t. Even though Hobie had warned me to “lay off” Jerry I just couldn’t take his incompetence. I know it was unfair of me to try to get Bret involved but I did and asked him to give some recent examples of Jerry not following procedures. He was able to get out a few before Hobie stood up and told us to both stop. Even though we were in Hobie’s area which was located under the stairs to the second floor and everything that was said could be heard upstairs, he told us that he agreed, in principle, with us, but Jerry was there to stay… and that we (Bret and I) had but two choices… stay or go. It was very, very clear that he was serious. He, still standing, gave us pretty much the same spiel I’d heard before. I probably took a few deep breaths before I spoke again and it was to ask how we, Bret and I, could operate in such a bizarre workplace landscape. The words from Hobie’s mouth came out like bullets… “Find a way!” Bret was really concerned as we walked back to our desks. All I could do was to apologize to him explaining that Jerry had ‘thrown him under the bus’ on the information request and that I was trying to make sure that Jerry got the blame. I know we stood there talking for a few minutes but about what, I have no idea.

Trish waited until I was seated at my desk before approaching me with a batch of employment applications in her hand. I was in no mood to go over them at that moment but did ask why she had them. I know she had to know that both Bret and I were upset but she sat down in the side chair at my desk anyway. She motioned for me to come closer so she could whisper something to me. As I said, I was in no mood for this sort of thing and told her to speak up. Then, surprisingly, she asked Bret if he could leave his desk for a few minutes. I remember him making some sort of face questioning, without words, why. But get up he did. Trish, in a very quite voice said we had to get a temporary replacement for J J’s secretary, Lynn. Now it was my turn to have a questioning look on my face. Trish didn’t answer my direct question of “Why?” but said it was a temporary thing and laid a few applications she’d picked out in front of me. Reviewing applications, at that point in time, was not what I wanted to do and told her I’d get to them before leaving for the day. She wasn’t happy with that but as she stood up Joanie called to her. I watched as she walked over to the entry gate to the platform and saw a very cute young woman standing there.

Right from the time I got involved with the personnel function at the bank I’d had Trish make sure that everyone who walked in the door looking for a job filled out an application. Then, if I had a bit of free time I’d do a quick interview with that person. The reason… I wanted to put a  ‘code’ on the application for future reference. It was fairly simple… a ‘+’ meant this was someone I’d want to see again. A ‘-‘ meant someone who, if necessary, would be called back for another look. A ‘?’ meant, no way Jose! With time I’d been letting Trish do that preliminary interview. From just looking at this woman I knew I wanted to sneak a peek at her background. Trish ushered her to her desk and I made a point of observing her actions. Actually, it was a good thing as it got my mind off the  ‘beat down’ I’d just taken from Hobie. I made a guess that she was probably around 25 or so and hoped that she had some relevant experience, even if it meant working under the resident “wolf”, J J.

With that thought in mind I grabbed the applications that Trish had given to me and took a quick look at the experience they each had. To fill Lynn’s position, typing was paramount and stenographer’s experience was a plus. None of them had both. Aside from that there was nothing to disqualify any of them as they all had some clerical experience. Looking at the young woman at Trish’s desk again, I liked what I saw. A cute, round face with her brown hair cut to just above her shoulders. In spite of mini skirts that were much in vogue hers was just above her knees. Sitting there I noticed she seemed a bit nervous. She was sitting forward in the side chair and would occasionally ouch forward a little more and then would slide back. When she relaxed and went back she would open her knees up a bit… enough for my heart to flutter a bit… but not enough to see anything. At this point I had to have the patience to wait to look at the application and to talk with Trish.

The first thing Trish said was “definitely NOT for J J…”. I hadn’t even seen the application but I knew what she meant. She and Joanie had had many conversations about her time working under J J and Joanie told her she was “thankful” she’d been “rescued” from the mortgage department. When Trish had shared that information with me it made me feel really good. But, now I wanted to see what experience was on the application. The shock was in seeing that she was only 20 and her experience was minimal. Trish did say that she wished we had something for her as she had a really nice personality and was willing to try just about anything. After our chat it was time to take a close look at the original applications. By that time my ‘dust up’ with Hobie had faded and I was fully back to work.

To be continued…

Thursday, February 15, 2018

BACK TO REALITY... Same ole, same ole (Part 165e)

BACK TO REALITY… Same ole, same ole (Part 165e)

The morning couldn’t come fast enough. Neither of us slept very much but if there was one good thing it was that Elle was dry when we got up. The first thing I did was to go outside and slip through the opening in the hedge to see if anyone was there to change the locks in the neighboring house. I was relieved to see a familiar face working on the back (kitchen) door. Jonesey was a familiar face around town as a handy-man carpenter. I’d used him a time or two myself. I chatted with him for a minute or two, more or less catching up with him before he asked if I knew why Andy wanted the locks changed. I asked him if he’d been inside and he said he hadn’t. He’d picked the key up at Andy’s office but he wasn’t there to explain. I told him of what I’d seen and how concerned I was about it and how strange it was that there was no signs of a break-in. I was pleased he was there and went back to tell Elle. However, that didn’t satisfy Elle who explained that just the fact that strangers had been in the house had her “uneasy”. I felt the same but didn’t let Elle know and tried to convince her that since it hadn’t been a break-in and that the locks were being changed we would be safe. I had to get to work and reinforced the idea that under no circumstances would whoever it had been would return in daylight.

The only reason I could think of for not remembering that our neighbor to the West, John the farmer, had a brother on the police force. I was at the end of the driveway when it came to me. He lived just down the road and I decided to take a chance and stopped at his house. He wasn’t home as he’d just left for his shift but after explaining why I wanted to see him his wife said she’d have him call me at work. That was reassuring as I hoped he’d be able to keep me posted on what the police would find in their investigation. Ed was his name and he was really was reassuring when he talked with me. He had two kids of his own and fully understood how Elle and I felt. Of course he had no idea of what had transpired as he’d just arrived at the station.We left it that if (and when) he got any information he’d call. I called Elle to tell her and it was the first time since the situation arose that I could her some relief in her voice.

It was hard getting really into things at work. I have no idea what, if anything, I did all day. For sure, I was anxious to get home. I hadn’t heard from Ed which made the day seem even longer. Not wanting to be a pest I decided not to stop at Ed’s house on my way home. He’d told me he’d call when he had anything of interest so when I drove up the driveway to see a patrol car parked in front of the garage I was surprised. He’d just arrived and Elle was on the way out the kitchen door as I stopped my car. He was still behind the steering wheel and writing when I got to his window. He looked up at me and with a smile said they had identified two men who’d been in the house. The reason for the smile was that the men were migrant farm workers who had worked for his brother on the farm that surrounded both my house and the neighboring house and he actually was familiar with them. That was all well and good but what I wanted to know was how did they get into the house. That was information that he didn’t have but he assured both Elle and I that we didn’t have to worry about them. Elle and I both thanked Ed and as he headed down the driveway I still couldn’t believe that I’d not thought of him the night before.

For some reason I felt like celebrating. However, it was too late to get a baby sitter and Elle had supper almost ready to serve. When we finished I suggested we all go the the local Dairy Queen. It had been quite a while since we’d been there and, in a small way, it served as a celebration. Being that it was now the middle of September, there was a definite briskness in the air as the sun went down. One of the treats for me in going to DQ had been to observe the girls who’d worked there during the Summer. The uniforms included short skirts and on a few occasions I’d managed to get a peek. But, the only female on duty this evening was the wife of the owner. She was a good looking woman, a few years older than Elle and I, but she wasn’t into short skirts. I’d known her husband from when I was a teen when he worked at the marina located in the creek where “Big B” kept his boat. I wasn’t into soft ice cream so filled the time talking with him. I’d not planned it but where I ended up standing gave me an observation point where I could see his wife replenishing various components. To do it, she would squat down to pull boxes from under the counter and rather than stand up to pick them up, would stay on her haunches and tried to kick them to the desired location. Leave it at this… I ended up with multiple split second peeks. Elle and the kids got ice cream and I got something even better.

It was Andy, the real estate agent, who called me at work with the answer as to how the migrants had gotten into the house. I’d asked him if he’d shown the house and he told me that he hadn’t but that a newly hired assistant had. It turned out that the last time he’d been there he lost the set of keys he had but hadn’t told Andy. He took the second set of keys and had another set made up. When Andy told him about someone being in the house he confessed about losing the keys and told him he might’ve lost them while showing the house but swore that he’d locked the door. In telling me this Andy told me he was making the guy pay for the new locks. I think my thoughts at the time was that he should’ve been fired.

There were still two unanswered questions… where did the men find the keys and why were they in the house at all. To put this thread to bed I’ll jump ahead to the following weekend. It was Ed who had the answers and he stopped by the house to tell me. His brother (John, the farmer) would hire a group of migrant farm workers to harvest his potato crop each Fall. He provided them with a bunk house complete with a kitchen. But, he had one major rule… no drinking in the bunk house. These two ignored it and ended up getting fired. They got paid for the time they’d worked and they promptly went out and spent it all on wine. Our house and the neighbor’s house was located right across the farm field from the bunk house so, on that night it had rained and they walked across the field trying to find a place to sleep. They claimed they tried the doors and found the keys on the porch. They actually had slept in the house a number of nights. The only thing the police could put on them was trespassing. Ed told me that his brother bought the men train tickets and made sure they got on the train. That was the best news and it was what Elle wanted to hear. It certainly was an interesting period of time for us.

To be continued…

Monday, February 12, 2018

BACK TO REALITY... Same ole, same ole (Part 165d)

BACK TO REALITY… Same ole same ole (Part 165d)

I hadn’t been to the city since I’d gone in to meet with Morris the first time. I had to be at the association headquarters by 9:30am and taking public transportation made it ‘dicey’. I wanted to make a good impression by not being late so asked if I could go in the night before and stay in a hotel. I got a quizzical look when I asked but Hobie agreed that for the first meeting I should be there well before it started. That meant bringing my clothes for the Thursday meeting with me to work on Wednesday. It was somewhat of a pain but I managed. The hotel I chose was within walking distance of the headquarters so in the morning of the meeting I was there in plenty of time. I was more than pleased to see a familiar face in front of the coffee urn. It was the woman who’d helped me set up my hospitalization records when I’d first started at the bank. Stunning red hair and a statuesque figure, she stood out in a crowd. I chatted with her for a few minutes and before I knew it there were at least a dozen others there. Most of them called her “Red”. It was obvious she had a way about her that made her a favorite to work with. By the time the meeting was convened I’d touched base with a few others I’d had dealings with at the same time I’d met Red. It made the situation a bit more comfortable.

The make-up of the committee of sixteen was almost all male with only two women listed as members. Only one of the two was there, an attractive but very businesslike 40 something lady who wanted to be called by her given name, Patricia. She was an officer in one of the big city banks. At the first break she made an effort to meet men which was appreciated. After a casual chat over coffee she handed me her card and told me to give her a call if I needed some direction as to how the committee operated. She looked around as she told me not to be intimidated by some of what I might hear during the rest of the meeting. I was impressed that she’d singled me out with those words of warning. At lunch I was able to connect with some other members who represented banks similar in size to my bank. As they say, ‘safety in numbers’. We exchanged business cards and by the time the meeting reconvened I was feeling a bit more comfortable. All the members were given a draft of the new “Mission Statement” and told to look it over and forward comments to the Chairman by the end of the month. We were also given a list of topics that the committee would be addressing over the next few months and told to be prepared to be called on for comments. I’m smiling as I write this because I remember walking out of the room and thinking I was back in school and had homework. All in all I was looking forward to being a part of the group but, in looking at the material I’d been given, wondered how I’d fit it in with all I had to do at the bank. On the train I got to look over the schedule and saw that the committee met monthly and two of the meetings were not in the city but were held in smaller cities. I liked the idea where I’d get to go different places.  Another thought I had was that this was the second trip to the city that I’d made and not had the time to stop at either Macys or Gimbels to peruse the lingerie department. But, now the committee assignment with monthly meetings meant I’d soon be able to get there.

Upon arriving home I found Elle was quite upset. The police had stopped in that day to ask if she’d seen any unusual activity at the house next door. She told me she asked why they wanted to know but didn’t get an answer. That bothered her. Even before changing my clothes or eating I called Andy, the young real estate agent who had the house listed, to see if he knew anything. Since his sign was out front my thought process led me to believe they’d checked with him. He knew nothing about it and, not surprisingly, was concerned. He said he’d come right out and I asked if I could go with him. I still don’t know why I did but he arrived about ten minutes later and the two of us walked around the house. Because of the previous incident where a window had been left open we checked all the windows. Once inside we were both shocked. It was obvious that there had been people inside. There were food wrappers on the kitchen floor and empty wine bottles in the sink. When we checked the bathroom it was a disgusting mess. There was puke on the sink and toilet and a pair of soiled men’s briefs in the toilet. Andy was very upset and, since we came in trough the kitchen door (which was locked) he went to the from door and found it was also locked. I still couldn’t get it out of my mind that the police wouldn’t ell Elle why they were investigating the house. I invited Andy to come over so he could call them to get a definitive answer and to also report the obvious trespass.

Walking through the opening in the hedge to get to my house I asked if he’d shown the house recently. He said he hadn’t but he’d recently hired an assistant and he’d shown it a couple of times. To make conversation I asked if he’d gotten any feedback. I remember him laughing when he said at the price it was being offered at it would never sell. The only thing he was able to get from the police on the call was that they’d send a car out to take a report. I was sorry I’d not been able to let Elle know about the call. In listening to Andy talking with the police I could see she was getting more upset. She called me outside to ask what we’d found in the house. I couldn’t lie and when I told her it was obvious there had been people inside she grabbed my arm and said she was scared. I didn’t know what to do except to say we’d have to wait for the Police.

When the patrol car arrived I wasn’t allowed to go with the patrolman and Andy as they went back to the house which was upsetting to me. The one good thing was that the  patrol car had pulled up my driveway which, in my mind, gave me a chance to ask what we (Elle and I) should do to be safe. When he returned he gave me no real encouragement but did say that there was no sign of a break in and that, in all probability, whoever it was had a key and that Andy was in the process of getting someone to change the locks. Unfortunately, Andy had parked his car over at the house and I didn’t get to see him. As you can imagine the whole situation left Elle and I quite concerned. I tried to ‘camp out’ to see if Andy or whoever he was getting to change the locks returned but to no avail. I wasn’t happy about it but tried to take a pragmatic approach in thinking that whoever had done it knew the police were now involved and wouldn’t be back. However, Elle wasn’t buying it. It made for a long, long night.

To be continued…