The following is an edited re-posting of a true story I Posted on April 10, 2008 I am left with guaranteed memories because of it.
By Trudy A. Martinez
“I am here,” a young woman announces as she taps lightly on the counter to gain my attention. Then she leans over the counter, smiles, and whispers, “You can tell everyone else to go home–the job is mine.”
“Do you have an appointment?” I ask abruptly while pretending to have not heard her last remark.
“Most definitely,” she answers smiling in anticipation to my next question. She begins to introduce herself: “My name is Margo–.” Before she finishes speaking her finger is on my clipboard, pointing to her name. “There’s my name right at the top of your list–,” she hesitates and then adds, “–where it belongs.”
I think to myself, “This young lady is certainly self-confident (a main requirement for the position of New Accounts clerk I am interviewing for). But, she appears almost too sure of herself.” I call her into the conference room, request that she take a seat, and then ask her point-blank, “Why do you think you are the best choice for the open position here at the bank?”
She smiles and quickly exclaims, “I guarantee my work!”
“I guarantee my work,” she repeats.
I can hardly believe my ears she says she guarantees her work. I sit in silence, not knowing what to say next. Never had I been at a loss for words before; this is usually a fault of the interviewees. I only ask her one question; but yet from the very moment she makes her presence known to me, she begins to demonstrate all the qualities I am looking for. “Margo, you stir my curiosity. What do you mean by your statement: ‘I guarantee my work’”?
“Curiosity killed the cat,” she replies. “But you need not be curious, my work is accurate; I don’t make errors. But if you find one and prove me wrong, I guarantee I will fix it.”
I hire her. But because she is so overly confident that her work is error free, I begin to scrutinize it, looking for one fatal error. A year passes; no errors surface. I become lax. I stop looking. “Perhaps it is possible for someone to do their work error free,” I think.
I feel confident can trust and rely on Margo to follow procedures without my looking over her shoulders.
Then I went on a business trip for the bank for a few days. When I return, the vault teller requests I enter the vault with her to prepare and fill an order of cash for a merchant. I did. While there in the vault, I notice there is a stack of $100 dollar bills segregated from the others. I ask, “Why are these bills here separate from the other bills?”
The vault teller replies, “Margo asked that they be kept in the vault, separate from the other bills, until you return. She says: ‘ They are counterfeit.’”
I ask, “Does she know who passed them?”
“Oh yes, a new account customer opened a time certificate with them.”
I inspect the bills. They are definitely counterfeit. But since an employee of the bank accepts them as legal tender, I fear we are now faced with an operating loss. This is a first. I had never suffered an operating loss for accepting counterfeit bills. I think to myself, “When Margo makes an error, she does it good. Why didn’t she notify the police or the F.B.I.?” Only Margo can answer my questions. She knows procedures. Ignorance is definitely not the reason. “Why didn’t she follow procedures?” This whole thing didn’t make sense.
I approach Margo and ask, “Why?” “Why?” “Why?”
She knew immediately what the one word question meant.
“The manager told me to wait until you return.”
“How did the manager get involved with it to begin with?”
“He brought the customer to my desk. I thought he knew him.”
I excuse myself saying, “I have to make a few calls before 5:00 P.M., I’ll get back to you later concerning this matter.”
Immediately, I call the “Feds,” explain what happened, beg their forgiveness, and make plans to entrap this mystery man if by chance he attempts to do it again.
Margo had shared with me his statement: “ I will be back to open another account when my certificate at another bank matures. That’s a promise.”
The F.B.I. gave me instructions. I had to fill Margo in. But because of the frantic hassle and the circumstances, precious time slips away and so did Margo–she left the bank for the day. “Oh well,” I tell myself, “Tomorrow is another day.”
The next morning disaster hit. A family emergency occurs delaying my arrival at the bank.
When I did arrive, Margo met me at the door. “It’s fixed,” she exclaims!
“What’s fixed?” I inquire.
“My error,” she stammers with excitement, “I told you: ‘I guarantee my work.’”
What had she done? My mind cannot conceive how she can correct such an error.
“Margo,” I say in a calm reassuring voice, “Face it, your error is not fixable. It cannot be erased as if it is chalk on a chalkboard.”
“But it is,” she replies, “In just that way too–like chalk on a chalkboard.” “You see,” she continues, “The man who gave me the counterfeit came back.”
He said: “I have an emergency. I need my money back.”
“So, I give him–I give him just what he asks for. I give him his money back — his counterfeit bills.”