By Trudy A. Martinez
When I first met Margie Schafer, I would not have dreamed she would create memories I would cherish, relive in thought, and share with others. Margie is the age of my oldest daughter, half my age and just beginning life as an adult, yet mature beyond her years. She applied for a position at the bank where I was employed as an Assistant Vice President in charge of operations. When I interview her for a position with the bank, her openness and sincerity impresses me. But it was the statement “I guarantee my work,” that sways me.
She guarantees her work; this I have to see for myself. Few employees acknowledge mistakes or take responsibility for their actions without becoming defensive. I could recall none who took pleasure in correcting their errors or who would even allude to guaranteeing their work. Needless to say, Margie is hired.
Margie is unbelievable; a supervisor’s “dream employee.” She learns fast, completes her assignments quickly, and requests additional duties without hesitation. Day after day she reminds me: “I guarantee my work.” It became an obsession with me to find an error; I began to scrutinize her work, all to no avail.
Margie trains and cross-trains on most areas of operation; she is capable of performing the majority of my own duties adequately. To the extent she is trained, her sense of judgment is excellent. Unfortunately in my absence, she isn’t authorized to act as an officer of the bank in those areas of concern.
When I am required to travel out-of-town on bank business, the manager takes on my responsibilities; even so, I never know what to expect upon return.
Once, Margie was directed to open a new business account; the manager delivers the customer to the New Accounts desk for Margie to assist him in deciding all the necessities. Margie does as he directs without question.
Approximately four (4) months later, the FBI and one of the top echelons from the local base come into the bank to inquire about a fraudulent transaction paid through the bank. They give photocopies of the instruments in question. This is strange; I don’t recognize the name on this account. Yet, I review all the new accounts opened on a daily and weekly basis. I excuse myself to research the mystery. The account signature card reveals Margie opened the account, my signature of review is not present. No wonder I couldn’t remember the account. I thought to myself, “Margie has made a mistake!” Documentation required to open the account was missing: I wonder how she is going to guarantee this error? I walk over to discuss the account with her; I show her the check. I am still thinking to myself, “Boy, when this girl makes a mistake, she does it ‘BIG’ Why else would the pleasure of not only the FBI’s company but also that of the top echelon of the base be given me?”
Margie inspects the instruments I give her to prompt her memory. She retrieves the missing documentation and shows me where she had had the manager review and approve the account. Margie practices “CYA”: cover your actions. I thought Margie was going to be given the purple heart by the Federal Officials right there in the lobby when she accompanies me to my desk. I had to practically chase the officials out of the bank to prevent them from stealing my employee. Margie had over documented. She could have written a book with the documentation she collected. Since Margie requires the customer to go to the county building, purchase a fictitious business name for a sole proprietorship, affix his thumb print to a 3 x 5 card, and so on (all of which were not required), she prevents the bank from suffering a huge loss and provides the Federal officials with proof of the identity of this devious character.
Another time when I had gone out-of town on a business trip, I return to find a stack of counterfeit currency in the vault, segregated from the rest of the currency. A Time Certificate is opened using them. Margie suspects the currency of being counterfeit, but she doesn’t know what to do, so she asks the manager; he tells her to put them in the vault until I return. “Margie makes a mistake?” A nightmare of embarrassment ensues. I contact the “Feds,” explain the situation, and beg their forgiveness; they instruct me how to proceed. The next morning I have a business appointment. I neglect sharing with anyone how we are to proceed under the circumstances. Margie has not been trained on the handling of counterfeit currency.
In my absence, the same man returns to redeem the certificate he opened. Margie tells him of the interest forfeiture for early withdrawal. She calculates the interest, informs the man of the amount, excuses herself with the narration she does not have sufficient funds and needs to requisition an adequate amount. She proceeds to the vault area, has the vault teller activate the cameras documenting the transaction, and then with the vault teller continues to the vault. The currency retrieved is the counterfeit, the same counterfeit the man had given her the day before. Margie gives the crook back the counterfeit!
When I return that day and discover what has transpired, I nearly have a heart attack. The “Feds” are surely going to crucify me for this one. “Was this the way she guarantees her work?” I was supposed to transfer the counterfeit to the “Feds,” have a general staff meeting to alert all employees of this devious character, and to work in conjunction with the “Feds” towards his apprehension. There is no chance; the swindler will ever return again now, not since my ingenious subordinate has reversed the circumstances. Margie had said, “I guarantee my work.” When she corrected her initial error of accepting the counterfeit currency by returning it to its rightful owner, the crook, she guaranteed her work; there was no error left for her to correct. The only error left was mine as a result of not informing anyone of my discussion with the “Feds” and thereby begetting happenings I will never forget.
As a reward for hiring Margie, I was given a life time of guaranteed memories I will recall, cherish, and share with others. Margie had guided me through a series of inconceivable, innovative escapades that continually brings about a smile on my face when I venture to recall her statement, “I guarantee my work.”