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, pretending not to have heard her remark.
“Most definitely,” she answers smiling in anticipation of the 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 thought 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 she have a seat, and then ask 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 said, “I guarantee my work.” I sat in silence, not knowing what to say next. Never before have I been at a loss for words; that is usually a fault of the interviewees. I only asked her one question. From the very moment she makes her presence known to me, she begins to demonstrate all the qualities I am looking for. “Margo, you have my curiosity stirred. 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. Nevertheless if you find one and prove me wrong, I guarantee I will fix it.”
I hire her. Because she is so confident her work is error free, I begin to scrutinize it, looking for that one fatal error. A year passes; no errors ever surface. I become lax and stop looking. “Perhaps it is possible for someone to do their work error free,” I thought. I felt confident I could trust and rely on Margo to follow procedures without me constantly looking over her shoulders.
I am called out of the bank for a few days on business. 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 I am in the vault, I notice there is a stack of $100 dollar bills segregated from the other bills. I ask, “Why are these bills segregated from the other bills?”
The vault teller replies, “Margo asked that they be placed in the vault, separate from the other bills, until you return. She said, ‘ 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 accepted them as legal tender, I fear we are now going to be faced with an operating loss. Never had we taken an operating loss for accepting counterfeit bills. I thought 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 knew procedures. Ignorance is definitely not the reason. “Why didn’t she follow procedures?” This whole thing didn’t make sense. I approach Margo asking, “Why?” “Why?” “Why?”
“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 had happened, beg their forgiveness, and make plans to entrap this mystery man if by chance he attempts to do it again. Margo shared with me his statement that he would be back to open another account when his certificate at another bank matures. The F.B.I. gives me instructions. I need to fill Margo in. But because of the frantic hassle and the circumstances, precious time slips away and so does 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 do arrive, Margo meets me at the door. “It’s fixed,” she says.
“What’s fixed?” I inquire.
“My error,” she stammers with excitement, “I told you: ‘ I guarantee my work.'”
What had she done? My mind could not conceive how she could correct such an error. “Margo,” I say in a calm, reassuring voice, “Face it, your error is not fixable. It cannot erase as if it is chalk on a chalkboard.”
“But it has,” 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 gave him–I give him his counterfeit bills.”
“Oh no,” I exclaim, “Now the error is mine!”