by Trudy A. Martinez
“I am here,” a young woman announced as she tapped lightly on the counter to gain my attention. Then she leaned over the counter, smiled, and whispered, “You can tell everyone else to go home–the job is mine.”
“Do you have an appointment?” I asked abruptly while pretending to have not heard her last remark.
“Most definitely,” she answered smiling in anticipation my next question. She began to introduce herself: “My name is Margo–.” Before she could finish speaking her finger was on my clipboard, pointing to her name. “There’s my name right at the top of your list–,” she hesitated and then added, “–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 called her into the conference room, requested that she have a seat, and then asked her point-blank, “Why do you think you are the best choice for the open position here at the bank?”
She smiled and quickly exclaimed, “I guarantee my work!”
“I guarantee my work,” she repeated.
I could hardly believe my ears she had said she guaranteed her work. I sat in silence, not knowing what to say next. Never had I been at a loss for words before that was usually a fault of the interviewees. I had only asked her one question; but yet from the very moment she made her presence known to me, she began to demonstrate all the qualities I was looking for. “Margo, you have my curiosity stirred. What do you mean by your statement: ‘ I guarantee my work?'”
“Curiosity killed the cat,” she replied. “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 hired her. But because she was so confident that her work was error less, I began to scrutinize it, looking for that one fatal error. A year passed; no errors ever surfaced. I became lax and stopped looking. “Perhaps it is possible for someone to do their work errorless,” I thought. I felt confident that Margo could be trusted and relied on to follow procedures without me looking over her shoulders.
Then I was called out of the bank for a few days on business. When I returned, the vault teller requested that I enter the vault with her to prepare and fill an order of cash for a merchant. I did. While I was in the vault, I noticed that there was a stack of $100 dollar bills segregated from the other bills. I asked, “Why are these bills segregated from the other bills?”
The vault teller replied, “Margo asked that they be placed in the vault, separate from the other bills, until you returned. She said, ‘ They are counterfeit.'”
I asked, “Does she know who passed them?”
“Oh yes, a new account customer opened a time certificate with them.”
I inspected the bills. They were definitely counterfeit. But since an employee of the bank had accepted them as legal tender, I feared we were now going to be faced with an operating loss. Never had I 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 could answer my questions. She knew procedures. Ignorance was definitely not the reason. “Why didn’t she follow procedures?” This whole thing didn’t make sense. I approached Margo and asked, “Why?” “Why?” “Why?”
“The manager told me to wait until you returned.”
“How did the manager get involved with it to begin with?”
“He brought the customer to my desk. I thought he knew him.”
I excused 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 called the “Feds,” explained what had happened, begged their forgiveness, and made plans to entrap this mystery man if by chance he attempted to do it again. Margo had shared with me his statement that he would be back to open another account when his certificate at another bank matured. The F.B.I. gave me instructions. I had to fill Margo in. But because of the frantic hassle and the circumstances, precious time had slipped away and so had Margo–she had left the bank for the day. “Oh well,” I told myself, “Tomorrow is another day.”
The next morning disaster hit. A family emergency occurred delaying my arrival at the bank. When I did arrive, Margo met me at the door. “It’s fixed,” she said.
“What’s fixed?” I inquired.
“My error,” she stammered 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 said in a calm, reassuring voice, “Face it, your error is not fixable. It cannot be erased as if it were chalk on a chalkboard.”
“But it has,” she replied, “In just that way too–like chalk on a chalkboard.” “You see,” she continued, “The man who gave me the counterfeit came back. He said he had an emergency and he needed his money back. So, I gave him–I gave him his counterfeit bills.”
“Oh no,” I exclaimed, “Now the error is mine!”