My mother’s office voicemail makes her sound like she is a deeply religious person.
It goes something like this:
You have reached the desk of Julie Susman. She is not here right now, but if you’d like to leave a message, please do so after the beep. If you need to reach her immediately, please dial “zero” and ask for grace.
Okay, fine, “Grace,” with a capital “G.”
My mother’s assistant’s name is Grace.
How cool is that? Her voicemail gives people the option of pushing a button and asking for grace, which is another word for forgiveness, mercy, and God’s love. And, you know… a kind, older woman who has excellent secretarial skills.
Grace has been with my mother for years and years. She helps my mother with personal and business tasks, and she does so with skill, tact, and – uh – grace.
When I helped my husband hire an assistant two years ago, I wanted him to find his own version of grace. I mean – uh, Grace.
After interviewing friends and Craig’s List candidates for the job, I focused in on one young woman in particular, Roxana Martinez. She was eager, bright, quick… she spoke Spanish, which was a plus since many of my husband’s workers/subs speak Spanish (he is a general contractor), and my husband only speaks HebrengliSpanish (speaking English in a Spanish accent is about as close he gets to speaking Spanish).
My husband’s office is in our detached converted garage, so Roxana spent one year working for us in our house. It was great to have her there, supporting the business while my husband was busy juggling three, sometimes four major clients and I was dealing with the pregnancy and then birth & health complications after birth of my third child. Roxana did bookkeeping, assisted my husband, played with our kids, took classes at The Kabbalah Centre, and, in general, got to know us – our home, our family, and of course, our business…
…and then I found out she had been stealing from us. The entire year she worked for us, she had been stealing from us. She forged checks, totaling over $30,000. She made tens of thousands of dollars worth of fraudulent credit card transactions. She had let our bills go into collections, paying them with hundreds of dollars of late fees at the last possible minute – all the while, hiding everything from us, lying about everything, covering her tracks in Quickbooks with false entries and lies.
She has plead “no contest” and will be going to jail shortly, I’m told. She will owe us restitution, though only around $40,000, which is nothing compared to what she took from us. She nearly caused our business to tank.
And then there was our nanny of four years, who was like family to me and my kids, and who somehow orchestrated a break-in, in our house, when we were out of town. The thieves made off with my jewelry – heirlooms, gifts, diamonds, engagement ring and wedding ring – and my laptop (which she subsequently returned to me). This happened just a couple months after we fired Roxana.
Apparently, I hired Decepto and Destructo to work for our business and our kids.
Why isn’t life ever as simple as dialing zero and asking for grace?
Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)