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When I dropped out of college to get married everyone told me I would be sorry. They were right. Unfortunately, when you're are twenty years old, excercising your right NOT to take good advice is consistant with the stupidity of youth and a total lack of common sense.
Within nine months I was divorced, no job, botched education and living back home with my mother. It was like a bad dream... stuck in a little one horse town, a place I swore I would leave the day I became an adult. Suddenly I found myself confined here with no way out.
I would get extremely depressed when I thought about my high school days, the popularity I experienced, the self esteem I felt. My friends were absolutely sure I would be the one who would escape this boring rural community and be successful in my endeavors. I now felt I was a total failure.
My mother became worried... finally asking Mr Lewis, the local owner of the only bank in the county, to give me a job. Being a friend of the family for years, he actually created a position for me... a charitable act, something he wasn't known for.
The old man liked me for some reason and within three years I was promoted to Head Cashier, a prestigious position for a woman in such a small rural community. He even paid me more than anyone else in the bank, more than employee's who had been with him for years and years.
I became comfortable... the best way to describe my life I guess... buying a small home and resigning myself to the fact that I was never leaving the town where I was born. I slowly became like my mother... hating change, thinking television had become to risque, conservative both morally and politically.
I still remember the day old Mr Lewis told me he was selling the bank. I was depressed for days. I knew he didn't have a choice, the big banks in Chicago had extended their competitive tentacles and our bank just couldn't compete with them any more.
The last day Mr Lewis worked he told me the bank was becoming a branch of First National of Chicago. He said they were sending a Manager from their home office... a Mr Tony Gabriel, but he didn't know when he would arrive. I remember thinking how I would probably hate the guy... some big city "know it all" who wouldn't know a thing about my community and probably wouldn't care to know. Just a stop off point for his "upward mobility" career within the huge corporation.
I'm sure it sounds like my life had become a boring existence but, believe it or not, I actually became quite happy with the simplicity of small town living. That's why I was sad, and fearful, that everything would change when the new manager arrived.
Working for the only Financial Institution in a rural area can be fulfilling for a young woman like myself. Banking emits the aura of respectability and class, especially if you have ranking in the bank like I did.as Head Cashier. Mr Lewis had abdicated his role as the social conscious of the bank sometime ago. He chose me to be the bank's representative within the community, allowing me ample time to be active in the Chamber of Commerce and other civic organizations. These extracurricular activities were the sum total of my social life. I was sure the new manager would take over these functions... performing civic duties always looks good on a resume' or personell file.
I remember the day I returned from lunch, my weekly Chamber of Commerce meeting. Marcia, one of my tellers, met me at the door.
"The new manager is here," she whispered. "And you're not going to believe it. Tony is a woman! Toni. Get it?"
"What," I blurted out. "He's a woman? Wow, we didn't see that coming did we?"
As I hurried to my desk, Marcia followed on my heels. "She wants to see you immediately," Marcia said nervously. "She knew your name and everything. You had better get in to her office."
I deposited my purse in my desk drawer and headed for the new manager's office.
Marcia called out to me, "Kathy, wait a minute. I have to tell you something else before you go in."
"What is it Marcia?" I snapped. I was on edge anyway, and Marcia was beginning to bug me.
"She promoted me to Head Cashier," Marcia blubbered out. "She told me I now had your job."
I stopped in my tracks. "What?" I murmured. "She did what?"
Marcia repeated herself.
"Did she say anything else," I asked hesitantly. "Did she say what I would by doing."
"No she didn't Kathy. I'm sorry. That's all she told me."
My heart began to pound. The first thought that came to my mind... they're going to fire me to cut cost. I would be the most obvious choice... I knew I was over paid.
Suddenly I felt totally disheartened. Where would I work in this one horse town now. There was nothing that I would qualify for that could ever afford me the status and money that this job did. I was scared.
"Come in," I heard a firm female voice say...
As I walked into her office my plight left my mind for a moment. I was temporarily stunned by her appearance. She was definitely a city girl, and so young... so beautiful. She was impeccably dressed... not the kind of clothes you could buy around here. I suddenly felt clumsy and ugly... classless.
Her voice startled me. "Have a seat Kathy," she politely ordered while pointing to a chair in front of her desk. "You look like your picture."
She noticed my puzzlement. "Did you forget about the photographer we sent here three months ago? You know, he came here to take pictures of the bank."
"Oh, yes, I remember," I said smilingly. " But, I don't recall him taking pictures of me!"
"Yes, he took several of you at your desk. He not only thought you were very pretty, he thought you were very photogenic. See, you had an admirer and didn't know it."
I forced a smile, not knowing the protocol in this situation.
"I'm sure Marcia has already told you I promoted her to head cashier," she said quietly. "She's a cute little thing, maybe a little young for that position, but my sixth sense tells me she'll do well once she gets the hang of it. Don't you agree?"
"What about me?" my voice barely audible. "Am I fired?"
"Fired?" she laughed. "Of course not. Is that why your so tense? You look like a frightened little school girl. No, your not fired. I'm promoting you to my personal assistant."
I felt a surge of relief flow over me. She was speaking again.
"What? I'm sorry. I didn't hear what you said."
"I said my information shows you're now making $25,000 a year... right."
"Yes," I said. "The previous owner was very generous."
"Well," Miss Gabriel said. "How does $50,000 a year sound?"
I was stunned. $50,000 dollars! I had lived very comfortably on my present salary. Double it! I didn't know what to say.
"Is there a problem?" Miss Gabriel asked.
"No... no, there's no problem," I said. "But that's a lot of money. Am I qualified for the job you're suggesting? You could have your choice of anyone for that salary."
"I realize that Kathy. But I want you... and yes, your qualified. There is one thing that I expect, however, and that's your full obedience... doing exactly what I order you to do, no questions asked. Some of your duties will appear to be non bank related but I expect your full acceptance in performing these duties as they arise."
I barely heard her mention her expectations... her requirements. I was still thinking of the large salary.
"Can you live with those guidelines Kathy?" her voice asked firmly.
"Oh yesss, I can do that Miss Gabriel. Anything you ask... I'll try to be the best employee... ever. I'll do my best to be an able assistant."
"Good," she said as she ushered me from her office. "I had maintenance set up a desk in the office next to mine. I want you to have an office of your own because... well occasionally, you may need some privacy. Okay with you?"
"Yes, and thanks again Miss Gabriel."
A private office! I couldn't believe the turn of events. And the money. I wanted to skip to my new office, I could barely contain my happiness.
Miss Gabriel was extremely patient in training me in how she expected things to be done. It was a pleasure working for her. She even allowed me to keep my social contacts with the various business and professional groups in town.
She was a city girl though and spent as much time in Chicago as possible. She rented a small apartment in town, nothing very elaborate, but she drove to Chicago every weekend... sometimes not returning till Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week. She often spoke of the beautiful condo she owned in the city... I was quite sure she expected to transfer back there someday.
One day she called me in to her office to discuss, of all things, my wardrobe. She wasn't very kind with her assessment of my clothes and suggested I do something about it. Later that day she called me in again.
"Listen Kathy, I don't think you can find locally the type of clothes I suggested you wear. I have an idea. Why don't you come to Chicago with me this weekend... no, we won't even wait for the weekend. We'll leave Friday morning, shop Friday afternoon and all day Saturday. How does that sound?"
It sounded exciting and I told her so. I hadn't been to Chicago in ages. With my new salary I could afford to shop in some of the more expensive stores she had suggested.
.... There is more of this story ...