“Dude, are you ready for this?” Andy asked as we filed into the auditorium for the SAT’s.
“I think so man.” I held up the vial.
“Truth serum, or it was truth serum anyway. You know the chemistry teacher, Miss Chapman?”
“Yeah, I know her.” Andy said, “She’s kinda cute for an old lady. She’s gotta be what? Thirty or thirty-one?”
“She’s been dating my uncle. Anyway last night she agreed to take a dose of this truth serum, they were playing some kind of game like truth-or-dare or sumpthin’. I really don’t want to know the details of that.”
“So? Whaddaya mean so? Think about it dude. This stuff lasts for 12 hours. It’s eight o’clock in the morning and she took it at 12. She’s gotta tell the truth for another four hours or so.”
“She’s the proctor for the test this morning! I’m thinkin’ Ivy League baby! I’m so gonna ace these SAT’s.”
Esteban planted his butt on the wooden floor and leaned against the front of the settee. It was a rainy Saturday morning and his brother and sister were in the other room watching cartoons on TV but he had something better to do.
He opened the book and began to read, “It was a dark and stormy night…” Soon he was lost in another world. He was joining Meg, Charles, and Calvin as they were being transported through the universe on the tesseract. Suddenly he was jolted back to his mother’s parlor floor.
“There you are, Esteban.” his mother interrupted, “What are you doing, hiding in here? Get up and get outside to play. It’s a beautiful afternoon”
“It’s raining, Mom.”
“The rain quit over an hour ago. Go on, get outside. Take your brother and go find Guillermo. Play some ball, ride your bikes, go to the park.”
He tucked his book into his hip pocket and headed to the back door. “Yes ma’am.”
Ricardo and Ana had shovels. They were digging a large hole behind the garage and both were covered in mud from the rain. He shook his head and walked past them, ignoring their pleas for him to help dig.
Esteban knew from experience that it is hard to ride a bicycle when you have a pocket filled with adventure and imagination so he walked to the corner. As soon as his house was out of sight he pulled the book from his pocket and read all the way to the park.
In the span of a breath, everything changed. It was a rattling breath, a final breath. It was drawn in September 1874. It was the last painful breath of Catherine McCarty, wife of William Antrim, and loving mother of William Henry and Joseph McCarty. It was drawn in Silver City, New Mexico where she was living when she finally lost her long battle with tuberculosis.
Shortly after their mother’s death, William Antrim placed his stepsons in foster homes. He was a miner and a matter-of-fact man. There were no excuses, or emotions associated with this development. It was simply the way things had to be. The boys, at fourteen and eleven, were too young to go into the hills mining with their stepfather. Their mother’s death was pivotal for her sons. The good people of Silver City said they had been well behaved, educated young men. They were friendly and outgoing with generous personalities, just like their mother.
Billy, the older boy was placed with the Truesdell family, owners of the hotel. He worked for his keep and by all accounts comported himself well. Eventually, he set off from Silver City and achieved some level of notoriety through his participation as a Regulator in the Range Wars of Lincoln County, where he was shot dead.
Young Josie went to the Dyers. They were saloon owners and Joe also worked. Although the nature of his work was decidedly different from that of his brother – he grew up rough and he grew up fast. He drank, he fought, he smoked a bit of opium, and he gambled.
The high deserts of New Mexico did not interest Joe McCarty. The grazing lands, where grasses thrived while the trees were twisted and beaten down by the winds, offered nothing that he cared to embrace so he took up the life of a gambler; oscillating between New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado. In 1882 or maybe ‘83 Joe found himself in Tucson where his luck had been good. Riding a wave of good fortune, he married a bordello girl, Rose Marie Perkins, who went by the name of Amber Annie. She refused to settle down to domestic life and Joe would often find himself sitting at the gaming tables downstairs while his wife worked the bedrooms upstairs. Their union did not last long and the emotional toll served only to embitter and further harden young Joe. He left his wife and went back to Denver where he pieced together a living as a gambler.
Joe spent the rest of his life alone in Denver. A pauper’s life; he slept on the streets or, when his luck was good, he would take a room in one of the boarding houses that fringed the downtown area. He died penniless in 1930 at the age of 67 and was buried in an unmarked grave at the expense of the state. No records exist to pinpoint the exact location of his interment.
There were no children. Catherine McCarty had been dead since 1874. No records exist to identify the biological father of her sons, not even his name is known. Joe’s older brother, Billy, had been killed in 1881, also childless. His stepfather, William Antrim had disappeared into the mountains around Silver City about the same time that Joe went to Tucson. His fate was unknown. When Joe McCarty died that branch of the McCarty family tree died with him.
I need to tack on a note that while the McCarty family was real, this story is fiction. Details described herein are primarily the product of my imagination. Please do not use anything written here as reference material for your history report. Thanks.
The rattan rocking chair had been on that porch for as long as he could remember. It had always been the perch for the Matriarch of the family. The men had sturdier chairs that came and went but the delicate rattan rocker somehow seemed to last forever and no one else ever sat in it.
Tony remembered his grandmother sitting in that chair. She would keep her knitting basket by her side as she moved gently to and fro. When Grandma passed his mother took it over. She would sit there every evening and most Sunday mornings as well.
Her evening sits were her way of staying in touch with the neighborhood. Watching the comings and goings of the people on the street. Sunday mornings were breakfast. Mom would sit in the rocker with a waffle iron on the table beside her. Everyone who passed by was invited up for coffee and waffles. When Dad died, the Sunday morning waffle feasts sort of dwindled away, but the evening sits carried on. Now that Mom was gone there was no Matriarch. The rattan rocker just sat, unoccupied. Occasionally a breeze would start it to rocking. If he happened to be having a cigarette on the steps he would turn his head, hoping to see his mom again but she was never there.
Tony had briefly considered the possibility of taking a wife. He imagined that if he married it would bring life back to the house, back to the porch and he would be able to once again hear the familiar squeak of the rocker. He quickly discarded that idea though. A rocking chair was no reason to get married, no reason at all.
Tony reflected on all these things as he lifted the chair from the back of his truck and handed it to the volunteer at the Goodwill donation station.
“Beautiful chair,” said the man with the blue overalls, “let me get you a receipt.”
“I don’t need a receipt.” Tony told him as he closed his tailgate and walked back up towards the truck cab. He slid behind the wheel and dried his eyes. It’s just a chair he thought to himself as he started the engine and pulled out into traffic. Time is up. Put down your writing implements and step away from the paper.
I hope this brief message finds you well and that you take the time to read it. I have been a customer of The Bank for many years but I find myself thinking about leaving. My level of frustration with your organization continues to grow, primarily as a result of your customer service and employee retention policies. I recognize that these are a means to increase revenue but I find them frustrating and short sighted. I will enumerate just a few examples.
Greeters at the door. If you are going to have a greeter positioned at the door saying, “Welcome in,” there should not be a line to speak with a teller. This is poor allocation of resources and costs both you and me money. Please let the greeters work at Walmart. I prefer to work with banking professionals when I visit The Bank and do not mind waiting to exchange greetings with the teller who is assisting me.
Don’t give scripts to your employees. It turns them into automatons and the words, spoken by both the teller and by me become meaningless to them, background noise, and static. “In an effort to do things right the first time which account would you like this deposit in?” and “In order to ensure superior customer service is there anything else I can do for you today?” and “On the pin pad please choose the method with which you would like to receive your receipt.”
Despite having the desired account marked on the deposit slip and replying to the teller when asked, my funds have wound up in the wrong account on more than one occasion. He wasn’t listening.
“Superior customer service?” Come on. No one talks like that. With the exception of all the young employees in your branches – they all speak like that. I can only surmise that this is because they are told to.
I appreciate the automation you are using in an attempt to streamline a transaction but, when the teller has to instruct 8 out of 10 customers that they need to push another button on the pin pad and the customer then has to peruse the choices prior to selection, the flow of the transaction is interrupted and you have provided a stumbling block instead of a timesaver.
Invest in your employees. I notice a high turnover of young employees in the branches that I visit regularly. There will often be four tellers in the windows and three of them have another employee looking over their shoulders. I appreciate training but if 75% of your customer service staff is perpetually in training then your turnover is too high. Are these kids on the fast-track to management positions? Are they moving up? Are they leaving for better paying jobs at Kroger or CVS? Spend more time training them, pay them a bit more, show them a path for advancement. Most importantly, empower them to speak for themselves and to represent The Bank in a professional manner. You will, in this way cultivate loyalty and long term employees who know how to comport themselves professionally and deal with the public. These are the employees who will become long term assets to The Bank, not just short term disposables.
In summary, what I am saying is that I would appreciate being treated like a valued customer of The Bank. I would appreciate interacting with professional bankers, not employees who I will seldom see more than two or three times before they are gone to a higher paying, more satisfying position at The Shoe Barn.
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