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There’s an Essay in There Somewhere

by Gene Miller


I never thought of writing essays until John asked me to think about it.  I’ve written a few for oldartguy.com, and as John promised, I’ve enjoyed writing them.

It seems sometimes that life is like a series of essays. One essay comes after another, some long, some short.  Last week it was one thing, this week, something else.  It makes me think that one of the pleasures of getting older is the ability to pause and consider each one, sharing some, shelving the others. 

Odd and interesting things have happened throughout my life.  Actually they happen all the time. I just didn't have the time to think about them in the past. I certainly didn't have time to write them down. Usually, I just said or thought, "@#&*#," and went on with my life.

I owned a printing shop for many years. I remember that I had a printing press operator whose name was Roxanne.  Most press operators were men. Roxanne was a "manly" young woman. She wore her hair pulled back in a pony tail, used no makeup and favored plaid flannel shirts. Roxanne wore straight cut wrangler work jeans and comfortable work boots.  Roxanne was an excellent printer.

My office manager's name was Julie.  She was about the same age as Roxanne and was newly married to Jim who worked in an auto parts store nearby.  Julie was attractive but not what you might call pretty. She had longer blond hair and painted nails. Julie usually wore dresses or skirts and always looked nice.  Julie was quiet, efficient and an excellent office manager. Julie was also, newly pregnant.

One day as we were closing for the day, Jim walked in. He said," I'm here to pick up Julie from work." My business partner, Bob, said, "Julie already left. Roxanne gave her a ride home."  Jim was quite agitated and said, "Can I talk to you guys? I don't know what to do." We both nodded in the affirmative.  The tears began to flow, and Jim explained, "Roxanne was kicked out of her apartment, and Julie and I have been letting her live in our basement for the last couple of months." Bob nodded, "Hummm." Jim continued, "Look I'm just a country boy from Nebraska, and I don't know about these things... but, sometimes Julie sleeps upstairs with me and sometimes she sleeps downstairs in the basement with Roxanne.”


Bob said, "Hummmm." I said, "@#&*!"  I know there’s an essay in there somewhere.

Over the next few years the print shop grew.  Keeping the finances in order was more complicated.  Bob and I hired an actual bookkeeper. Carolyn was her name. She had many years’ experience and her husband was a CPA. She was an older woman who was supporting her daughter in a very expensive California College. She had lots of experience, but sadly, the last two employers had gone out of business, and she was out of work when we hired her.

Several months later, the office phone rang and an official sounding woman said, " May I speak to the owner or manager?" I said," I'm one of the owners; how can I help you?" She said, "Do you have a Carolyn working for you?" I said, "Yes, but she called in sick today." The woman then identified herself as being an officer with the District Attorney's office.  She said, "Are you aware that Carolyn was sentenced to seven years in prison for embezzlement this morning?" I said, "Tell me more."  About that time, Bob walked in.  I hung up the phone and said, "Carolyn did not come in this morning because she was in court. She was sentenced to seven years in prison for embezzlement. The district attorney's office is pissed because the judge ordered her to serve six months in a halfway house and the rest of the time on probation. This was after she put two previous employers out of business to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. They want us to let them know how much she got from us so that they can put her away for good.  And by the way, her CPA husband is  already in prison for embezzlement."


Bob said, "Hummmm." I said, "@#&*."


Yep, I know there's an essay in there somewhere.