The Way She Was
By: Bob Isakower
Reprinted from "Sort Stuff" Magazine, Loveland, Colorado (Spring 1997)
She was no good. She was no damn good. And he suspected he knew that from the beginning. He had met her in Detroit while on a business trip. He had a vacancy to be filled and she needed a job. She came very highly recommended, having graduated from a good school with honors and had the diploma to prove it.
They traveled back east together and she started work almost immediately. She was very young and very beautiful. She turned heads wherever they went. Men and women turned and stared at her when they entered a restaurant, store or business establishment. He had to take her around and show her all the places that he went on his rounds, as part of his daily work. She had to learn where these places were and how to get to them. It would be part of her job.
She had a pretty, happy face, a good body and long blonde hair. It was golden, really, with reddish tints that seemed never to be cut. It just flowed and blew all over the place. He worried about her giving breathing problems to some of the old people she would come in contact with. You couldn’t endanger the health of people you had to go see during the day. But those people never seemed to mind. They kept calling her "sweetheart" and patting her. He wasn’t sure he liked that and wondered at the real motivation for his feelings. She had this habit of invading everyone’s private space: coming right up close to the person, man or woman, standing very close, only inches away.
Although she never did an assignment properly, never closed the loop on a job, nobody but he seemed to mind. Unfortunately, for him, he had to do all the critical, finer details in every case. Everybody else said that she was just young and to give her a chance. But, deep down, he knew she would never get any better. She was too easily distracted, especially by the young fellows, "the bums" he called them, who hung out around the railroad station and fooled around all day. She was always looking across the street at them when they got into town and never listened to his repeated instructions about the next visit. He used to tell her; "They’re unskilled labor, but you, you’re a professional."
When he complained about her to his wife, she snorted and told him to get rid of her and find a really good worker, not just a pretty face. When he tried to tell his wife that she just may need more time and patience, she muttered that there was no fool like an old fool. And in his heart he knew she was right.
When he learned that the head of her school was attending a conference in his town, he decided to meet with him to talk about his problems. The headmaster came to the office and talked to his old pupil. He watched her work and accompanied them on the job for a few days. The headmaster finally spoke quietly and sadly to him."It’s a shame," he said. "She was the very best student in the class. But, this is real life. It happens sometimes - they just can’t make it in the real world. She’s not paying attention. She’s too nervous and disorganized. Maybe she just started too young. In any event, you can’t keep her on, you’ll have to let her go. I’ll take her back to Detroit with me to her family, she’ll never be able to keep a job in this field and I don’t want her to end up in the streets."
He told her he was letting her go but it didn’t seem to bother her. The next day the Headmaster came for her at the office where her things were all packed and waiting.
"Come on sweetheart, we’re going home", he said and bent down and snapped the leash on her collar, shook hands with the blind man and led her away to the van.