Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Flawed Legacy - 13

(NOTE:  This is the second "edition" on Thursday and it is the 13th, not because that Friday's would be the 13th, it just happens that I am leaving town for the weekend, as a delegate to my church's yearly convention.  I am looking forward to the experience, just as I hope you are looking forward to future editions of this blog.  And, I am looking forward to your responses as well.)

That stop at an employment agency was very interesting.  First, that the Manager happened to be a man I had met at a Simmons' sales rally and second, that he had something to offer that I needed to consider.

He offered me a position - not a job (he said), as a Counselor reminding me that with all of my Air Force experience in Personnel work, I ought to be a "natural" and their office had lots of "traffic", an essential when it came to this business.  I decided it was better than waking up every morning with a "hang over" and the regret that I was wasting too much of my time.  It was interesting.  The first person I interviewed happened to have the right experience for a job opening we had advertised and by 5PM that day, he was hired.  In the first week, I would "place" 5 applicants and I began to realize, this was more than was expected of me, especially when it came to other "counselors".  There was also a matter of money, of earnings for each placement, and each of the placements I made were of the "applicant pay fee" category and it was the Manager who set the terms.  He was gracious enough to offer me $50 as an advance, pending the full payment of each fee.  Aha, we didn't discuss this at the start.

I made three placements the following week, there was no offer of an advance and so I decided to do some research.  The public library was in the next block and so I spent my weekend there, evaluating my experience against what I was reading about other agencies, all of whom were out of the area.  My third week was a little better, I interviewed a fellow who was willing to pay his fee "up front" and I was fortunate enough to find him a job right away.  I made three other placements that week and again, there was no offer of an advance, except that I collected my portion of the fee that was paid.  Now, I began to here the "chatter" of other counselors and when we had a chance to talk, I learned they were in worse shape that I was.  Most were "earning" about $250/month.

So, I went back to the library, discovered three likely candidates for a job in other cities and wrote each a letter, asking for what they looked for in employees, the wages they paid and the possibility of openings.  I was unable to get stamps on the weekend for my letters, so I brought them with me to the office, expecting to mail them at lunch time.  Instead, I was invited to lunch with the manager and when we came back to the office, I was asked for my keys to the office and informed that I was fired.  As it turned out, he had seen the envelopes in my desk drawer, had someone read the letters, and decided it was time to let me go - keeping the fees I had earned and would not be paid.  Of course, I appealed to the State employment offices and then learned. it would take 4-5 months before a hearing would be scheduled.  So much for my dream.

Fortunately for me, I had made friends along the way and one directed me to another, more reputable agency and I started there within a week of my interview.  The traffic was slower, but the office attracted a better class of applicants and I was fortunate enough  to place an executive whose new employer paid his fee which was close to earning enough for me, almost equal my "losses" with the other agency.  My new manager and I became good friends and although I was not earning what I had expected to be earning, I was making excellent contacts with prospective employers.  When my friend and his wife decided to move to another area, I was made the manager.

I would learn that the agency owner's only interest was in a good return on his investment, and I was able to convince him that I had hired some reputable employees, capable of running the office when I was not there and we could make more money if I started travelling, searching for people needed in the LA area, and we made a deal.  At long last, I thought I had arrived.  We did well.  The office was productive and I was successful dealing with other out-of-State agencies.  Then the owner died and his wife sold the agency without any word to any of us.  At least she paid us what we had earned and gave us a 10% bonus on top of that.

I would be hired as Manager of another agency and would soon learn that they were doing some things that troubled me, so I began to quietly search for another opportunity.  It came rather quickly in the form of an out-of-town agency owner who was interested in opening a branch close to one of my employers offices and I hired two of the people I had previously employed.  Shortly after we started, I learned there was problems in the financing the new office, so I offered to underwrite that for a share in the overall company operation.  They were doing good where they were; I knew we do as good if not better.

I had been leasing cars and had just signed on for a new Mercury.  I was at home when my "partner" stopped by and asked if she could use it for the weekend, leaving her Cadillac as collateral.  "Sure, why not!"  Monday morning came and she had not returned and so I called her office, leaving word for her to call when she got in.  I really had expected that she might be returning the Mercury later in the day, but she did not.  Two days passed and her husband called  with really bad news.  His wife and "our" bookkeeper had cleaned out the corporate accounts and the family's and that my Mercury was on the highway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles where the State Police reported that the engine was burned up, apparently when they has run off the road and tore a hole in the oil pan.

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