Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hand in the cookie jar

I read in my local newspaper today that one of my former coworkers has just been arrested and charged with embezzling nearly $10,000 from the school district where we worked. Carolee was a financial secretary for a junior high school on my daily route.

According to the news story Carolee had been writing checks to herself, forged a teacher's name on some credit card receipts, and like most dumb criminals got herself caught. Over a period of three decades with that organization I saw other people succumb to the lure of having money in front of them and thinking how easy it would be to just take some. Maybe they also thought they'd pay it back when they got their paycheck, but when the auditors stepped in the curtain came down on their activities.

This 37-year-old woman was a bit of a scandal. She had tattoos on both arms and legs. I wondered how she got the job, since she didn't look professional in the least. The other secretary in the office told me when Carolee applied for the job she was covered up. She had a couple of kids and was living with a man named Mike, who she referred to as her fiancé.

A young guy worked as a custodian at the school. His name was Trent and occasionally I'd see him talking to Carolee. After I retired I saw Carolee and Trent having dinner at a restaurant. It was an aha moment. They were having an affair. She dumped Mike, she and Trent got married, even though he is 15 years younger than her. I hope he wasn't complicit in her crimes.

It's too bad that people risk their families and their jobs over stupid stuff like this. I'll bet she got in over her head, and when she started stealing she couldn't stop. I just wonder if she'll plead it down and avoid jail, or whether she'll end up serving a stretch and have to pay it back.

A couple of years ago I was talking to Carolee and told her that my granddaughters called me Papa Smurf. She thought that was hysterically funny. The next day I went into the school office and she handed me a gift, a pair of Smurf pajama bottoms. I wasn't the only one who thought that was kind of strange, but now I'm thinking maybe she embezzled to get those pants for me. Damn, I hope they don't come looking for my Smurf pajama bottoms. I'm wearing them right now.

(Note: I changed the names in this story to prevent me from getting beat up. "Trent" is a body builder and I don't want to mess with him. The picture on the top of this post is not the person named in the story, but yet another dumb embezzler. It'll do for illustration purposes. On the other hand, the little blue guy is actually Papa Smurf.)

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