Lenny, the star of my last post, “THE TROUBLE WITH LENNY,” was a strange character. He was actually introduced here, in THE BERNARD OLCOTT STORY, much earlier in my post, “OF GIANTS AND DWARFS.” I’ll leave it to the readers to determine into which category he belonged.
But Lenny definitely had sticky fingers. I knew him as my Dad’s secretary for a few weeks one summer. The he dropped completely out of sight, out of mind for a school year, where I learned his end story as a kind of epilogue the following summer.
I thought Lenny was a forgettable character in the Bernard Olcott story. He should have been. But he wasn’t. He was one of those initial indicators that something might have been amiss. I was maybe 8 years old at the time. I didn’t recognize it as the signal I could have at the time. If I were truly psychic.
As I wrote last week, “Lenny has long since vanished into the miasma of New York City,” never to be seen, or pretty much thought of, again. Let’s flip forward to 20 or so years later.
Dad loved helicopters.
Right around 1984 or 1985, I found myself working at Olcott International, the descendant of Bernard Olcott & Associates of Pan Am Building fame. Olcott International’s offices have been lovingly described in my aforementioned post, “OF GIANTS AND DWARFS.” The new neighborhood was completely different from the previous Grand Central locale; it was much more rough and coarse.
Alexander Hamilton would likely have agreed.
An agreeable fellow. Unless you crossed him.
An example of this difference was highlighted in “MINOU’S PREDICTION,” where I compared and contrasted the reactions of two different hypothetical women to casual compliments. In my parable, I used the names of “Buffy” and “Rosie.” The latter was a stand-in for one such experience with the office bookkeeper, a North Bergen ‘demoiselle‘ by the name of Cherry¹. She best personified the “Rosie” from my story with her oddly suspicious nature.
It surely wasn’t I she needed to worry about.
For some instinctive reason, I always made a point of chatting up each and every employee at Olcott International. I guess I was curious about them; and they all had a surplus of personality. Gloria Mazaway, the “fruit time” lady. Bill Strothman, the man who pronounced “invoices” like “inverses” and vice versa.
But, like Lenny, not everybody was a source of positive energy.
One morning, when presented with a good morning greeting (and gratuitous compliment) from me, Cherry just looked at me blankly and asked me “what I wanted.” I guess she wished to be left alone in her little office, tucked away on the 2nd floor.
Her job function was bookkeeping and worked primarily as an Accounts Payable clerk under Mike, the company Comptroller. Maybe she just had a lot of checks to prepare that day.
I settled in, back at my desk. As explained in my post, “FIRST TEST,” my initial job function at Olcott International was to effect Trade Mark renewals on behalf of clients. These were due in a wide range of countries. Very wide. Like Uganda, for example.
Uganda, as everyone knows, is a member of the Commonwealth of Shithole Countries.² Interestingly, that year, we had a large number of renewals scheduled there. And we needed to switch our renewal agent in Kampala, the capital city, for cost reasons.
The cost of living in Kampala is lower than New York City. Or surrounding areas in New Jersey, for example.
Mining our networks of worldwide contacts, we had identified a legal practitioner who seemed qualified for the job. A registered letter was consigned, and, a month later, our new contact dutifully replied.
Although the response was favorable – our new man accepted the engagement – he attached an invoice for numerous items, like 2 hours of attorney’s time for simply “perusing our letter.”
This could have been a showstopper. I referred the matter to the head of our legal department, our very own Bernard Olcott, after whom this blog is named. As expected, Dad was not pleased in the slightest and he shot back a terse response. “Retract the invoice,” he dictated to Lorraine, my secretary, “or we’ll find someone else to do the work.” Dad was fond of ultimatums.
A month later, as it turned out, our man did oblige, and he happily joined our joyful world-wide network of renewal agents.
In the midst of such reveries, Mike the comptroller approached my desk and asked to speak with me privately. Intrigued, I followed him to a private office where he explained that there was trouble with Cherry. He showed me several checks made payable to Cherry Szalazzagy³. Signed by none other than Bernard Olcott.
But Dad’s signature looked oddly familiar. Meaning, in this case, it was fake.
My reaction was immediate and visceral, without realizing why. It would take me years until I would connect this dot with the one attributed to Lenny. Lenny really did have a place of honor in the Bernard Olcott Story. I just didn’t know it yet.
But my Third Eye stirred and awakened. And I was deeply annoyed and offended. Someone stealing from Dad? Again?
¹ – Not her real name.
² – I am being facetious, of course, in making a reference to President Trump’s insulting and demeaning reference to many countries, with the possible exception of Norway (an Olympic powerhouse). I have never been to Uganda (or Norway). Based on my travels to poorer countries (as well as poorer regions of richer countries), I am sure that this central African country by the shores of scenic Lake Victoria offers much in the way of culture and beauty. The dignity of the office of President should be reason enough not to avoid referring to other nations in this way.
³ – Not a real Hungarian name.