Anyway, I grabbed my purse and as I pull it into view from the shelf in back of my desk where I keep it, I had a feeling of Déjà vu. You all know what Déjà vu is right? And if you are from Bakersfield…NO… I don’t mean the strip club across from the Montgomery World Plaza!
“déjà vu [( day -zhah vooh )] The strange sensation that something one is now experiencing has happened before: “I knew I had never been in the house before, but as I walked up the staircase, I got a weird sense of déjà vu.” From French, meaning “already seen.”
As I looked at my purse I realized I had Betty BoBetti’s purse! You might ask “Who in the heck is Betty BoBetti?” Betty BoBetti is a fictitious name to protect the innocent and protect myself from being sued by a woman who has always been very private about her name and personal life.
Betty is who I wanted to be when I grew up. I first met Betty in 1983 when I got a job at a collection agency. I was hired as a bill collector. Well an assistant, trainee bill collector to be more precise. I had worked at the agency for about six months or so and I would often stop to listen to a woman that worked in her own corner of the building. This woman was very vocal, loud and direct. This woman was vicious!
I would hear Betty tell the debtors that they had 24 hours to come into the office with a bazillion dollars or she would refer their file to the attorney’s office and she would sue them and then she would locate assets and then she would levy on those assets and by golly, they would pay this debt! If I had a penny for every time I heard her say, “Well you aren’t a turnip and I don’t want blood, I want cash!” I would be a millionaire! (Every single debtor we spoke to always said the same tired old thing, “Well you can’t get blood from a turnip!”)
I liked this woman’s gall, cheek, audacity! And I wanted to be like her. Here was no shrinking violet, like I had been all my life up to then. Here was a woman who had no fear and knew how to get the job done! Here was the professional mentor I had been searching for!
So I gathered up my own gall and marched up to her and said, “Betty, what do I have to do to become the type of bill collector you are?” I must say I sounded sure of myself even in my legs were shaking the whole time. Betty said, “Are you serious?” I said, “Yes I am.” The next day I was transferred to her department, the Commercial Collection department and began a training routine that changed my life and helped to make me who I am today. (So if you want to blame anyone…blame Betty!)
Betty was the epitome of the quote, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” She taught me that the worst thing that can happen is that someone say no and to never take no for an answer!
I remember once when this highfalutin farmer in the area, a very influential person, came into the office for an Examination of Finances. Betty told me Mr. Farmer was in the lobby and for me to go and conduct the interview. I turned green and wanted to puke. I said, “Ummm Betty, don’t you think you should do it? You have way more experience than I do and this man is a very important man in our city and I’m just a trainee.” Betty looked at me and said, “Alicia…this man puts his pants on one leg at a time just like we do, he’s just another debtor.” I have to say I did a good job with the interview because we did find assets to seize and Betty BoBetti managed to have this man’s airplane repossessed! So before you go feeling bad about this poor man, remember…he had an AIRPLANE and yet he didn’t feel he had to pay his debts!
To get back to my moment of Déjà vu. Betty had a huge purse, almost exactly like the one that I am now carrying. And I call it a purse but really it was more like a briefcase but not as big as a carry-on bag, regardless…it was BIG. I can remember going into Betty’s office and wondering what in the world she needed such a huge purse for! What could she possibly have that would fill that? Now I know, that’s where she carried her “cojones”!
Makes you wonder what I have in my purse right?