“Tears are the silent language of grief.” – Voltaire

On Friday I went home early.  Kids were almost ready and Lynda was getting ready for the big night.  She said to me I decided to wear the beautiful blouse that Mrs. Benda bought me in Paris.  I said she would love to see you in that blouse.  I got washed and put casual clothes on before we got into the car.  We didn’t have any problems in finding her place.  Her apartment was located in a nice building.  When we went up to her apartment she opened the door and welcome us into her beautiful home.  I was staggered to see the decoration.  The drapes, paintings on the walls, and the colours of the walls were all eye-catching.  I said it’s a huge place.  She said they bought two three bedroom apartments side by side and reconfigured everything to meet their requirements.  Their son who was between Maxine’s and Adam’s age was standing there to meet us.  Mrs. Benda said to him David take these guys to the game room and entertain them.

Joe wanted to take our orders for drinks and we proceeded to the bar.  They wanted us to go to their living room where the drinks will be served. As soon as we sat down, Joe brought our drinks and Mrs. Benda said thanks for coming.  She said the dinner will be served at 7:00PM and kids will be dining separately.  We said it sounds just fine.  She looked at Lynda again and said that blouse’s made for you.  Lynda thanked her for such an expensive blouse.  She said I asked our cook to make fish for Friday dinner as I understood that Lynda loved fish.  Lynda went red when she heard that.  She said how did you know that I like fish.  She said it’s just bits and pieces that I pick up when people talk to me.  Lynda was totally captivated.  It didn’t take too long for her cook to come and say the dinner’s ready.

We really enjoyed the fish as well as the white wine to go hand in hand.  After dinner Mrs. Benda asked Lynda if she wanted to see the rest of the apartment.  Lynda said would love to.  I went along with them but Mrs. Benda’s focus was on Lynda. 

When we got back to the living room, Joe said we have some after diner Italian liqueurs like:  Limoncello; Amaretto; Sambuca; Grappa or Amari.  He said what would you like?  I said I am driving and Lynda said I already had enough to drink.  Mrs. Benda said don’t worry about the kids they all are taken care off. 

Mrs. Benda said we would like to share some good news with you both.  We said wonderful.  She said we finally bought a house much bigger than this apartment.  We said that’s wonderful news.  She said but we wanted to talk to you about something.  I said we are all ears.  She looked at Lynda and said how about if you accept this apartment as your home and come and live here when we moved out.  I knew exactly what she was talking about but Lynda was confused.  Mrs. Benda explained it to her very carefully.  She said we will put some files in one of the closets and declare it our corporate storage place which will allow us to write-off all associated expenses and you can live here with your kids for nothing.  We have good schools in the area and not too much crime in this neighbourhood either.  Lynda was absolutely dumbfounded.  She had her mouth opened unintentionally.  She had no clue what to say.  Mrs. Benda said you don’t have to answer right now.  Take your time and discuss it on the weekend and let me know on Monday. 

I said Mrs. Benda it’s a very generous offer.  We never had anybody in my career as generous as you and we are utterly grateful to you.  We will discuss it on the weekend and I will let you know on Monday. 

Saturday we took our both cars to the used dealership and traded for a Ford Thunderbird.  We were reasonably happy with the condition of the car that we bought but we wanted to test it out when we will drive long distance on our way to Fredericton.   I had to give the Buick back to Mrs. Benda on my last day at work.

We both avoided going back to discussing what Mrs. Benda had proposed but it was bugging us like heck.  Finally, Lynda asked me if I had any thoughts on the subject.  I said to Lynda to be totally honest with you, I am still shocked at her proposal.  She’s definitely very creative minded but one of these days she will be sorry for her ingenuity.  Lynda said what are you talking about? I said I was referring to how she proposed to justify the expenses associated with the apartment.  Lynda said another thing, when you went to use the washroom; she asked me if I can do anything to change your mind and I told her, not in so many words, that once his mind‘s made up, it’s very hard for anybody to change it.  Lynda said I knew that she was very disappointed with that statement. She said I am totally convinced that you will never find any employer more generous than Mrs. Benda for sure.

I had to take a minute or two to organize my thoughts before I opened my mouth.  I said to Lynda that I knew that Mrs. Benda is devious but I had no idea about the extent of her deceitfulness.  She said what do you mean?  I said let me tell you a couple of things about Mrs. Benda which I never shared with you before.  She said I am all ears.

I started saying that you know Hellen who works with me?  She said, yes, I met her.  She seemed to be a very nice person.  I said the story is that Helen’s husband is the bank manager where Eletex does its banking and Helen used to work for the same branch. Believe it or not, her husband approved the initial loan for the company and since then he became the financial advisor for Mrs. Benda which’s not uncommon for a bank manager.  What’s not common is that Mrs. Benda persuaded Helen to work for her by offering her more salary than she was making with the bank and by offering her a brand new leased Corvette car.  Helen looks after Accounts Payable as well as Accounts Receivable and some accountant recommended by the Bank Manager is hired to do annual financial statements every year for Eletex. 

Lynda said is there anything wrong with that approach if they are doing their jobs? That’s a million dollar question, I said.  Nobody knows the answer to that question only because nobody has a clue about what’s goes on between Helen and Mrs. Benda.  When they both were away the other week, I tricked Sandy to borrow the keys for the cabinet and I was utterly astounded to learn that Mrs. Benda had no hesitation to charge anything and everything on her expense account including the garden furniture and expensive paintings whereas Lew, the other VP, had charged hundreds of dollars on his expense account for various shows when he was in London, UK, on his way to visiting his parents back in South Africa.  Better yet, I also found out that Mrs. Benda’s mother had a corporate credit card which she used every month for hundreds of dollars without any hesitation.  Would you believe that it took me only a few minutes to find out those things as Sandy wanted the keys back as soon as possible. 

I looked at Lynda and said, it’s neither safe nor sustainable for me to continue to work there and she said “Fredericton here we come”.

The time I left Eletex, everything was under control. The new person was getting used to the environment. I was grateful to Mrs. Benda for the way she treated me as I never thought that I would ever be able to work for a woman. It had to do with my male chauvinistic background where we Indians are known for keeping women barefooted and pregnant. Nevertheless, I was sad for Mrs. Benda.

Our Story – Chapter 31