28 March 2003
Long before Catch Me If You Can (the Tom Hanks, Leonardo diCaprio movie about a
clever imposter) there was The Great Imposter with Tony Curtis as Fred Demara,
based on a true story of a bright young man who hasn't the patience for the normal way of
advancement and finds that people rarely question you if your papers appear to be in order. He
becomes a marine, a monk, a surgeon onboard a Canadian Warship, and a prison warden. (That
description was from imdb.com)
It always intrigued me that someone could talk
his way into situations and be accepted as what he said he was (and even more that he
could continue to hold so many jobs without being found out). I had to admire the
We may have found the female equivalent.
We advertised for a radiation technologist to operate the new DXA machine when Dr. G
decided to go into the bone density business. He himself had just completed a course to
become a certified bone densiometrist and will soon take the exam to get his license, but
he's not going to be the primary technician on the machine.
We had a few calls for the position, but T was the most promising. She works part time,
she says, in the x-ray department at a local hospital and is looking for fill-in work. Her
husband is a medical transcriptionist for another facility.
She knew her stuff and she came on like gangbusters. She was perky (a bit overly
perky), very friendly and seemed to fit in OK. She was also very eager to learn my job so
she could fill in if the need ever arose. It would be an adjustment, but I was kind of getting used to the idea of having
another person in the little queendom that I'd been running by myself for a
year and a half.
Dr. G insisted on seeing her license before she could begin. The problem was, however,
that her living situation was tenuous. They were between places, she said, living in a
house that her rental agent owned until the house they were renting was ready to occupy.
Unfortunately, all of her earthly belongings were packed in boxes and she couldn't get to
Dr. G said that would be OK, since she'd have the license the next week. In the
meantime, she was there when the technician came to set up the machine and she asked all
the right questions, got all the "training" from him and she ran her first scan
on me (which I posted here).
Well, the next week she "forgot" to bring her license again. Dr. G told her
that he absolutely had to see the license the next time she came in.
The next time she came, looking frustrated, and said that she had the license out on
her kitchen counter to bring in and the baby (18 months old) tore it up. (In retrospect,
this sounds like a twist on the "the dog ate my homework" excuse!) She said that
she would just get the x-ray department where she worked to fax us a copy of the license. They never did.
In the meantime, she "took" me out to lunch twice when she "forgot"
to bring her money and she promised that she woud pay the next time.
Then she took $10 in petty cash to buy a screwdriver to fix a table in the office and
she went off to buy a chair for the dexa room, faxing me the pull slip for the chair so
I'd know how much to pay her (fortunately, I didn't pay her until I saw the actual sales
slip...and the chair).
When her first paycheck came (we still hadn't seen her license), she insisted in going
to the bank with me so she could cash it immediately.
Through all this time, I kind of liked her but there was just "something" not
quite right that I couldn't identify. She never quite answered direct questions, but talked so much you couldn't get a word in edgewise and it was only later that you realized she had never answered your questions--or you didn't have time to get one asked. For another thing, she seemed to have inordinate problems with being contacted. Her cell phone didn't work. Her home phone wasn't connected--and then when it got connected, it didn't work. The e-mail address she gave me came back as undeliverable, and the text messaging address she gave me didn't work either. She had excuses for all of these things--an inordinate stroke of bad luck. She sounded so believable. I really didn't want to feel suspicious, but I was
beginning to get this uneasy feeling that she wasn't quite as she presented herself.
Thursday we had five patients scheduled to come in for test exams, so we could check
the accuracy of the machine. Dr. G reminded her to be sure to bring her license; she could not legally do exams on patients unless we knew for certain that she was licensed. Thursday morning she called me at home to say she was being hospitalized
"DEHYDRATION?" Dr. G exploded, when I told him later. She had been perfectly
fine two days before and now she was dehydrated?
I tried calling the hospital where we thought she was being admitted, but they had no
record of her.
In the meantime, we found an on-line site that lists all of the licensed technicians in
the state, but her name was not there. I hoped that her license was new enough that it
just hadn't been posted yet, but my hopes were fading.
I called her at the start of this week. She answered the phone, her voice sounding
weak. She said she'd been hospitalized for 3 days. She wasn't sure if she should come in
to the office and expose us to the germs she had (she said she'd had a flu). I told her we
absolutely had to see her license. "I'll fax it to you," she said weakly.
By the end of the day, there had been no fax. I called her again. "This is your
job, T," I said. "If you don't get the license faxed, don't bother coming
"OK, I'll get if faxed today," she promised.
There was no fax by the end of the day, and when I got to the office the next morning, there was no fax. I tried calling her but there was no
answer. I thought she might be refusing to answer because her caller ID was telling her it was our office calling, so I tried blocking the phone ID so she couldn't see who was calling and called
again, but got the message that the phone does not accept blocked calls.
So we have finally accepted that we've been had. She tried to get away with it, but she
simply does not have a license. What's worse, the training that went with the machine has
been done and only T knows what the technician told her, so whoever takes the job now has
to learn it from a book.
Today I'm putting an ad in the paper for a new tech. I don't expect to hear from T, to
get my lunches repaid, to get the petty cash back, to see the screwdrivers she supposedly
bought with the money. Fortunately I didn't reimburse her for the chair.
I'm now wondering who else she has scammed over the years. And I'm feeling a bit sad
because I genuinely liked her.