Letter of Rec
Kirk Weixel

Dear Professor Anderson:

Thank you for your request for a letter of recommendation for Jessica Diamond. As you have noted, my work-study secretary has been accepted to your degree program and is applying for an assistantship. Well, I am pleased, nay ecstatic, to offer my humble opinion of her. You have asked that I address the following matters related to her job performance: organizational skills, reliability, and independence. Here you go.

Since I teach narrative writing, perhaps I should compose this letter as the story of my association with Ms. Diamond. Allow me to begin on that first day that she walked—should I say burst—into my office. Because she leaves a strong impression, I recall the details vividly. It was September, one of those glorious early fall days when the curtains wave lightly like the queen of England and flutter the papers on my desk. She knocked decisively as she entered, a rap on the glass panel in the middle of the walnut wood frame surrounding it. Before I could blink, she was standing in front of me, her right hand thrust forward.

"Dr. Ringtone, I'm Jess Diamond. I've been assigned to you for the semester. How can I help?"

My name is Rinton, but Ringtone tripped off her tongue so musically that, to this day, I have not had the heart to correct her. I find it rather charming actually.

You've inquired about Ms. Diamond's organizational skills. They are Herculean, and she approached my office as if it were a stable to be cleaned. I am, I admit, not the most orderly person, and within minutes Jessica was burrowing into my file drawer tossing duplicate or outdated files into the wastebasket, muttering,

"No need for this," or "Do you really want department minutes from ten years ago?"

I did not and was wise enough to give her free rein (or, in her case, free reign) to get rid of anything outdated or unnecessary. Shortly before she left for the afternoon, she glanced at my desk and shouted,

"Oh, dear God, not floppy discs." The next day she signed out a flash drive from our bookstore and began the long process of transferring my files. Yes, I can assure you, she is organized, and thanks to her, so am I.

As the above anecdote suggests, Ms. Diamond is also as independent as the Fourth of July. Within days, she was handing me my schedule for the week rather than the reverse.

"Now, don't forget, you have a meeting at 3:00 in Jefferson 205 with potential drop-outs. The salary and benefits committee meeting has been moved from Wednesday to Thursday, same time, same place. Oh, H.R. called. You still haven't signed the disabilities contract for Sandra Harman."

I was in heaven. My life, which had gone from spiraling out of control to galloping off, was now sailing gently into port.

When I expressed a desire to be high tech, at least to learn more about email and such, she patted my shoulder and assured me that her boyfriend—I thought she called him Snot but I'm starting to lose my hearing and it's actually Snort—was a whiz at that stuff and would get me up to speed.

Sure enough, the next morning there he stood with Jessica at his side. He must have noticed that I was staring at him because he held out his hand and said,

"Dr. Ringtone, I don't know whether you remember me, Jonathan Burkhardt. I was in a couple of your classes, but I dropped before the cut-off date."

Later, I checked his name on my lists, and he meant that he had come to class on two separate occasions during the semester, on the first day and then once after mid-term.

"Since me and Jess have been hanging together, I'm a lot better."

Jessica smiled. "I'm maturing him."

If he was good enough for Jessica, who was I to say otherwise.

"Jess tells me we need to jump you into the twenty-first century." We all laughed as Snort scooted me out of my chair, sat down, and turned on my computer.

"You'll need to type in your password."

I leaned over and pecked out M-O-N-I-C-A as Snort waited patiently (is there any other way to wait, I wonder?). Monica is my wife's name. I tried other passwords, but I can never remember them.

"Great," he said. "I'll have you caught up in no time."

And he was right. Within a week, he had deleted obsolete files and placed others into a more logical—what shall I call it—place? (Oh, dear, repetition. Give me an F Professor Anderson). I bragged to my colleagues about my good fortune, and they were astonished. "Burkhardt! You're joking," they would gasp, but I was dead serious.

And speaking of death, J and S on one occasion nearly sent me into cardiac arrest. Since I spend little time at the office and Jessica wanted to spend so much, I gave her a duplicate key. When after dinner one evening I returned to the office to pick up a committee file for the next day, I unlocked my office door and found Jessica and Snort on top of my desk. You can imagine my reaction, but of course this was Jessica and all was not as it appeared to be.

I should note, I think, that without Jessica as my secretary, no one, including her and Snort, could have done anything on top of my desk, considering how cluttered it used to be. But that, I suppose, is beside the point. Back to the matter at hand, or more specifically, in Snort's hands. Just as I was an inch away from admonishing the two of them and throwing them out of the office as God dismissed Adam and Eve from Eden, Jessica sat up, dangled her legs over the edge, and said calmly,

"Dr. Ringtone, thank heaven you're here. Does this look realistic?" Then she lay back, turned to the aforementioned Mr. Burkhardt, and directed him to assume a romantic pose reminiscent of "The Kiss" by, is it Renoir?

"What in the world are you doing?" I enquired. I may not, by the way, have used the word world, but you get the idea.

"Rehearsing, of course." She stared at me with her mouth open in shock. "Dr. Ringtone, you didn't think that we were . . .Oh, Dr. Ringtone. You were the one who suggested I get more involved in extra-curricular activities."

She was referring, not to the extra-curricular activity that I am sure you are imagining, but to an audition notice for a local production of Equus. "Snort was just helping me to prepare for the consummation scene. I'm disappointed in you."

As it turned out, she never went for the part, but I mention the incident simply to show how thoroughly she prepares for everything. I'm confident that you can expect the same dedication.

While what I have told you ought to have you begging for Jessica as an employee, I have saved the most laudatory tale for last. As so many others have suffered from identity theft, I have fallen victim to it myself. Two months ago, someone drained my bank account and ordered large quantities of men's and women's clothing from two of my credit cards. The clothing shipments have been tracked to a small town in Mexico. Jessica and her boyfriend have toiled side-by-side to catch the criminal, who it seems is always one step ahead of them. My faithful student workers are not giving up, though. In fact, they have even offered to fly to Mexico, if I can cover the plane fare and other expenses, and attempt to locate the goods. How's that for dedication? Naturally, I said yes.

If I have not yet convinced you to hire Jessica, I doubt that anything I say further will be of value. Let me put it this way: Jessica Diamond is a pearl of great price. If you possess the wisdom to recognize her extraordinary gifts and offer her an assistantship, your life will never be the same.

Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

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