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Cash—Rochelle Udell Has A Backup

Cash — Rochelle Udell Has A Backup

Today, sixty-five percent of payments made in our country are in some digital form, but not so long ago, I used cash or checks. As a kid at my family bakery, I counted and rolled pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters and slide them into neat paper rolls supplied from the bank. The rolls of coins made it easier for the bakery to make an accurate accounting of the cash taken in each day and to deposit it at the bank. Then bread was thirty-eight cents a loaf. As I got older, I counted all the received daily cash from the register at 4:00 p.m., slid it and a deposit slip into a zippered and locked bank bag, slid that bag into a white bakery bag, thinking that would keep me safe from potential thieves, and walked one block to make a secure deposit into the night vault at the Manufacturers Hanover Trust Bank. Was it a good day or a not so good day for the bakery was revealed by the number at the bottom of the deposit slip.

Like Fani Willis’ father, my father always insisted that his daughters carry just-in-case,” cash. My father used cash to make sure he got on a ship to get to America in order to stay alive, tipped big, greased the palm of many a maître d’ for a good table. My mother never, not once, left our apartment without cash in her purse and sourball candies in her pocket in case she had to flee a pogrom. Like my father and mother, I am always prepared for anything and a generous tipper, especially knowing what it means to be on the receiving end, and use cash to stay safe. Here’s the story.

Doug and I always had household/nanny help. Both of us worked long hours and often needed to travel. Most of the times, help came via word of mouth. As our kids grew up our needs changed, and it was less childcare and more household maintenance we needed. When we moved from New York City to the suburbs, it was sometimes difficult to locate someone who could drive as well as take care of things at home, so I turned to an employment agency. After viewing several resumes, I landed on a woman who had a driver’s license and a smile. Early on, things got off to rocky start with her moving furniture around and not responding to notes that I left. Realizing she didn’t read, with her permission, we enrolled in ESL classes, together. My mother didn’t read, and my empathy was in full bloom. On mornings, she mixed us some protein concoction, which we didn’t ask for but tasted out of courtesy but later, needed to decline. We tried to make the best of the relationship with our housekeeper, but soon, the re-decorating got out of hand, as did her belligerence and finally it was time to part ways. I had grown afraid of her, so I did what my father would do, reached into an envelope from my drawer and pulled out a large wad of cash. Put it into her hand, wished her well and changed the locks. 

A few months later, I heard on the car radio that she was arrested for murdering the head of the employment agency.