I never had a chance to say goodbye.
It was Jan. 31, 2005 when then 24-year old Esperanza Mena walked into my office to complete an application to become an administrative assistant. She was smartly dressed in a professional gray business suit with classic pinstripes. She had an infectious smile. I was headed out the door with a female friend who had stopped by to pick me up for lunch. Esperanza and I spoke briefly.
Three days later she would be completing the necessary paperwork when she was hired. During that time, she told me she preferred to go by Espie instead of Esperanza. She also told me she thought the girl I was going to lunch with was applying for the job as well and based on looks, Espie felt she had no chance. We would laugh about that for years.
Espie would become well known in the limousine industry by her attendance with me at various trade shows. She made friends with everyone, and as far as I know, there are no other Espies in the industry as prominent as she was. No matter where I took her, from GCLA meetings to Las Vegas LCT Shows, I could never keep up with her as she was constantly networking. She made many friends from coast-to-coast, including such industry luminaries as Carla Boroday, the late Dean Schuler, Mark Stewart and Leah Katzin. I even recently shared a byline with her in one of my feature articles in LCT Magazine.
Our professional relationship and friendship grew. I would have ideas late at night and call her to bounce ideas with her. When tragedy struck her family and the father of her children died, I was honored that she called upon me to come to her house to discuss the situation with her children. She wasn’t just my assistant. She was and is my family.
In the nearly seven years we spent together, she constantly amazed me with her talents, including an eye for detail, artistic ability, creativeness and initiative. She took classes and convinced me the company should pay for the classes because it would benefit the company, and it did. She joined groups such as the bridal association and put her heart and soul in to being an active committee participant. She created Facebook specials that were as appealing as they were effective.
I always took for granted that she would always be just on the other side of the glass window that separated my office from her desk. She left work early on the Thursday before Labor Day weekend saying that she didn’t feel well. She called in sick the next day in what I figured was going to be a long Labor Day weekend for her. Little did I know, she would never return. On the evening of Labor Day, I checked my email in an attempt to get a head start on the next day. I was stunned to find an email from her sent at 8:48 p.m. and titled, “My employment.”
She resigned her position effective immediately. She had realigned her priorities and felt that being a mom was her most important job right now. She told me where I could find her company credit card, office keys and other items that needed to be returned. There were no words to describe the empty feeling I had in my stomach.
Well, it’s been a little over two weeks. We pulled in a night dispatcher to fill her spot temporarily, and I continue to search for that perfect person to take the open position. The new person will have a new job, but no one will ever replace Espie.
— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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