“Karen and the Philanthropist” by Lucinda Kempe

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Karen attempts to find a use for her homemaking skills in the workplace.

Please enjoy our Feature Story: “Karen and the Philanthropist” by Lucinda Kempe

Karen reviewed the job advert in Craigslist. Was it a fluke? “Major international philanthropist in need of a right hand personal assistant, $125K plus bonus, New York City and the Hamptons. ” She thought about her twenty plus years as a mother with her undeniably hard-working but high-maintenance husband and his immigrant family who wanted everything, including the children’s baptisms, their way.  Then she laughed and composed her letter.

Dear M.I.P.:

Responding to your Craigslist posting for a right hand personal assistant with outstanding administrative skills, I’m offering my left.

Now why would you want a left when asking for a right? Realistically, you need ten. But ten at $125K each would be pricey. I’m available for half that.

I’ve spent twenty years as a mom to two children and as a wife to a high-maintenance European, an underpaid job that requires the patience and perseverance of Gandhi.  In 2007, I returned to the work world as a legal secretary for an Estate and Trust attorney. The position ended with the collapse of the lending industry. Sadly, I was guillotined.

If you are an M.I.P., I need work that pays. The skills I’ve developed are worth a fortune, and I’m not asking for a fortune.  If you are not an M.I.P., good luck with the hand job.

References available upon request.

Thank you for your immediate consideration.

Very truly yours,

Karen Allenia



Just as she finished typing, Karen’s husband passed her desk.

“Some people have to go to work,” he said, stopping to peck her cheek.

She pecked him back, opened Outlook Express, clicked paste and sent the letter with her resume.


Justine sat barefoot at a mahogany desk in the Trump Tower sipping her Dean and Deluca double-shot latte.  She adjusted the speaker on her desk, and the sound of Wagner’s Prelude and Leibestod flooded the room. Then she returned to scanning her iPad mail.  The “Dear M.I.P.” heading in the subject line caught her eye.  She laughed and typed a reply.

Dear Karen:

What a witty approach to getting a job. I didn’t know what to expect from Craigslist. Loathe employment agencies. They usually send social climbers who arrive in cheap shoes.

Based on the spunk of your letter, you get an interview.

My private cell is (212) 899-9912.  Call me, leave a message and we’ll set it up.




“Call me, Jussi,” Justine said, “Please, have a seat.” She gestured to a ladies parlor chair.

“Nice to meet you, Jussi,” Karen said.

“I’m a bit . . . short-handed.” Justine said and smiled.  She tapped on Karen’s resume.  “You got my attention, but you have less than ten years’ actual employment history.  Why should I hire you?”

Karen shifted on the chair. “I’m funny?”  She eyed the logjam of papers and books piled on top of Justine’s desk.  “Seriously, I’m a great organizer and . . . .”  She noted a pair of five inch, red-leather pumps near a stack of binders on the floor.  “Christian Leboutin! I love those, but how can you walk in them?”

“Leboutin cost a fortune. What are you wearing?”

Karen smiled sheepishly. “Birkenstocks.  I have bunions!”

Justine rubbed the bunion on her right foot with her left. She rummaged in a drawer. “Damn it, I need a pen!”

Karen pulled her pen from her bag and handed it to Justine.

“A Pentex Roller Ball, 0.7 nib? My favorite! How did you know?”

Karen grinned. “Can’t write without a good tip.”

Justine smiled and scribbled on Karen’s resume. “Hired!”

Karen’s face radiated shock. “For real?”

“Reading between the lines is my métier and your letter screams ‘desperate,’ but I’m. . . .” Justine surveyed the unattended stacks of letters, files, binders and the red shoes. “I’m a bit desperate, too.  And, I get husbands. My fourth is sent on regular trips to Bahrain to research socio-economic mores.”

The notes of the Prelude and Liebestod swelled.

“Jussi, may I make one suggestion?”  Karen asked.

Jussi nodded.

“Lose the Wagner.”

The two women smiled at one another, cementing their new alliance. 

Lucinda Kempe lives in an Arts & Crafts style house on Long Island where she exorcises with words. Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, decomP, Corium, Every Day Fiction and Metazen have published her work. She completed conferences at Southampton Writers Conference with Roger Rosenblatt 2010, Frederic Tuten 2011, and Kim Barnes 2012. She attended The New York Writer’s Institute for a nonfiction class with Jim Miller (summer 2013) and has worked as a private student with the poet Larry Fagin since 2012. Presently, she is in a graduate humor class (Stony Brook) with Patty Marx.


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  1. “an underpaid job that requires the patience and perseverance of Gandhi”

    Gandhi and Wagner…Nice story. Enjoyed it.

  2. James, thank you for reading. Glad to see you enjoyed my sense of humor!!

  3. I used to be recommended this web site via my cousin. I’m not sure whether or not this publish
    is written through him as no one else know such precise about my problem.
    You’re amazing! Thank you!

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