I owe my soul to the company store

I don’t often talk about work here. I really try to keep my online “job” here (which I enjoy tremendously) separate from the day job (which pays the bills and makes this one possible) as separate as possible, for numerous reasons — not the least of which is there have been way, way too many tales of bloggers who tell one tale out of school too many, and suffer the consequences. But my employer has screwed up in such an entertaining way, I just had to share it.

A little while ago, under different local management, (I work for a small part of a part of a very, VERY big company — we’re talking in the upper half of the Fortune 500), we had a payroll crunch and all of us in my location (less than a dozen folks) all had our hours cut back. I asked my boss if I could burn off vacation time to fill out each week to 40 hours. Since I had over 3 weeks accumulated and vacation came out of a different budget line, it was no problem. The revenue slump soon corrected itself, hours were restored, and all seemed fine.

Then my location had a severe shakeup — almost half the personnel changed, including the local management. And somehow in the changeover (I THINK this is what happened), “use vacation time to give Jay 40 hours a week” got mangled into “give Jay 40 hours of vacation pay each pay period.” My accrued time had shrunk to about 80 hours at this point, so on my last pay check I received 80 hours or so of regular pay PLUS 40 hours vacation — a nice 50% bonus.

Naturally, I was surprised. I paid down a bill or two, frittered away a bit more, and notified my new management about the situation. I said I really, really didn’t want them to take it back, but likewise I didn’t want to have it happen again. I would like to actually TAKE a vacation, and liked having that built-up time. They called Payroll several times and were repeatedly assured that it would not happen again.

Fast forward to last Monday, the first day of the new pay period. I checked my time card online, and lo and behold — I was down to barely one hour of vacation. I told my boss immediately, and he and HIS boss started raising holy heck with Payroll — who assured them that it was impossible, it had been fixed, there never was a problem, and my paycheck would be perfectly normal on Friday.

Friday rolled around, and here was my paycheck. 80 hours regular pay, 2 hours overtime (I stayed late a few days), and 40 hours vacation pay. Accrued vacation: single digit.

Another round of calls went to payroll. Oops, we’re sorry. But we’ll fix it right now.

I had begged my boss to tell them to NOT correct it, just make sure it didn’t happen again. Not only did I have more bills, but I simply didn’t trust them. They’d find a NEW way to screw it up, and on the next paycheck I’d have another “bonus” and have a negative total of vacation pay. I’d end up owing the company, and I really, really didn’t want that to happen.

Sorry, not possible. According to federal law, they told my boss, they HAD to take it back out of the next pay period. I’d be back to having a week of vacation time built up. In fact, they fixed THAT immediately. And my boss HAD to show me something — they’d made the correction online the very same day. They’d taken 40 hours out of my week to date, and applied it straight to my vacation time. This led to the astonishing warping of the time-space continuum, as after working 3.5 days in the week, my time was somehow -11 hours. As I had feared, I owed THEM time. Also, I can expect that after receiving two checks for about 50% more than I was due, I’d get a check for about half what I normally get.

No problem, right? Except I am not psychologically capable of saving money. Simply can’t do it. That’s why I’m so glad every year to get my tax refund — yeah, it’s a free loan to Uncle Sam, but letting him hold it for me keeps me from pissing it away. Besides, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and patriotic.

So I’m gonna pay off a couple of bills early (rent, for one) and try like holy hell to NOT spend money I simply don’t have to for the next month or so. With any luck, I’ll squeak by this little fluke and get back on track.

Carnival of the Trackbacks LVII
Billy Packer, April Fool


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