Thursday, February 3, 2011

Watch your shit.

It’s a really good idea to hold onto your time-slips at work. This way, you can be sure you get paid for every hour you’re there. Every meaningless thing you do, every drop of garbage juice that spills on you, every time you trip and knock your elbow against a corner, it’s all made worthwhile by financial compensation. However, if you don’t keep track of your time, there’s no way to know for sure that you are, in fact, paid for all of this crap.

A long time ago, a coworker of mine was bitching about a mistake on her check and said, “You gotta watch these mother fuckers. They’ll rip you off. You gotta watch ‘em.” To which I nodded, smiled, and pretended like I understood what she was saying. However, after a while, I thought about it and realized that it doesn’t take much effort beyond remembering to grab my time-slip at the end of the week. And although I had absolutely no faith in myself being able to remember that on a frequent basis, I started doing it about a month ago.

Today was payday, half of the two best days of the month. It’s like your birthday and Christmas rolled into one and then mixed with the day you buy your books at the start of the semester. Exciting, yet not without the pain of seeing your money fly away to an obligation. On top of all of that, this is also the first paycheck I am able to check my hours. Every day on the time-slip has the amount of time down to a hundredth of an hour listed next to it, so I can get pretty exact. I found the correct dates, added them together, and what did I find?

The fucking check is wrong. I was shorted 1.2 hours. One hour and twelve minutes (thanks GRE studying for that quick mental math!). I know what you’re thinking because, at first, I thought it too. “Yeah, okay. But it’s only 1.2 hours. You make minimum wage. After taxes that’s barely enough to buy a value meal at Burger King.” And you’re right about that. But then I thought about it in terms of time and not money. I was in that fucking restaurant for one hour and twelve minutes, dealing with the dumbest people I’ve ever dealt with (the customers, not my coworkers [scratch that, some of my coworkers are really dumb, too]) instead of petting my dog/strummin’ the banjo/reading/cleaning the oven/whatever the fuck else I want to do that’s better than being at work. I know that I was only shorted $8.70 (before taxes) but the time I lost is worth much more to me.

Now, of course, I have no way of proving which hour of work I’m not getting paid for. But also, there’s no way of knowing which hour of work I’m not not getting paid for. This gives me the luxury of choosing one at random, and I think I’ll choose the worst one. Granted, this hour of work didn’t happen during the last pay period, but I don’t care. This is what I’m focusing on so I can get more mad and convince myself it’s worth the trouble of bringing it up to my boss.

I was to bring a delivery to a dude named “Big”. Big lived a little south of Turner Field, which is out of our delivery area. I brought this up to my manager, to which he responded with the classic manager move, “Just take it out there, and if it’s not good, we won’t go back.” Sure. Okay. I’ll be a good sport.

I drove to his house and started hiding my GPS before coming to a full stop. It wasn’t the type of neighborhood you wanted people to know you had something electronic sitting inside your car. I walked up to his porch, which looked like the porch from the cabin in The Evil Dead. The wood was peeling, the support poles looked like they could crumble at any minute, all traces of railings were gone long before. The screen door was more of a thin piece of wood with an enormous hole in the front since the screen had worn through. I raised my hand to knock on the door when a man jumped onto the porch next to me after skittering around the side of the house.

Oh yeah, and the streetlights were two houses in both directions so it was dark.

“Hey man! You goin’ in there?” asked my new friend.

“Uh, yeah.”

“Great! Me too!” He raised his hand and knocked on the door through the hole that should have had a screen. He stood back and lightly rocked from foot to foot until the door opened.

“Who the hell are you?” asked the guy that opened the door.

I held up the bag and said, “Delivery.”

The man looked at the bag, back to me, to the bag, to me, all while taking drags off his cigarette every two seconds before nodding and opening the door. He walked into the house, as did the guy next to me. I thought for a moment how bad of an idea it might be to go into the house. But then a general feeling of “fuck it” flashed through me and I followed them in.

Big sat on the couch and didn’t get up the whole time. He had between one and two hundred bills on his lap (I don’t know the exact denominations of each, but they looked to be mostly twenties, tens, fives, and singles). “How much I owe you?” This might be racist, this might be one of those things black guys laugh at white guys about, this might be because I’ve seen movies like Friday, but I’m certain he had a gun either on him or within arm’s reach.

I told him his tab as the guy who opened the door paced in the corner across the room, constantly smoking his cigarette. “Oh man. You guys got the best wings. So good.” Pacing. He didn’t stop moving the whole time. While he did that, the guy from the porch was doing nearly the exact same thing, except he didn’t have a cigarette.

Big gave me the money, I nodded to the perpetuous (I just made up a word and I think it should stick around) people pacing in the corners, speed-walked to my car and got the fuck out of there. “We’re not going back there,” I told the manager when I got back.

One more thing: Big is dead now. He got shot. Good thing we never went back there.

That’s what I’m going to think about when I go to work to bitch about missing 1.2 hours on my check. And this didn’t even take that long, I could combine this with the time a transvestite thought I was a cop and acted like he/she was going to kick my ass and still have some time left over.

And now I know that this could have been happening the whole time, which is even worse than finding out I got shorted a little more than an hour of work. It has certainly happened a handful of other times. This may mean that every single shitty thing I have ever experienced at work, every person that said “my-ooh” and meant “mild,” every time someone didn’t know their own phone number, every time someone turned left out of the middle lane, I might have been dealing with it while not on the clock. That’s fucking terrifying.

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