Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Payday

  I didn’t get paid last week but I will this week. My company is not in trouble, I just get paid every other week. This is my second job in a row where I get paid every other week and it is by far my favorite way to get paid.

  I got paid by the week in all my jobs until 1990. On all except one job, my boss or supervisor would give us our check if we were working on payday. If you weren’t working that day, you’d either wait till you were working or just come in and pick up your check. When I worked as a computer operator at a Bank, the bank gave all of us an account and would deposit our money on payday. Since we were the computer operators, the payroll department would give us a tape with the deposits (no disks, internet, or flash drives way back when) and we would load it into the computer. You could always tell who was broke because they would keep asking you if the payroll had been loaded yet.

  When I was young and single, getting paid by the week was great. Get paid on Thursday or Friday, get wasted and broke on the weekend, barely eat the rest of the week, get paid on Thursday or Friday, repeat. As I got older and started getting monthly bills like utilities and rent, blowing my paycheck on the weekend didn’t cut it anymore. I started saving some of my check for the monthly expenses and used some for weekly expenses like gas, food, and laundry. The months with 5 paydays were my favorite, since I had a little extra cash, which is always fun.

  When I started working for Wyatt Data Services in 1990, I was just engaged to Kathy and I got paid only once a month. Luckily I was moonlighting for extra cash at the time. The people I was moonlighting for thought I was crazy for insisting on being paid every week, but I was pretty hard up for cash that first month. Once I got a month ahead, being paid once a month was manageable and I let my part-time boss pay me less than once a week. When I got paid once a month, instead of looking forward to the 5 week months, I was now dreading them because it meant another week of expenses but the same paycheck.

  I left Wyatt in 1993 and went back to work at an coat manufacturer called Amerex for more money so we could move to Iowa and I was back to getting paid once a week. There were a lot of warehouse workers at Amerex and the company would have payroll truck come to the warehouse on payday to cash everyone’s check. Except for the goons hanging around with guns protecting the money, I liked cashing my check before I went home for the weekend. One time I didn’t check my money until I left the window and I was $60 light. I went back to the window and the goons all put their hands on their guns so I put my hands over my head and asked extra nicely if they could give me my $60. They said they couldn’t since I left the window but I did get my $60 back when it turns out the cashier was that much over for the day. I just cashed my check at my bank after that. One time my friend Frank Brandi (the Finance V.P.) cut through the line to ask the clerk a question and one of the goons grabbed his gun. Frank got right in his face and started yelling “What are you going to do? Shoot me?” The goon backed down and was never seen again at the payroll truck.

  At my first job in Iowa, the owner gave us a personal check on the 15th and the end of the month and for 12 years it was back to dreading the 5 week months. When he sold the company, the new owners went to direct deposit and I’ve never gotten a paycheck I needed to cash since except once when my paperwork didn’t make the direct deposit in time for my first check on a new job. I miss not getting a paycheck. I don’t miss taking a trip to the bank to deposit my check, but going to the bank with my check put my job in perspective. Now that my pay is some ones and zeros streaming over the internet and magically appearing in my account, sometimes it feels like I don’t even get paid and I miss the disconnectedness between my work and getting paid.

  When I started working at SourceCorp in 2009, I got paid every 2 weeks for the first time in my life and that has continued in my current job. It’s a lot like getting paid twice a month except twice a year there are 3 checks in a month and an extra 2 week’s pay is like a real bonus. Even if the ‘bonus’ gets used for an unexpected expense like a car repair or just to get ahead on the car insurance or property taxes, I feel great when I get 6 weeks pay in a single month.

  I’ve noticed the mood of the whole company brightens up on the 3 payday months. Since the government is involved with everything else, maybe they can mandate bi-weekly pay and legislate 6 weeks in every month so we can all get 3 paychecks a month every month. Not only would it help lift the mood of the country, since the workers would have an extra paycheck every month, they could spend that money to boost the economy. I hope when they make this law, there is a ‘Buffet’ clause saying millionaires don’t get the extra paycheck, but if they did I wouldn’t mind too much. After all, have you seen the cost of getting a Cadillac or Mercedes tuned up lately? I can’t imagine a politician getting elected if they went against this proposal.

  One really cool thing about getting paid once a month was having a big fat paycheck (This was still in the day when I got paper checks instead of direct deposit). Once I went to the bank across the street from our Hillside, NJ apartment to deposit my check on a busy Saturday and waited patiently in line while the clerk made useless small talk with every customer (This clerk was the inspiration for the widespread use of ATM machines and direct deposit). Finally it was my turn. I didn’t know the teller and was ready to give a New Jersey grunt when the subject of the weather or any other subject came up when I gave her my check and deposit slip. She took a long look at my check and said at the top of her lungs, 'WOOOOOOO!THAT’S SURE A LOT OF MONEY. WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING?’ Lots of people stared at me and I was pretty embarrassed but I didn’t want to admit I only got paid once a month, so I said very softly, “I kill people for a living and it’s sure been busy lately.” I got my deposit slip back in record time along with a mumbled “Have a nice day”. I replied, “Thanks. I’d like to talk more, but I have to get back to work now.”