Wednesday, September 11, 2013

this is a test

T

*

NOTE, written 5 years later: That single letter T used to be the entirety of this post. From September 8 to October 15, 2013, there was a problem with my connection to Blogger.com. So I switched Uncle Mike's Musings to WordPress.com. On October 15, the problem was fixed, and I went back to Blogger.com.

That was the good news from that day. The bad news is, my job of 7 years came to an end that day. My boss lived in a big house in Marlboro, and he and his wife both owned huge SUVs, while I had to take the bus, and walk a mile and a half up a hill from the closest bus stop to the office, and then reverse the process to get home, in an area of Sayreville where if you miss the bus, you have to sit around for an hour to get the next one, or else take a cab, which cost $18 as opposed to the bus' $2.35 at that point.

And he only paid me $10.50 an hour. And he hadn't shown up for a week, and I didn't have direct deposit, and on that Tuesday, October 15, I literally did not have enough money left to get home, or buy lunch. So I left several messages on his phone, each subsequent message containing more instances of the word "please."

The man was making me beg for my pay.

I decided that, if he didn't show up by 3:00 in the afternoon, I would get up and walk home. That was 9 miles. With no food and no drink, and with my already-arthritic legs. And I would borrow bus fare and lunch money for the next day from my parents. And I would deal with whatever consequences he would dish out the next morning.

At 2:57 PM, with 3 minutes to go before my self-imposed deadline, he showed up, and told me to come into his office. He chewed me out for leaving "a very disrespectful message on my phone. You want me to play that message for you, Michael?"

I had him. I called his bluff: "As a matter of fact, yes, I do want you to play that message. Go ahead and play it, so that we can both hear what was said."

The dirty look on his face dissolved. I had him, and he knew it. What's more, he knew that my anger at him now exceeded my fear of being unemployed. And he knew that I knew it. That new look on his face was worth the entire experience.

He said he wouldn't play the message. We yelled at each other for 10 minutes. He said, "Michael, if you're not happy here, just tell me!"

I explained to him, in full, why I was not happy there. He couldn't understand why I was harping on his house in Marlboro (a town with a lot of "McMansions") and his big SUV. I didn't have an SUV. I didn't have a car. I had feet, and arthritic legs, and -- most of the time -- cash for the bus.

I told him he had made me beg for the money that I had earned, and that this was unacceptable. I told him I needed that money that he owed me, and that I needed more money than he was paying me.

He said, "Michael, I can't pay you more money."

I pointed, and said, "That is a lie, and you know it. You can pay me more money. You just choose not to. You don't like the quality of my work? Fine. Tell me. You have that right. You want to fire me, because of the quality of my work? Fine. You have that right. What you don't have the right to do is flaunt your wealth, and then lie to me about how much you can pay me!"

He cut me my check. I folded it up and put it in my wallet. I packed my things. I told the other guy who worked in that office, who was paid even less than I was, and had plenty of reason to be more scared of unemployment than he was of the boss, "Good luck." And I walked out.

I have neither seen the boss nor spoken to him again, nor do I wish to.

Another thing I have never done again: I have never begged my employer for money that I've earned. I haven't had to: The jobs I've had since have paid me on time -- if not particularly well. But at least my employers have been worthy of respect.

Moral of the story: Never, ever trust a businessman from New York City named Donald.

No, he wasn't Donald Trump. He was from Staten Island, not Queens. He wasn't a bigot. (Or, if he was, he hid it very well.) And, as far as I know, he was faithful to his wife.

But he did look down on people who weren't rich, he was obsessed with golf, and he did admire Trump then. I don't know what he thinks of Trump in 2018, and, frankly, I don't give a damn. He is out of my life, and bloody good riddance.

No comments: