Friday, December 16, 2005

9 to 5, A Story with a Happy Ending

It’s six o’clock and I’m still in the office. Everyone else has gone home for the weekend and the cleaning woman is making her way down the hall. But for once, I don’t mind being here late on a Friday night.

Initially this morning, I didn’t think I could possibly last through the entire work day. I started triaging my work making the bargain with myself, ‘okay, once I get this, this and this done I’ll ask to leave early’. Of course, I couldn’t even power through the course I had set for myself since every ten minutes some new crisis, real or perceived, erupted and I needed to put out the fires.

Mercifully, sometime around noon the prescription medicine for my migrane kicked in along with all of the coffee I had been consuming all morning. A co-worker approached my desk, “Do you have a fever? You look like you’re burning up?” I suspect I did have a fever, but thanks to the caffeine I felt like it might be possible to actually get through the work goal I had set for myself and was trying to ignore my flushed face. “May I?” he asked, as he put his hand on my forehead. “I don’t know, you feel really warm…”

“Okay! No problem,” I responded.

Perhaps I should point out that at this point, I looked like a speed freak. First of all, I didn’t know how to dress for a potential transit strike, and that, coupled with my lack of clean work clothes, led me to put on a ridiculous outfit this morning that looks barely passable for the work day while being comfortable enough for me to contemplate walking 8 miles home to Brooklyn. I stashed a pair of sneakers in my bag too; it seemed pretty likely that the strike wouldn’t extend to busses and subways today but just incase, the thought of spending a night away from my beloved Brooklyn was too much to bear. From all of the caffeine, I was really buzzing- but not in a manner that exuded confidence and capability. More like in a scary DT-esque tremors. Also, I have two giant zits bursting forth on my chin. Just trying to set the scene for you here, folks.

About a half hour later my Boss came up to my desk and asked me, “How you feeling? Less overwhelmed then you were yesterday?” You see, I had a weak moment yesterday and as I was madly collating, he asked me how things were going and I answered honestly, “I’m drowning.”

“Um, not really. But don’t worry, I’m planning on coming in on the weekend.”

“Don’t do that,” he said. “I mean, not unless you want the overtime.”

“Yeah, can we talk about that,” I asked as I was looking at him with one eye; the other eye was fixed to my monitor, my fingers madly pounding my keyboard. “How do I file for that?”

“You’re supposed to be keeping track on your timesheets…”

“What time sheets? I don’t fill out a time sheet, I’m salaried.”
“What?? You haven’t been filing for overtime? Have you been getting paid for it?”

“No,” I said. “I wrote you an email about this a while ago, but you didn’t respond, so I thought I misunderstood and wasn’t eligible.”

The Boss started spluttering and after more discussion we realized that our parent company never informed me I was overtime eligible and sent me any time cards or claim forms to fill out. Despite my protestations that I could call HR on Monday, he decided to call them himself right then. They decided to let me file retroactively and if I complete all the paperwork by Monday, I’ll get the lump sum in my last paycheck of this year. It will be like getting a holiday bonus!

I was a pretty happy girl. I continued to tear around the office trying to get three things done at once all while chasing coworkers and vendors down for missing receipts, invoices and some HR benefit enrollment forms. I logged some very serious time in front of the copy machine copying ten pounds of documents to overnight to Germany. Meanwhile a gift arrived for the Boss- gourmet brownies! “Great,” he said. “We can have these at the staff meeting.” Huh? I checked my email, “Staff meeting in the conference room at 4:30pm”. Crap. Now, usually when they call a staff meeting, “staff” is understood as everyone except Nancy, but I double checked and my name was on the list. I stepped up my efforts running around the office now trying to get everything done for 4:30 pm and noticed I was sweating but whether it was from hopping around or a fever, I couldn’t say.

At 4:30pm the Boss called all of us to gather in the conference room. The brownies were on the table. Well, that’s a start, I thought to myself. After a lot of brute force and finesse in the kitchen, the boss and the wiseguy walked in with a bottle of prosecco that they had to open without the benefit of a corsk screw. Oh, I get it, it’s a holiday thing. We all toasted each other and the boss talked about a great year with a nearly entirely new staff. “You know, Nancy is the third most senior person here…”

“And don’t you forget it,” I reminded my coworkers.

“…and for that, she gets a special gift.” What?

“Oh, is that my cue,” asked NewGuy as he reached into his pocket. I swear, I thought this was a joke. I saw a big gold envelope coming my way.

“No! Guys, what is this? What is this?” I asked as NewGuy presented me with the envelope.

“Open it!”

I opened the envelope to find a card and some smaller envelopes tucked inside. Altogether there was $300.00 in American Express Gift Certificate. "The Boss gave twice as much as everyone else," whispered NewGuy. "I think he really likes you." And then, what did Cupcake do? Well, I felt my eyes well up with tears.

"We really appreciate everything you do here," said the Boss and everyone echoed his sentiments.

"Thank you, thank you" I said, brushing my eyes. It had been the kind of day that if I wanted to, I could have just let go with a big bawl right there, but of course, no one wants to cry at work in front of their colleagues. "Thank you all."

Of course, in the end I had to leave the "party" early to finish photocopying the HR Enrollment forms. And at the end of the night, I was left to clean up the conference room of course, and the mess of cork left in the kitchen. I could still probably afford to come in this weekend and knock out some more work, but all of a sudden the feelings of goodwill towards my coworkers and my job had been restored. "We really appreciate everything you do here," would have been enough. But hey, $300 should be enough for a nice digital camera, right?


Cupcake Queen said...

Cupcake: That is such a cool story...I got a very fuzzy feeling reading are an awesome writer!

jesse said...

I agree with the queen, I feel gooshy inside.

p.s. I did some research and just got a decent digital camera for $100. I got tips, if you like.

Cupcake said...

Yes please! Anyone with any tips on buying a digital camera, please pass it along. I'm not looking for anything too fancy; keep in mind that I am an idiot and I generally take horrible photos.

Joshua said...

Get a canon elph!