”So, we’ve been pleased with your work, and that comes with some benefits around here.”
I was sitting in Rom and The Amazon’s office at Dishonest Used Car Dealership, getting my nine-month review. It should have been a three-month review, but like most things at our car dealership, it just kind of never happened.
Rom: “The biggest thing for you is that we’re going to move you from hourly to a salary-plus-commission pay structure. Your base pay is going to go up, and we’re going to offer you 10% of net income on your service tickets. We have to figure out a few specifics of your compensation package, but we’ll have all the details for you before Friday.”
All of this sounded very good, and it was nice for once to have someone acknowledge that, no, I’m not actually the spawn of Satan. I left their office happy for once, pleased to have my work recognized and even more pleased at the prospects of making a little more dough.
The stars aligned and it turned into a very busy week for Sales and Service alike. Sales had a huge influx of people come in who were interested in our first batch of grey-market Smart Cabrios – tire-kickers, mostly, but they take near as much time as genuine customer. As for Service, Rom had purchased a dozen or so cars sight-unseen from an auction in Miami and had them shipped to us via a handful of hotshotters. These cars were trickling in a couple three at a time, and each one needed an inspection and a bunch of work, since they were all piles of junk. I always wondered what on Earth got into Rom’s head to make such purchases, but he claimed that used cars were considerably cheaper in Florida since, “the market is flooded with cars from dead k#kes and all the f#cking n###ers down there getting shot.” Yeah, that’s a quote. After he said it, I jotted it down on a scrap of paper to preserve for posterity the single most racist thing ever said by a human being. When I die, I’m bequeathing it to the Smithsonian. Children of the 2050s will come to the museum to learn about race relations in the early 21st century, and that little scrap of paper will explain everything. In any case, we were slammed all week with work and the final meeting to discuss the terms of my new pay package, you know, just kind of never happened.
Friday evening came and with the office nearly empty of employees our Incompetent Tech Guy finally came around, slapped my paycheck on my desk, and absconded out the door. This was a trick he did every week – wait until the office is empty to hand out paychecks. He figured this meant he didn’t have to drop the money into the payroll account until Monday morning, which made the company an entire extra seven cents of interest or something. I’m not entirely sure his math checked out since it seems like the effect would cancel out after the first time you shifted the paychecks back, but such logic was lost on him and it just wasn’t worth getting shouted at. In any case, ever since the cleaning lady swiped my paycheck off my desk and tried to cash it, I always hung around until ITG did the rounds which f*cked up his plan anyway.
I excitedly opened up my paycheck to see what great new riches I was going to deposit into my sad excuse for a checking account. Perhaps I would take all my money and build a swimming pool full of coins à la Scrooge McDuck. Maybe I would go “all up in da club” and make it rain on some wimmins. Or more likely, I would just spend it on alcohol and mozzarella sticks. I pulled out my pay statement, closed my eyes, did a drumroll on my desk, and opened my eyes to find that my huge raise added up to… -$12. Yep, I had just made $12 less in one pay period than before my raise. My heart sank. Surely this couldn’t be right. I shot off an e-mail to Rom, CCing The Amazon, ITG, and Colossal Redneck suggesting that there might have been an error. They’d see it on Monday, and then everything would be square.
Monday rolled around, then Tuesday, then Wednesday, and Thursday, and each day, every one of my superiors had an excuse as to why they didn’t have time to discuss why my raise was not a raise. We were too busy to have a meeting. They didn’t have the particulars in front of them. ITG thought Colossal Redneck should handle it. Colossal Redneck thought Rom and The Amazon should handle it. Rom and The Amazon thought ITG had made a mistake in his math and I that I needed to talk to him. Excuses excuses.
Friday morning came, and I was no longer particularly interested in being pushed off yet again. I sent Rom and The Amazon an e-mail explaining that as soon as they came in for the day, we were having a meeting to get this paycheck situation solved. Hopefully it would be the first thing they would see, and we’d get all this nonsense squared away.
A bit after 9:00, I saw the two of them pop up in our IM client, and I walked over to their office. Rom was at his desk leafing through a catalogue and The Amazon was busy trying to get some weird cheap iPod knockoff thing to sync with her laptop.
Me: “Morning, guys. I’m sorry to keep bugging you about this, but I’ve got to have this paycheck situation solved right now. It’s been put off and put off for a week, and it can’t keep getting put on the back burner.”
Rom: “36055512, we’re a little busy right now. Maybe there’d be a better time to discuss this.”
Me: “You’re looking through a catalogue. There’s no customers yet. We’re not busy. I want this handled now.”
Rom sighed and tossed his catalogue onto his desk.
Rom: “Fine. Explain this again.”
Me: “Sure. Before my review, I was an hourly employee, and I averaged around 50, 55 hours a week. Just based alone on the hours we’re open, the job is ten hours a day minimum, and I come in for a few hours on Saturday every other week or so when you guys need help. Now, I’ve done the math, and it looks my new salary is just my old hourly rate times forty hours a week. I was offered a raise on my base pay, and that’s decidedly not one. Even with the commission I was offered, which I do appreciate very much, my total take-home is going to be identical to what I was making hourly, and that’s if we’re busy and I can sell a lot. If we have a slow couple of weeks, it might be a few hundred less.”
It was not the most diplomatic of arguments, I’ll agree, but I was getting fed up with getting put on the back burner.
Rom: “So what do you want?”
Me: “I would, of course, like to keep the commission. But, I want my base pay to be at least equal to what it was before you put me on salary. I would like it bumped by $600 per pay period, which would put it roughly equal to what I was taking home at my old pay rate. You guys get a lot of utility out of me: ninety-plus percent of service invoices are my sales, and I’m the only person in the service department willing to come in on Saturdays and help out. I think that’s worth something.”
The two of them looked at each other and shook their heads. Rom looked over at The Amazon.
Rom: “You want to handle this?”
The Amazon looked at me with a sneer.
TA: “Sure. 36055512, we were going to get this handled for you and we asked you to be patient with us. But by persisting in hounding us about this, you’ve betrayed an incredible lack of faith in this company’s management. That is not the kind of attitude we want to reward.”
Me: “Don’t take this as me not having faith in management, it’s just…”
TA: “It’s just a lack of faith in management. That’s exactly what it is.”
Me: “Look, I was offered a raise for my good performance and…”
TA: “Exactly. You were offered a raise. That offer is now off the table. Your pay will remain as it is right now. That’s all.”
Me: “I’m sorry, but a week ago I was offered a raise and not actually given one, and you’re going to rescind the offer just because I asked you to pay me what I was offered? That is the biggest bunch of bullsh!t I think I have ever heard.”
TA: “What part of ‘that’s all’ did you fail to understand? Get back to work. NOW.”
Every conversation with Rom and The Amazon eventually reached an impasse where they no longer could be reasoned with, and we are already past that point, so as much as I wanted to get in their faces about this, there was entirely zero point. I walked back toward my office. On the way, I ducked into the supply closet and grabbed a few boxes to pack my things. As soon as Colossal Redneck was in for the day I was going to drop the bomb that I was quitting without notice. I pulled down the paintings off the wall behind my desk and began deleting anything personal off my PC. But before I could get too far into packing up my desk, my speakerphone blared out with the panicked voice of Felonious Monk out in the service bay.
FM: “Yo, I need you out in the bay NOW. Get the f*ck out here NOW NOW NOW!”
Felonious Monk typically had a pretty steady head, aside from his occasional bouts of anger and violence. Apparently in a previous life he was quite talented at selling drugs, robbing liquor stores, and beating the everloving f*ck out of Korean convenience store owners, so, you know, he had seen some sh!t. Panic was something I wasn’t accustomed to from him. The last time I heard him yell around like this was when one of our long-since-fired technicians nearly cut his hand off with an angle grinder. This was clearly something to pay attention to. I jumped out of my chair and ran out to the service bay.
Upon seeing me, Felonious Monk threw his hands in the air and walked toward the door.
FM: “Look in the trunk. I’m done. I’m out for the day, and if anyone asks, I wasn’t here.”
He turned back around and pointed a finger in my face.
FM: “I wasn’t f#cking here, you got that? If anybody asks, somebody else was working on this car. I was sick, I was at a doctor’s appointment, I was out fishing, I don’t give a f#ck, but I was not here.”
He turned back around, got in his Volvo, and peeled out of the parking lot.
The other three technicians came over to his stall to see what all the commotion was about. We looked in the trunk of the car Felonious Monk had been working on. It was a 2001 Lumina that had come in from the Miami purchase. The car’s history suggested that it had been a repo, and the general condition of the car betrayed the same. The seats were covered in cigarette burns and nary a body panel was straight on it. Usually repos belong to the bank that issued the loan, and the bank just wants a bit of their money back. They tend to be not particularly interested in spending another dime on the car, so whether they’re cherry or completely beat, they just go straight to the auction with zero cleanup and zero inspection. This was one of those.
Everything in the trunk appeared correct, other than a layer of filth and grime that covered most of the plastic back there. But then Mr. Sarcastic lifted the trunk floor.
MS: “Welp, that would explain the freak-out.”
Nestled into the spare tire well was four little bags of white powder and a 9mm Hi-Point. We had just bought a drug mule. No wonder Felonious Monk had had such a meltdown. I doubt his parole officer would be too very amused to find him hanging around a bunch of drugs and a gun. “Honestly, they’re not mine,” doesn’t work particularly well when you’ve spent the majority of your adult life in a federal penitentiary.
I paged Rom and The Amazon out to the service bay just so he would know what was going on, and then called the police to come seize the contraband in the trunk. Rom and The Amazon immediately appeared from around the corner and I informed them as to what was going on.
Rom: “Alright, this has happened before, no big deal. But we should get everyone out of the bay for when the cops come. I’m also going to shut the bay door so no customers see what’s going on.”
I left the situation in Rom and The Amazon’s hands for the moment, and I wandered back to my office to continue packing my things. Fifteen minutes later, a police car rolled into the lot and an officer piled out and came into the office. I led her over to the bay and opened back up the bay door.
Me: “So, we found it this morning. Looks like some bags of coke or something and a pistol in the spare tire well. We got the car at auction a few days ago – I can get you the paperwork if you need it.”
Officer: “Alright. I’ll have a report for you as soon as I’m done. I’m going to have to talk to my superior and see whether we’ll need to take the car as evidence.”
Me: “Cool. I’ll just be in the office. Holler if you need anything.”
I managed to get most of my things into boxes within a half hour or so. Colossal Redneck was apparently not coming in for the day. He was going to be in for a hell of a surprise tomorrow when the office across the hall was empty and the asshole that did 99% of the work was up and gone. I sat down to finish wiping anything good off my computer when the police officer came in from outside.
Officer: “So, the two bags tested positive for cocaine, so I’m going to take them and the firearm. We are going to impound the car as evidence as well.”
Me: “Alright, cool. I’ll just need a receipt for the car and a copy of the report if I can have one.”
The officer went out to her car and printed up the two pieces of documentation. A moment later, a tow truck arrived and the Lumina disappeared from our lives for the foreseeable future, along with the police officer. But, something she had said had caught my attention. I suspended packing up my office for a moment and went back over to Rom and The Amazon’s office.
TA: “What do you want?”
Me: “Just wanted to drop off a copy of the police report on the Lumina.”
TA: “Fine. Leave it here.”
I dropped the report on her desk and turned toward the door.
Me: “You know, there’s something funny. The report says the officer found two bags of cocaine, but I could swear I saw four in the trunk.”
The two of them looked up from their respective computers.
TA: “Is that a fact?”
Me: “You know, I wonder how many bags the technicians remember seeing. I’m going to go ask them what they remember. Because, I mean, if two are missing, then we need to get the police with a drug dog out to find them, right?”
Rom fiddled with the papers on his desk.
Rom: “I’m… I’m sure there were only two. That’s what the report says, right? And it’s… uh… it’s not like they could have wandered off by themselves.”
Me: “No, no of course not. And the only people who were in there alone with the car were you two…”
There was a very long silence while we looked at each other uncomfortably.
TA: “Uh… so… one more thing before you go. This is completely unrelated, but we’ve decided to increase your base pay by the $600 you asked for.
Rom: “In fact, let’s make it a nice round $750. You know, just to… just to make bookkeeping easier.”
I let it hang in the air for a moment before responding.
Me: “That’s all I wanted.”