Conny was in town this weekend. If we learned one thing, it’s that in Ohio, you cannot buy beer from a store past 1:00am. We tried three places and all of them, even the seedy one, denied us. We felt a little like 18 year old kids on prom night, with girls begging for wine coolers, knowing that they would be running off with the olda boys if we couldn’t provide.
(Into the time machine we go, back to 1997.)
Conny and I worked together at the same museum way back when. In 1997, Conny decided to move on as I decided to stay with the organization. Every year during our annual review process, we would learn about our bonuses. In years past, bonuses were a big deal. The company would talk about the huge pool of money there was to draw from. The monthly meeting before the bonus dispersal was always exciting with people discussing what cut of the pot they thought they would get. The pot announcement was always a big affair. In 1997, as we all anxiously waited for the announcement that never came. Later we learned that resources were being utilized in other areas and that the pot was much smaller. There would be bonuses, just not as big in years past. Everyone was disappointed.
Every year we were told not to consider the bonus part of our salary and that it was in fact, just a bonus. The bonus was divided up and given out in quarterly portions, so people did end up budgeting their lives around the bonus. During my review, I was told what my raise was going to be and my bonus. When added together, I was actually making less than I was the year before. I was in a pretty good position with the company at the time and was able to act disappointed. My VP understood and wished there was more she could do. I then reiterated that I was very disappointed with a head tilt and shrug that suggested that I was going to look for another job. She crossed her arms and put her hand on her chin to suggest that I could go fuck myself for pretending like I was going to quit when she knew I wasn’t. I leaned back in my chair and put my hands behind my head to communicate that not only was I going to quit, but that I might burn down the building and piss on the ashes. With that and a head nod, she said that was all she could do and left.
About ten minutes later, she came back with exciting news. She said that due to an odd coincidence, she was able to pull together an additional $200 to add to my bonus. Not much, but it was a very thoughtful gesture. I thanked her and thoughtlessly spent the money at the nudie bar.
The bonus system got smaller and smaller until it just wasn’t there one year. Everyone saw it coming and they did a good job of weaning us off of it.
Years later at a party, someone brought up the old bonus system. I told the story about how I squeezed an extra $200 from the company. That’s when Conny said, “$200? Back in 1997?”
“That was my bonus that they took away from me.”
Conny had been a part timer in 1997 and they got smaller bonuses, but $200 was huge to a guy like Conny. When Conny moved on, he was told that he would still get his bonus. A day later, he was told that because he was leaving the company, he was now ineligible for the bonus. He was alright with that until he found out that other people leaving the company got to keep their bonuses. He got dicked.
Because I bitched, I stole Conny’s bonus.
I have to laugh at that story because Conny now makes a lot more than I do. I think he pays in taxes what I net every year. Conny says he’s over it, but last night, I caught him counting out $200 in quarters from the change jar in the guest room. He said he was just seeing how much change was in the jar, but we all know that he’s still bitter.