Friday, December 12, 2008

no holiday bonus means no christmas for most

when i started working here in 2000 they didn't give holiday bonuses. eventually our company was acquired by another and that company did. up until last year they claimed to have given out holiday bonuses for their employees for the last 17 years, but this year things would be different.

we acquired a portion of a mortgage company. thankfully they were not involved in the sub-prime market, but we still took a major hit. ARS issues also were a mega blast to the our firm.

these things may not mean all that much to a guy in a mailroom except when it comes time to receive a holiday bonus. as the market dipped further and further and brokers faces did too, regular employees began to feel the weight of this enormous crisis. the sudden realization that there would be no holiday bonus this year would reverberate through us all.

for the first year in this companies history the holiday bonus would be skipped. it resonated throughout the entire firm. of course none of this was confirmed, but no one dared to hope. people mentioned it here and there. the idea was always the same. it's not going to happen.

i made peace with this weeks ago. i need the bonus. i need it or there will be no christmas for anyone. no presents, no tree...nothing. granted, if i had kids i would have been a lot more careful and simply gotten a second job months ago. but all i have is a husband and 5 cats. i'm pretty sure they won't mind skipping christmas. still, if the holiday bonus is skipped this year so be it. i can live with it. i feel blessed to have a job and i'm working even harder to prove it.

my productivity has gone way up since September. i can be proud of that. my personal life has taken some hits, but it's improving every day. efforts may not always be equal, but they're at least being made. that in and of itself is something to be thankful for.

the other day when an employee asked my opinion regarding the holiday bonus i just said, "listen, yes, the company has claimed never to have skipped a bonus. i doubt they'll skip this year even with the hits we've taken, but if they do be thankful you still have a job and tighten your belt. what else can we do but make do with what we have?" his response was that without that check there's nothing. hard to argue with that since i'm in the same boat.

it certainly doesn't help matters when my husband keeps asking me about this fabled holiday bonus. "when will they release some information?", "if they don't give it to you that's bullshit", "you give so much and they just take the piss."... i never start these conversations off, they just magically pop up here and there all the while the muscles in my neck tighten, pop and bulge to the point that my joints are starting to creek and crack. all i want to do is ignore him. ignore the fact that i can't do everything and ignore the fact that i can't give him as much as i want.

truth is i think someone has been feeling a little poverty stricken of late and the realization that a holiday isn't much of a holiday without money is starting to take effect. so rather than do something about it he tries to "cheer" me up with, "don't worry, you'll get your bonus...", "i can't wait for you to get your bonus." or my favorite, "when we get the bonus you can buy some clothes, or your call of duty 5 copy." notice the 'when', the 'we' and the 'the'. grrrr.

but it's not true poverty is it? not when you have 150+ channels to view all day long, hundreds of netflix movies in your queue, high-speed dsl access, two xbox 360's, two xbox live gold subscriptions, two cars, two cell phones, 5 cats, magazine subscriptions for articles you don't read and a george forman you don't use.

okay, so we're out of yummy food, toothpaste and soap. there's plenty of malto meal and enough turkey burgers to get us through to the next pay check (two more days). there's baking soda and plenty of shampoo so personal hygiene...NOT A PROBLEM. okay, okay, we need toothpaste. i think i have enough pennies in my penny jar to get toothpaste... and a can of tomato paste. mmmm, tomato paste. it's amazing how much we take our world for granted isn't it?

hey, look i can fly! on a tangent. offffff....on a tangent. offf...tangent...offfff. *ahem* huh? sorry, "face off" moment. oooh, nicolas cage.

point is, if there is no holiday bonus, no christmas tree, no kitty litter it's okay by me. i have branches outside of my house...i have dirt and i have my husband. annoying as he may be, i have him. he's mine and i can do what i want with him. maybe i'll wrap him up, throw a bow on his head and have the cats unwrap him christmas morning. you know, to give them something to do.

oh, but wait, there's more. i came in to work today and already had 4 emails in my inbox. a client approved letter from our board of directors about the "Madoff issue". a 2009 benefits open enrollment notice that today is the last day to sign up (for insurance). an email from the board of directors addressing Bernard Madoff's arrest and our exposure to the Madoff entities in relation to Madoff's fradulent activities within Bernard Madoff & Co, an active money maker in the 3rd market offerings that we have utilized over a number a years. apparently we have nothing to worry about...i'm always rather dubious.

then there was a holiday memo from our board of directors. and i thought, "here it comes." i hesitated for a moment and i opened it. there it was again, the message that they've never skipped a holiday bonus only this time, today, it was 1 year older. for the eighteenth consecutive year there will be contributions to 401k's AND holiday bonuses. it's less than it has been in several years, but at least they're not lying to us. the company is disappointed with financial performance, they acknowledge that we're not impervious to exposure risk despite our enormous efforts, told us pretax operating losses have taken their toll and deteriorating industry conditions are continuing to affect us.

we've all worked long and hard this year to keep things running as smoothly as possible. it's not been an easy task and as the director said, "this has not been a year in which the expression 'hard work pays off' has applied." i can attest to that a thousand fold since having passed the 7 & the 66 and subsequently being dropped from commissions. thus lowering my monthly pay. still, i'm being thanked for my monthly efforts in another way and for that i count myself among the lucky. this month i can count myself among the blessed and i can honestly say i'm proud to work here.

thank THE LORD for tax write off's HUH? what? look, i'm not a dummy. i can at least comprehend that there are many reasons why a company would benefit from handing out bonuses even on a down year. although magnanimous in it's actions large companies aren't exactly known for their altruistic efforts.

it's those reasons for which i'm thankful. that and the people that see them as an advantage or an opportunity. whether it's boostin moral, hanging on to your employees or tax write off's they're all good reasons to me.

oh christmas tree here i come. get ready to be f'd by my 5 cats tree biznatch.

tree, thou shalt die!

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