And the downside of working for the State

There are some tremendous upsides to working for the State of California. Like the time I was a dimwit and lifted a table (a plastic outdoor table! Not heavy! But heavy enough!) and strained my back at the bookstore. I was insistently directed to the local hospital (while still on the hourly clock!) and given all sorts of care and followup care and drugs and all these wonderful things. Or there’s the fact that you don’t pay social security tax (I know, in theory this isn’t good because I’m not contributing to my future pension, but does anyone out there really believe there’s gonna be social security when I hit 75 or whatever the retirement age will be then?). And you have mean unions representing you making your work life sort of tolerable.

But then something slips and you find yourself slithering through the Rube Goldberg device that is a state bureaucracy. Graduate Assholesistants like me get paid monthly. For some reason the largest, richest state government in the world can’t arrange for non-full time employees to have their checks directly deposited either, so on the first of the month, I’ve gotta pick my money up from the department. Usually, they’re there on the first of the month, so I went yesterday (2 June) to pick up my check, but the department was closed (at 3 PM! Sign me up for an academic job!). Nary a linguist in sight either, so I couldn’t steal borrow their key to get the thing. Today I went back again, but the department was closed yet again (at 1 PM this time! Christ on a bike I want to be an academic!). This time, however, the professor I work for was in her office, so I took her key and went blazing in myself. And everyone’s check was in everyone’s mail box……wait for it…..wait for it…..except mine! Oh frabjous day! What better way to spend a Friday afternoon than hunting for my money.

As further background, the department chair is abroad for a conference or some other damn thing. And, you know, cause it makes sense, apparently the department secretary takes her vacations whenever the department chair takes his vacations. And the student assistant is back in Korea for the summer. Fucking wonderful. So I get on the horn to the university payroll office. They tell me, hmm, maybe it’s at the cashier’s office. So I roll over to the cashier’s office. Nope, no check. The lady behind the counter took pity and called the payroll department, who found a new nugget of information, that all the checks had been signed for by the department secretary. How exactly this happened, since she’s on vacation, is beyond me, but you know, whatever. So I re-borrow my professor’s key and go on a mad excavation of the department office. Through everyone else’s mailbox to make sure an errant delivery hadn’t resulted in my syntax professor getting my paycheck or something. Through the department secretary’s desk (illegal/unethical? Maybe, but so is denying a starving student his monthly paycheck. They want to make an issue of it, they can bite me where the sun don’t shine). Through the student assistant’s desk. Through every file in the cabinet (wow! my professors make bank!). Still nothing. So I roll back to payroll. “You owe me a check, something happened and it’s lost.”

“You’ll have to wait and talk to your department.”

“Department’s closed till the end of the month. I can’t wait that long. I don’t work for the sheer joy of dealing with pompous academic authors, I work to have money cause sleeping in the park gets cold and eating A4 paper gives me the runs.”

“There’s nothing I can do.”

“I’m coming back Monday. If my check isn’t in my hand by the time I leave that day I will file a complaint with the state and with the union, charge you 5,000% interest componded continuously on the money you’re illegally witholding from me, and do whatever else I can dream up to make your life hell, since I get to go through the weekend with $114 to my name and a $67 parking permit I have to buy today.”


“Have a nice weekend. See you Monday.”

Can you tell I have rage issues? And I went to Georgetown, I live for making incompetent boobs cry. God forbid they should suffer for making me suffer.

**Edited to add: they mailed the check to me. Thanks for letting me know that, kids! So disappointed I won’t be able to make any feeble minds cry tomorrow.


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