So, about 4 weeks ago, I was all excited because I was going to be able to stop the “out of work” clock. I had a job. Sure, it was a temp gig, but there was allegedly a good chance that I was going to get hired.
I should have had an inkling from the get-go that things were NOT going to go as I had envisioned. I got there and they had no chair for me and my desk was, well, still in it’s pre-assembled format. Great. No phone system, no copier, not even a printer. Oh, and I had been asked to bring my own laptop. In hindsight, this should have been a HUGE red flag. Nay, it should have been my signal to turn around and walk back out the door.
Around 10AM, I got treated to an impassioned speech about how I had better be prepared to sign on for the long haul and that they didn’t want someone who was just going to leave again in short order and that they were concerned, given my background, that I was not someone who was going to stick around. (Insert my eyeroll here… you pay me, I’ll stay).
The week ended and all seemed well. I was learning how things worked and things seemed, well, fine. Except that there was still no phone system and, apparently, no plan in place to get one. At this point I brought in office supplies from home and was mortified whenever we had visitors to the office because there was nary a chair for them to sit in. I was still fighting the gut instinct to run.
Week two came to a close. I submitted my invoice so I would be paid and… was told that I could have a check for ONE week that day and I would DEFINITELY get the balance by Wednesday of the following week. Like a completely naive idiot, I accepted that but honestly, I was LIVID.
Week three started…. I am starting to sense some panic. I am starting to sense more than a little tension. Wednesday rolls around… NO PAYCHECK. Then Thursday… NO PAYCHECK. Friday comes and there’s no one in the office except me. I start imagining the landlord having me thrown in jail because of bills racking up and the “boss” is nowhere to be found. Boss finally comes in for about 2 whole minutes, grudgingly hands me a check with a speech about how HE is working for free. Well, my friend, I CAN’T work for free.
Week four begins. There is an odd tension in the air. Around noon we have a meeting with an offsite colleague via teleconference. And then I get told that they cannot afford to continue paying me. They love my work. They want me to stay on but… there is just no budget for it. Now, the LOGICAL and ETHICAL thing that would follow that conversation is that I would be handed a check for Week 3 (which I have ALREADY WORKED), I hand them my key and I go on my merry way.
But, alas… that is NOT what happened. The boss left for a meeting (and was gone for the rest of the day). I had no check in hand and, frankly, no promise that there was a check forthcoming. It is now almost Friday again and I STILL DON’T HAVE A PAYCHECK. The law in my state dictates that involuntarily terminated employees (that would be me) are entitled to their final paycheck WITHIN SIX CALENDAR DAYS.
Believe me, it’s not going to be pretty if I don’t get a call tomorrow telling me I can come and pick up my check. (Nevermind that it will be over 2 hours of commute time for me to get there and back home).
You know, I really want to believe the best about people and this is the sort of thing that happens to people like me. Be wise, get everything in writing, document EVERYTHING and don’t walk out the door without your final check in hand.
Have a great weekend. I will likely spend mine drafting legal papers to collect my check. Wish me luck!