Jeff rapped his knuckles against the glass pane of the payroll department door. He brushed inside at the welcoming, “Come in.”
“I have a problem on my paycheck.”
“Yeah, I was shorted my quarterly bonus.”
The clerk’s face flamed, and her eyes flitted toward the other clerk in the room. They exchanged a look that Jeff didn’t like.
“What’s the deal?” he said, wary of the tension in the room.
The woman’s expression looked stricken. She cleared her throat, and stumbled to get her words out. “We aren’t, well, we can’t, what I mean is — we aren’t giving bonuses this quarter.”
Jeff blew up. “Excuse me? Lady, I don’t think I heard you right. We always get a quarterly bonus.”
“Not this time. We can’t afford it.”
“This is some kind of joke, right?” Jeff felt his blood turn cold. “I counted on this money.”
“I understand, and I’m sorry.” The clerk crinkled her mouth and furrowed her brows, in a look of genuine compassion. “No one got one this quarter.”
“What am I supposed to do about the bills I was going to pay with it?”
Looking once again across the room before speaking, the clerk took a deep breath before answering. “Remember, it is a bonus, based on company as well as individual performance. Business fell off a bit. You should never count on this money, it’s meant to be something extra.”
“But I’ve gotten one every quarter for three years. Why wouldn’t I count on my bonus?” Jeff knew fear had driven him to whine. He hated the sound of it in his voice.
“I am sorry. But there is nothing I can do. A bonus is just that, something beyond your normal pay.”
Jeff left the office dejected and afraid. He headed back to work sick over the sacrifices he’d need to make just to get by.
Have you faced the loss of money you counted on when you needed it to pay the bills? How did you get by?