Friday, December 30, 2011

Being paid with gum or maybe with yard waste

Last night, two of my children and their spouses went to the opening conference basketball game UM vs Penn St. UM won; Tim Hardaway Jr. looked especially good and the half-time show consisting of women whose outfits changed in a second was entertaining. (see )With Maya between us, we watched at home. I was trying to get a glimpse of my former co-worker's son, but alas, no playing time for him. The tickets are part of Steve's compensation package for his duties as an election official for the city. The actual pay is quite low so this sort of makes up for it though Steve sees this more as a civic duty. Previous compensation hadcome in the form of a few rounds of golf at the city's greens and my favorite: a few bushels of compost from the city's yard waste  recycling program.

The former company that we both worked at liked to remind us regularly of how we are being compensated beyond the obvious cold, hard cash: health insurance, retirement, life insurance, subsidized cafeteria parking. The last item I thought was stretching things. the company was on the outskirts of town..of course they should provide parking. They might as well listed unlimited access to their waxy non-adsorbant toilet paper and the gallons of various flavors of mouthwash equipped with pumps lined up in every bathroom (the company used to own a well known mouthwash). Also unlisted or maybe it was..I threw out all those silly employee handbooks recently much to Steve's chagrin, was our company store in which we could buy, cheaply, just slightly out-of-date gum, antacids, mouthwash among other things. Also one at one time could purchase a pregnancy test for 25 cents. Such a deal. I used one of these bargains to detect Naomi. I think a positive test was the test strip turning pink. In my case, only one edge turned pink, most of it remained white. Although our control strip (Steve's) was all white, Steve wasn't that convinced my test was positive and I was fresh out of pee to confirm. Later that day a competitor's product purchased at the greatly inflated market price (I had access to medical supply catalogs..I knew how much these things were worth) indicated that I was indeed pregnant.

Another benefit that persists even now in retirement is free, prescription drugs made by the company. Somehow I have always had medical conditions specifically not treated by the company. Now it is true they have acquired the Red Devil but since it is only administered in the hospital, it is not considered a prescription drug.

Free parking. The same bit of land the company owned is now owned by UM. For UM parking lot fees seem to be a money making opportunity for them. The city is covered with various colored lots (the lots have various colors associated with their convenience and the price to have admission to these lots varies). Woe to those who overstay their welcome on University property. The tickets cost 4 times as much as city tickets do. So Steve now works on University property. One of  his few perks is getting a coveted Blue Pass. The only thing better would be a Gold pass. There are also yellow and orange and maybe green ones. I've been told that the Blue is worth $600.

The compensation package now for many chemists is that instead of being paid entirely with cash, one is paid with 'stock options'. These are essentially lottery tickets. It is a good business model in that you will do everything in your power to effect these things actually being worth something and they don't cost the company much. In my former company, you only got these things at a certain grade level (Steve just started to get them) or as  a reward for outstanding performance at my lowly level. The year that I was responsible for producing 10 % of the company's development candidates despite representing only a tenth of a percent of my fellow chemists, I was rewarded with a zillion options. In better years, these could have been parlayed into houses for my whole family but as it turned out, being given a stick of gum would have given me something more  tangible. My brother is paid with these lottery tickets. In his case, he won so miracles do happen.

As for the gum commercial in which I got my title, we did make that gum at one time but it was divested.

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