Wednesday 28 Sep 2016

Give and Take
Jennifer Flaten

Oh, it's payday. It's payday, the most fantastic day of the week.

Hmm, the envelope feels a little heavier then normal. Your curiosity gets the better of you and you rip the envelope open and discover to your surprise, that it contains not only a check but also something extra.

In fact, it contains two something extras to be precise and one neither of them is a layoff notice.

Hallelujah!

You lucky duck, your company has given you a holiday bonus in the form two gift-cards.

Both gift cards are for $50, one is for a grocery store and one is for gas. Wow, a bonus in this economy, you are stunned, how absolutely fantastic. You have $100 extra to spend on necessities. Yippee!! That will certainly ease the burden this Christmas.

Just as you are just starting to have warm fuzzy feelings about your employer, you unfurl the letter that accompanies the gift cards.

You begin scanning the letter, which starts innocuous enough, wishing your and yours seasonal joy etc. but as you get further into the letter you discover that your gift cards come with strings.

Yep, those fantastic pieces of plastic come with a little more then just goodwill. It seems your employer expects, nay, demands that you give one of your gift cards away.

According to your employer's missive, giving one gift card away will foster feelings of the season.

Well, you did have feelings of the season, until your employer started to jack you around. Now you are feeling down right homicidal, which really isn't conducive to a merry Christmas.

Well, call me crazy but that company is way out of line. How dare they give a gift to their employees and then dictate what the employee does with the gift.

Naturally, this little story made the local news. The piece featured the obligatory interview of the "ecstatic" employees. Interestingly enough there were only two employees interviewed and they all sounded like they were reading from a script.

They all expressed joy at this "opportunity" to share their bounty. Hell, what else did you expect them to say? It is not as if they can say what they are really thinking which is, that this sucks and what a kick in the ass.

I am pretty sure anyone speaking those sentiments will find themselves out on the pavement post haste. Christmas season be damned.

What kind of petty, punitive, controlling company is this, that they would give a "bonus" and then demand that the people give part of it away?

Of course, people want to be generous this time of year, and I would guess that some might have chosen to give away a gift card or donate to the charity of their choice because they had extra funds due to the gift card.

The most important part would be that they chose to do it; it wasn't the result of some corporate directive. Forcing someone to give to charity is just down right wrong.

If the company was so damned concerned about the community in general, why didn't they just donate to the food bank or Salvation Army and include a little note in the employee's paychecks explaining what they did.

Sure the employees would maybe grumble a little bit, like you do when your sister donates to the World Wildlife Fund in your name, but essentially you feel good about they whole thing.

I can't begin to fathom what it was like to be given that "gift", then told that I had to give it away.

Furthermore, I am wondering how exactly the company planned to enforce this...what if you didn't give one card away, would you be fired, maybe called into the office and written up? How was the company planning on dealing with someone who refused to do as they directed?

Then there is the whole question of how the company would find out you hadn't given a gift card away.

Is the company spying on the employees? Perhaps, the retailers are in on it and if you go to the gas station and the Piggly Wiggly, they report to the company that you blew the whole wad on yourself.

I think all the employees should band together and swap the cards among themselves, thus satisfying the company's asinine request that you "share the bounty" and ensuring that everyone still has one gas card and one grocery card.

That would indeed foster a sense of community and holiday spirit.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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