A Step Too Far

This story goes back to maybe 1970. At the time I lived in the Washington DC area. I lived in suburban Maryland. I worked as the Payroll Manager for the “Peoples Drug Store” Chain headquartered for Peoples drugs was in D.C. Two of my sisters also lived in suburban D.C. in Virginia Ruth In Alexander and Evelyn in Arlington. Ruth sometimes cared for my oldest daughter Gina who was a toddler. Evelyn’s home was our family hub.

The office for Peoples Drug Store where payroll was produced was in N.W. DC and was right across the street from The chain warehouse where 125 employees worked. The People’s Management had decided to the warehouse workers a 27 cents an hour raise. That meant that on average the warehouse workers would go from $2.55 an hour wage so they were to be earning $2.82 an hour. Their checks were written in the same office facility where I worked. Remember, all this happened a long time ago when these salaries were decent.

The numbers given here are my best memory of of back then but the point of this stories remains.The computer system of that time was punched paper card systems. People’s had stores in 19 states scattered across the east of the U.S. with a few thousand employees. All the payroll check production happened in the building where I worked.

The problem was that when the people who punched the holes in the computers paper cards punched the cards punched the holes in the column to the left. That meant that the folks that worked in the warehouse who were expect a nice raise in their pay checks got paychecks which were computed at the rate of $28.2 cents an hour.

All the warehouse employees knew where the paymasters office was and every one of those people wanted to insult me personally. They literally lined up in single file waiting to have their turn to tell me what an idiot I was. They were not content just calling me an idiot. Each person wanted to pick and choose between the various different ways they could think of to say “George, you are an idiot”the whole time they waited for their checks to be reissued.

By the end of that day I was brain numbed from emotional exhaustion. I counted the minutes it was going to take me to get home and get love from my sister Ruthie and and my infinetly welcoming toddler Gina. When we finally were relaxed around the dinner table Ruth and Gina pushed their water glasses across the table to get their glasses filled. I lovingly picked up the water pitcher and poured each of them water and poured their water exactly in the middle on the tablecloth between their glasses.

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