Pass The Collection Plate

Something myself and I am quite sure, most other administrative workers, tackle on a daily basis, are expense reports. Basically this means dealing with the reimbursing of dollars spent, to a bunch of people who are already richer than a hypothetical Bill Gates/Warren Buffet sandwich (now there’s a particularly repellant thought!).

Not that I am against people being paid the money they are owed – au contraire, mes amis! If you spend your own money in the process of conducting company business, the company should naturally reimburse those costs to you. It’s a great theory and one that seems quite straightforward and sensible but instead, seems to confuse people by its vast scope of possibility.

You see, I have noticed during my years slaving for mentally-scattered, workaholic people who are too important to deal with such things themselves, that the higher the title an executive holds, ultimately the more ridiculous the claims for compensation become.

For example, at my last job we often had a bunch of junior associates traveling on company business to clients’ offices to discuss plans and give new idea presentations and low level things like that. Most of them would return, exhausted and bleary-eyed, thrust a few grubby cab receipts and a hotel bill in my hand then slope off to sleep under their desks till lunchtime.

Now a similar scenario, only with someone of a much higher rank like say…a Vice President or Senior Associate, is quite different. They will present approximately one ton of expense receipts to you in an industrial sized wheelbarrow towed by a team of thirsty, grunting huskies. The receipts will be in no coherent order, either by type or date and they will have nothing to indicate exactly when the expense occurred, who it involved, where they were going or what indeed it was for. They will then get hostile and mutter and groan profusely when asked for this information, sort of like a normal person’s reaction to being asked to lie in a pile of steaming horse manure.

In fact, there will be receipts for every penny that left the executive’s wallet, from the standard hotel room and taxi from the airport, right down to some gum they bought at the airport, the viewing of Busty Blondes Backdoor Bonanza they rented in their hotel room to “relax” and the beers they bought in the hotel bar as a nightcap. Maybe there will be a receipt in there for toiletries because Lord knows they couldn’t possibly bring their own toothpaste and deodorant from home, because the overload would crash the plane.

Then sometimes, as my boss did recently, they will consider it entirely reasonable to present a receipt for a sweater they purchased because it was, “chilly on the beach at the video shoot”. Gee, I would think that knowing you are doing a shoot, at night, on a beach, for several hours, in March, you might have considered packing something heavier than a tank-top, but that’s just me. And having forgotten to do this, I would presume, being in a major city you’d maybe…I don’t know…nip into The Gap to pick up a cheap hoodie or something instead of a designer store where you purchased a $200 cashmere. But then, I am obviously very naïve.

One of my ex-bosses, a young, thin, weaselly guy, with a predilection for striped seersucker suits in summer (try saying it three times fast!), used to present me with the stupidest receipts he demanded to be paid for. Instead of having me follow company protocol and rent him an Avis car for the trip (intermediate size, standard everything) he would go there in person and rent a sports convertible. He would routinely upgrade hotel rooms to suites (another thing we were not supposed to do, especially a comparatively junior executive like him). He would expense everything from a pen he bought when he needed to scribble something on a flight ($56), to a candy bar (89c). He once expensed a change of clothing, including a $100 tie, as he was staying more than two days. I was a little stunned that no one told him you could take clothes with you.

I see people routinely go for expensive lunches or dinners with friends then attempt to claim back the cost by claiming it was business oriented in some roundabout, far fetched way. I see people leave work at 5:30pm then present a cab receipt with a time on it of 2am with a note saying “cab home, working late” scribbled on the back. I see people present claims for every single little thing they spend money on during work hours no matter how absurd. I see people expense their $12,000 a year country club membership because they might one day entertain a client there..

Then suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks. I am the stupid one. This sort of over-the-top anal claiming of every penny is exactly why all these people are richer than a small nation while I’m using the pennies that collect in my office supplies drawer to buy a cup of coffee.

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6 Responses to “Pass The Collection Plate”

  1. katrocket Says:

    That is really hilarious stuff, especially the jr. exec expensing his change of clothes. I’ve seen some crazy receipts over the years too, including one bravely stupid woman who tried to claim her children’s daycare because “if I wasn’t working here, I wouldn’t have to pay for a babysitter.” The company decided she would make a pretty good babysitter cuz they canned her.

    And incidentally, I got canned a couple days ago too. Details on my blog – now I can dish on all the assholes I used to work for, too!

  2. The Guv'ner Says:

    Oh MAN, that sucks big!!!! I am so going there right now.

    I can’t wait for the delicious dish. The more nasty the better. Fuckers!

  3. pistols at dawn Says:

    I just don’t think I could ever do this. I would think, “Ah, I make enough money, I’ll just suck it up.” Except for porn, because work keeps me so busy that I can’t find a lady, so they can at least subsidize the results.

    I hate that people get so impatient about their reimbursement checks being cut after waiting three months to submit their receipts.

    I totally want an expensed candy bar right now.

  4. Bert, the Deductible Banana Says:

    I was audited by the IRS on my expense reimbursements. They wanted to see if I could substantiate the expenses as being work related, and thus not income. I was married to a very, very anal woman at that time and she had EVERYTHING nailed down tight as a drum and we were in and out in under 20 minutes.

    Nice lady, but I still don’t miss her.

  5. The Guv'ner Says:

    I think really Mr. Pleasant Deductible Banana, that I’m really deep down, bitter that I don’t get to expense a damn thing and continue to pay for my indulgences. I should expense my metrocard as I only have it to get to work and could argue that it’s for WORK, no?

    No. 🙂

  6. The Guv'ner Says:

    I have one lady who gives me receipts from September in like…JUNE. Then gets crabby when the finance department get pissed off and start asking questions. They’re not even receipts, they’re MILEAGE amounts she travels FOR work that they reimburse at a certain rate per mile so there is no physical proof to go with them. She gets bent about this even though it’s perfectly reasonable to be a little annoyed at the six month time lapse between the expense and its submission.

    This response was so boring I’m now going to kill myself.

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