I Don’t Write Paychecks

David and I have owned and operated Magnus for 30 years. We have employed countless people, including many whose names have faded into obscurity. During all the years we have been in business, David and I have had different job duties. David’s job includes the administrative, finance, human resources, vendor relationship, and client liaison roles, with my job being limited to research and consulting duties. One of the many people David fired, in his human resources capacity on behalf of Magnus, returned to the office after her termination at a time when David was not present. She angrily barged into my office, demanding me to write her final paycheck “RIGHT NOW.” I reminded her of the long standing policy at Magnus of issuing employees their final paycheck on the payday immediately following their termination. This reminder made her more angry, causing her to raise her voice and threaten to call the police if I didn’t write her a check “RIGHT NOW.” I then decided to turn the situation around by asking her, in all the time she was employed by Magnus, if she had ever seen me write a paycheck or for that matter, any check at all. She thought about this for a few seconds and admitted she, in fact, had never seen me write a check, pay for anything with a credit card, or give anyone any cash. I told her she was correct and furthermore, I have never written one single check from the Magnus checkbook, I had no idea where the checks were located, and wherever they were located, they were under lock and key inside David’s office. I calmly explained to her that, although I could appreciate her frustration at being fired and wanting to be paid, I had never had access to the corporate checkbook. I then hurried her out the door, lest she still be in the office when David arrived, and assured her that her check would be sent to her as soon as possible. As of this writing, 15 or 20 years later, I have no idea of the name of this former employee, I still haven’t written a paycheck, and I have yet to make any financial arrangements on behalf of Magnus. But, I am still working as hard as I can doing what I do best, that is, providing excellent research and consulting services to Magnus’ clients.

Terminating employees is one of the least pleasant tasks I have.  Even when an employee has done something blatantly wrong and is deserving of immediate termination, knowing the ramifications for the employee it is difficult, to do so.  I hope most people who have the power of termination feel that way.  Yet, we’ve had some who were bad enough I wish we could have clawed back what we paid them!  I don’t recall either who this employee was, but we had another one recently who got angry when she was told we no longer needed her services.  Fortunately, it was just the two of us on the conversation thus, she was talking to the “HR department” and it worked out.  I guess there are some dishonest employers who cheat former workers out of a paycheck, but that’s not what we do.  Melissa and I long ago agreed on an internal division of labor.  She does her work, the “real work” as she will tell you, because it pays. And, I do mine, switching hats for the various “departments” I manage many times a day.  In the incident Melissa wrote about, it was interesting that the employee did not comprehend this division of labor.  Her lack of awareness was likely one of the reasons she was terminated. Her outburst also ensured that it would be best for her not to use Magnus as a reference.


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