Once upon a time there was a waitress who was good at math. She worked ten hour days seven days a week. Her hourly wages were very low but her tips were decent. When she received her first paycheck she knew exactly how much it ought to be but when she opened it, she saw that they hadn’t given her any overtime.
She finished her opening duties with 10 minutes to spare and went upstairs to talk to the office manager. The office manager reminded the waitress very much of a crocodile. She had yellow gleaming eyes behind cat-eye glasses and lipstick that stretched across her wide, wide mouth. The waitress voiced her concern that no overtime had been added to her paycheck.
“No.” the office manager said simply, slowly turning in her office chair to face the girl, “overtime gets calculated over two weeks. You’ve been here two weeks but this pay check is only for the first week.”
The girl saw that it was true; she had worked 70 hours in one week and there was no overtime allotted. She really needed the job so she bit her tongue and walked out of the office.
The job was fast paced and difficult but she was a great waitress and soon she was helping run food even though she had the most tables. She felt a kind of magic pulsing within her when she worked. She never missed the trash can, never spilled a drop. Her gracious smile put customers at ease when they were worried. Food always got to her tables just as the customers started to look for it. Nothing was ever burned or cooked wrong.
Her tips were always over 20% of the tab and the other girls in the restaurant loved her. Whenever she was around their tables also went smoothly.
But on her fourth week, she received her second paycheck. She studied the document carefully. During a two week pay period she had worked 140.21 hours. She had not had a single day off. She received a wage of $2.15 per hour. She had claimed quite a lot in tips and most of her hourly wages had gone to pay taxes. In the column marked “Overtime” there was nothing. She thought about the insignificant amount of money to everyone involved. She thought about the slimy injustice of it. She was about to go talk to the manager but the restaurant was opening. She was very busy and didn’t get a break until close and by that time the office manager had left for the day.
The next day she showed up early to speak with the crocodile woman. She went into the office but no one was there. The lights were off but the safe was wide open. The waitress was a good person, ultimately. But on this day she looked over her shoulder, leaned down, and took the $62 she was owed.
Later that day she turned in her two weeks.