Monday, August 06, 2012

Sorry Brook, I don't have money to pay you this month


April 2012
Our office, they didn't have a pc for me, I used my own

The job in China fell through. Back to the drawing board. Good thing I hadn’t told my colleagues or anybody about it really. Only my family knew. I secretly wanted to go to China even as a tourist to see for myself if I couldn’t get a job whilst there. I had talked to a few people that teach English there, they told me it’s not hard finding a job once you are there in person. I was tempted. But I had to play it safe.
By this time, I’d been working for my boss for 2 months.  I had been on probation for my week whereby they’d see if I got along with everybody as I was the only outsider in a family company. Everybody  was a breeze to work with, except for the boss, but she wasn’t always there.
By the end of the month, they asked me if I was going to need any money, if so, how much. I found that interesting because I had worked my hinds off all month proving to them that I was an asset to the company. We had talked about the salary at the interview. I told them that I would have been happy with whatever salary was market related. They had a PA (Personal Assistant), they had to know what was market related for a PA. You’d think! I told them that I was renting an apartment, I had to pay rent, groceries, insurances etc, and I had bills to pay! They told me this was a permanent job, of course I went and signed a lease for the apartment! Boss was out of town. She called me.  Normally she was very mean to me on the phone or in person for that matter, so much for a pastor and a life coach. She was so nice to me that time around on the phone. She asked to speak to the old PA. Thereafter, the PA told me that there was no money to pay mu, but they had R1 500 (less than $200) COUNT IT! For   Ice Cream. They would pay me a salary the next week. I had bills to pay and no time to be buying R1 500 worth of ice cream! I went home so confused. Wondering what would happen next. What if they didn’t pay me the following week and the following month! Whew! So much for getting a new job. I went over to my sister’s to chill. I needed to be around people that cared about me.
The view from the dining room/conference room

Boss kept calling to confirm my banking details, she wanted to deposit the ice cream money. She was so nice to me the entire time on the phone.
My landlord was a journalist, she was very nice to me. I lived next door to them and 4 houses from my work, which was also the boss’ house.  She worked from home. I told her about my work situation. She told me she was willing to help me put my boss on blast if I gave her some material to work with. I thought I’d give them until the following week, to see if they would fulfil their promise. The following week, I got R700 from the Boss’ son, he told me that’s all he had in his account. PA’s husband who also works there, had a long, meaningless talk with me one day on my way home. He told me that he knows what it’s like to be in my shoes: to struggle to make a living (WTF’s dude talking about? I’ve got a job! They just won’t pay me! There’s a difference!) He told me how he used to be a waiter, homeless, sleeping in public toilets. I was thinking this dude had better not be suggesting I should move out of my comfortable apartment and go sleep in public restrooms, seriously now!
All I got for the rest of my second month at work where promises that the company was expecting millions of rand, and I’d be paid then. NEVER HAPPENED!

Conference Room/Dining room

In March, my second month at the company, I was kind of offered a promise of a better job: Human Resources of the Bloemfontein Plant. Go figure! This people can’t afford me a PS’s salary, now they want to promote me! How much more money do they want to not pay me? I had to spend days on the internet doing research and things for my new position. I was booking flights for the boss to fly all over the country. Here I am, still waiting for the rest of my salary for the previous salary and this woman is gallivanting all over the show. I booked deluxe hotel rooms for wedding attendance, and all sorts of things. The telephone bill came and she paid R1 000 ($125) extra. I was like, are you kidding me? Why doesn’t she give that to me! The following month, she did the same thing, paid extra for the telephone bill. I just didn’t get that! The entire month of March, I was so discouraged and angry.
Two days before payday, boss lady, who had been out of town for weeks called and spoke to the PA. She told her that they didn’t have money to help me out with my bills, she suggested I move in with them. She would pay me the following week. I told her, even though I’d love to move in with them (which I wouldn’t have), It was two days before my rent was due, I’d have to give my landlady more notice than that, two months to be precise. She said, well try anyway, don’t tell them the real reason, just tell them that something came up and you have to move out urgently. Uhm, ok Reverend, I will do that! I’ll go and lie to my landlord who has been nothing but nice to me! Who has also agreed to help bring you down should you not pay me again this month. 

The following day, I don’t them that the landlord doesn’t mind if I stay or not, as long as I pay them for the following two months as per lease. They were like, ‘What?!?!?!? What exactly did you say to them?!?!?!?!?” I was thinking, it seems as if this is not the first time these people are doing this. It looks as if it’s worked for them every single time but this time around. That’s why they were shocked. Oh well!  The boss told me what my salary would be from that onwards, unfortunately she would only pay me the following week, a week late. My question to the PA was, if they knew for a fact that they were going to pay me the following week, why should I move out of my apartment? I could just ask them to wait a few more days and that’s it. Right? Wrong!
Stairway from our office to the Boss'

I was so stressed out, my whole body hurt, I had headaches that wouldn’t go away. I still had Georgia on my mind, that was a disaster, and now I am here this is not so much of a great experience either! Should I go to China? So many thoughts on my mind! Should I quit? I just moved here from the Eastern Cape! Should I go back there and job-hunt until I find something else? Should I stick around? Will they ever pay me?
I put in notice at the flat while I was on a week’s leave. The PA who was going to fill in for while she was on maternity was still working. For some reason, the baby was not coming. The due date came and went. While I was on sick leave, they deposited R4 000 ($500) into my account. Still not enough, in fact, that plus the money they gave me the previous still didn’t cover the pay they promised. I cut my losses and quit. It was hard, I loved everyone I worked with but couldn’t shake the feeling this was just a cult where they reel you in with their kindness and never ever pay you. All you get is kindles from Boss lady every month end! Sadly, that didn’t pay the bills. Everybody didn’t understand why I quit. It’s like where the heck do these people come from? I don’t offer volunteering services! I need to get paid! I spent the entire month of April, job hunting, going for interviews, applying for jobs abroad, the works.

I bought myself a new laptop a week before payday thinking I was going to get paid