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Stiffed a few quid upon leaving a job


Early 2004, Kilkenny Ireland —

I can not even count the number of times that an employer has tried to stiff me that little bit of wage at the end of employment.

I was just rereading the file "quitting the boulangerie," about an industrial "gourmet" bakery where I worked in Dublin, and it made me reminisce about that last pay packet, the one that the owner of the business tried to lighten by a thin few quid.

I can count in my memory two other times. That's three, total — but I'd forgotten that it had happened at the Boulangerie, so God knows there may have been others.

It happened at Breathnach's in Kilkenny, Ireland, and at Cafe Helder in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. At Breathnach's, they came up short by 2 ½ hours' wage. At Helder, it was 12. Twelve euro. The proprietor slapped the tenner and a coin on the counter, too. She wasn't happy I'd said anything about it.

What is it about business owners? Have they no scrupples? No shame? Are they conditioned to think they ought to chisel people, because they can — because most people won't say anything? Are they so tight that they'd chance it for the possible benefit of a bit of loose change?

Naturally, it would be decent to admit that sometimes the error may genuinely be an error. But I've just seen it too many times — I've seen it happen to others, as well. Too many times, just a little short. Just short enough that one might be tempted to say nothing, and be glad it's all over. But not me. Glad it's over, yeah.

I have to mention that I've never been given just a little bit too much, in that final pay-packet. I would remember that, if it had ever happened — and it hasn't.

While writing this, I remembered another example. It happened at Kyteler's in Kilkenny, too. €37.50. It's uncanny. It's as if these folks talk to each other — it's like a trade secret.