when i started working full-time there were the requisite salary negotiations. where i work, “reviews” only happen once a year, therefore raises only happen once a year. i, and probably everyone else, have consistently gotten the shaft in terms of appropriate pay; the price of working at a small company. i made more hourly while working part-time in college than i did when i became a full-time contract employee after graduation. i did not receive a raise upon becoming an actually full-time employee. in fact, the first offer extended to me was considerably lower than my yearly salary as a contractor. eventually i insisted upon a raise, citing past pay cuts (which i’m sure i wasn’t supposed to notice). i asked for a very fair amount, especially since some people unexpectedly quit and left their salaries (which were each higher than what i was getting) behind. thusly, my salary was “raised” to the same amount as when i was a contractor. granted, i did gain excellent health insurance, etc…but still. i mean, you’re kidding me right?

i agreed to this “new amount” contingent upon a review and $2000 raise in 5 months. this seemed pretty generous on my part, since this future amount was still probably less than what i could’ve earned elsewhere. i am a loyal, if crotchety, employee and despite other crappy things happening around that time, i was not willing to abandon the company and coworkers that were my chicago family.

the time for the review came and went and i decided not to push things by asking, “what happened to our deal?” or something similar. other more pressing worries were at work in my non-professional life and i needed to get through one obstacle at a time.

i collected my paycheck every month (only one time a month) as usual. as always, i didn’t look at the amount until i was depositing the check (i think it’s sort of rude and tacky to rip into it at work in front of everyone). i noticed that the amount seemed different. i couldn’t tell what was different, that is whether the number was higher or lower than usual, just that the number didn’t look the same as before. i thought nothing of this, attributing the discrepancy to adjusted taxes or the like. yesterday i received my paycheck and as usual, set it aside to deposit later on. then i remembered that odd change in numbers. so i opened my check at my desk (gasp!) and proceeded to do the ol’ multiplication. the amount was different all right. what did i find?

i’d been given my 5 month raise. and nothing had been said about it. i was shocked.

you see, the shocking thing was not that i was kept in the dark about my move up the payscale – this office has the worst communication ever. instant messenger and email are the norm. did i mention that a new employee showed up one day and no one knew that he was coming in (or even that someone new had been hired, much less what he was supposed to do all day)?

what really shocked me was that i was given the raise at all. yes everyone, my post-9/11, mid-bush-administration, post-graduate “i-worked-hard-and-went-to-college-so-where’s-that-promised-job/prosperity/opportunity?”, 21st century 20-somthing cynicism has been so honed to perfection, so successfully cultivated, that i was shocked that anyone kept up his end of a bargain without incessant prodding and nothing short of a court order. if that isn’t a sad statement about the world my generation has been thrust into, i don’t know what is.