Vol. 19 •Issue 7 • Page 9
Letters to the Editor
Confessions of an Overtime Hound
TO THE EDITOR:
Before becoming an X-ray tech, I worked in industrial construction. When I took my first job at $2.75 an hour in 1973 my father advised me, “Work all the overtime you can. The time will come when you will need the extra money and wish you had.” Those words became my work creed. After working my way to $3.25 an hour, with overtime and some creative deductions in bookkeeping, my weekly net salary was greater than the master craftsmen making $5 an hour.
In my pre-radiographic life, I lived for plant shutdowns where 84 hours per week was normal. After working 7-12s for months, being reduced to the standard 5-8 felt like having a part time job. When “fitness for duty” was introduced, at some job sites, hours were reduced to 72 hours per week.
As a new tech, I hit the tech shortage of a few years back at its peak. It was not uncommon for me to work 7Ð12s or more. Working the night shift, if I could not sleep, I would go into work early. The rest of the hospital staff was on overtime restrictions but radiology had an abundance of overtime for anyone who wanted it, and I wanted it.
After six months, I was getting a little burned out and cut back from seven days a week to six days. My personal best was 88 hours in six days and that was without sleeping on the job. The fourth day of that run, a co-worker covered for me and I laid down on an exam table for about 30 minutes, but I was too hyper to get comfortable.
When paychecks came around I seldom even looked at the stubs. If I did it was only to review the bottom line. I would give my unopened check stubs to my wife who also likes her overtime (and mine too). I could say I lived a carefree life: my wife minds my money, my neighbors mind my business and that left me alone to work. Having someone else minding the books can be a bit awkward. One company made an error and no state taxes were deducted. Even though it was their error, I do not think they believed me when I told them in nine months I never looked at my pay stub.
Recently, I noticed two of my check stubs that were not filed away. At a passing glance, the bottom line was nearly the same amount. This could not be right, one check was supposed to have an extra eight hours of straight time. We are paid eight hours for a holiday and an additional eight hours of straight pay for working a holiday. Calculating the difference, my regular salary and the additional eight hours was $14. While my co-workers were enjoying Thanksgiving dinner and watching football, I was earning $1.75 an hour. This was $1 less per hour than when I started working in 1973.
They say you cannot teach an old hound new tricks. In this case, when it comes to an extra eight hours of straight holiday pay, I think I am going to let the younger pups have it.
–Name Withheld Upon Request