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Millionaires – with benefits

“We’re going to be MILLIONAIRES!” husband-head announced gleefully as he barged through the front door after work.”Really?” I asked, clapping my hands with joy. “Did you win the Lotto or something? Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!”Before I could make plans to quit my job, arrange for a trip to Tahiti and get online to shop, husband-head stopped me.”No, actually we’re not going to be millionaires … but we almost were,” he admitted.My face fell in disappointment.”Something went wrong with our bookkeeper’s computer software and it cut me a paycheck this week for $1.6 million,” he explained. “It cut her a check for $380,000 and she was mad that it gave me more money than her.”I was mad that we weren’t going to get the money.The next day I called the bookkeeper at his office to find out when the real paychecks would be issued.”You know, we’ll take the first one so you don’t have to do payroll all over again,” I said hopefully.”I’ll bet you will,” she agreed. “I had to call the software company and let them know I had a payroll for 13 people that came out to $2.4 million.”And the problem is …?”We need to spend $650,” I informed husband-head when he came home the next day. “I told you, that check was a mistake,” husband-head said, looking somewhat alarmed. “We’re not millionaires.”I was talking about an annual recreation reimbursement program my company generously offers its employees as a benefit.”It can be used for recreational activities such as skiing, swimming lessons, yoga, gym memberships, golf or exercise equipment,” I read from the manual. “The guideline for recreation reimbursement is that the items that you purchase must relate to personal recreation, health and wellness at least 80 percent of the time.”The program works where the employee submits a request for reimbursement of an item or service and an all-knowing committee decides whether it falls under their definition of “recreation.”Husband-head thought about it for a moment.”What if your idea of recreation is different from the ones they describe?” he said as the little wheels in his head began to turn.I was pretty sure $650 worth of beer wouldn’t make the list …Husband-head’s eyes narrowed.”It says ‘personal recreation’ and ‘exercise’, doesn’t it?” he challenged. “So, could we, like, buy a new bed? I can think of some recreational activities for that.””It says it has to be used for recreation 80 percent of the time,” I pointed out. “You’re setting some awfully lofty goals for yourself there, mister.””Well, it’d be fun to try,” husband-head shrugged. “Personally, I also think of sleep as a recreational activity. Besides, how would they know? Are the recreation reimbursement police going to come and check up on us?”But the idea opened up a whole new line of thinking as to what might or might not be used for “recreation” – adult toys, Fredericks of Hollywood outfits, inflatable sheep, whips, chains, videos …”They’re probably counting on the embarrassment factor to prevent you from submitting receipts for those purchases,” I suggested. “Still, it’d be kind of funny to see what happens.”A recreation allowance check and a pink paycheck …”I wonder if a new bathing suit from Victoria’s Secret would fall under the ‘swimming’ category?” I mused out loud to husband-head.”Yeah, that would probably take up the entire $650,” husband-head agreed.”I think hobbies are included, too,” I remembered with excitement. “I could say that I collect silver dollars and buy 650 of them. After being reimbursed, I’d have $1,300!”Husband-head had a better idea.”Maybe they’ll just screw up and issue you a check for $1.6 million …”Heidi Rice is a reporter for the Post Independent. Her column appears every Friday. Visit her Web site at http://www.heidirice.com.


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