The first real job that I ever held was working for McDonald’s during the summer before I began high school. My memory is admittedly a bit rusty, but as I recall, I was paid the princely sum of $1.10 per hour for my labors at making milk shakes and taking orders from customers at the walk-up windows. This was before McDonald’s provided a place for its patrons to sit and eat. When, half way through the summer, the manager gave me a $0.05 per hour raise; I thought I had really arrived!
This job, and various summer jobs like it, were my only opportunities to ever receive overtime pay for my work. Immediately after completing college, I entered the work force in a management position which excluded me from being paid at a rate of “time and a half” for the hours I put in.
Every position I held for the next 34 years was categorized as Exempt by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which meant, among other things, that employers didn’t have to compensate me for overtime. I will quickly add that the FLSA didn’t preclude my working over eight hours in a day or forty hours in a week, it just implied that I was already being adequately compensated for any hours worked above and beyond.
Anyway, fast forward 34 years. In late 2007, I found myself in a state of unexpected and unwanted early retirement; this generation’s version of the gold watch which many of our fathers and grandfathers received at the end of their working careers.
For the next five years, I took just about any (and every) job I could find. If you’ve been keeping up with current events, you will recall that the employment landscape during that period was roughly equivalent to the Gobi Desert, a cold, empty, and forbidding place.
The jobs that I found ranged from window washer, to carpet tile remover, to courier, to elementary school art work framer. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately depending on one’s perspective, none of these jobs required that I work overtime; that is over eight hours in a day or forty hours in one week. It will also come as no surprise that none of these positions were very well compensated. They simply provided enough in wages to allow for the occasional cup of tea, or in my case the occasional glass of sweet iced tea. You might say that a cup of tea isn’t really my cup of tea, as the saying goes.
Fortunately, my sojourn across the employment desert ended about a month ago. I now have a job which provides me with full time employment, very nice working conditions, and the eligibility to receive overtime pay. My old nemesis, the FLSA, now recognizes me as Nonexempt. Hallelujah!
I worked this past Saturday, after already putting in a full week of eight-hour days. You guessed it, Saturday’s hours were classified as “more than forty hours in a work week“. Overtime! The Mother Lode!
I think I’ll go have myself a big glass of sweet iced tea.