Topic ID #37823 - posted 12/20/2016 5:35 AM

A little Christmas cheer


Christmas of Yore

Come on, you young techs, gather ‘round here by the fire, and I will tell you stories of Christmas seasons of long ago. You see, when your wise old Pappy was a field archaeologist, we used to get per diem in cash, every Sunday evening. We got money to eat with and to pay for a cheap single room. I know, it is hard to believe. Cash money, in advance, no receipts, no reimbursements, no expense reports. I swear, I am not making this up.

Oh, good question. What would happen if we got rained out? Did we have to give money back? Ah, foolish child, you never gave back per diem. You simply worked extra hours on the other days of the week, and you kept your full per diem. Another good question; you kids are sharp. What if it rained Friday morning? Well, then you just went back and worked extra hours on the prior Monday through Thursday. You never gave back per diem.

And when Christmas approached, everybody got the festive feeling and wanted to come out of the field with extra cash. Keep in mind that you got the same money no matter what you spent. So, we saw a lot of double and even triple rooms – the dreaded rollaway – in November and early December. And you could come home with an extra $100-150 each week, tax free. Ah, what a joyous time.

And if you were really sneaky, or if you had OD on your crew, you learned to drive down to a project very early on Monday morning, rather than Sunday night. Yep, that’s right, so you did not have to pay for a room on Sunday night. It made for a long day on Monday, but you had even more extra cash when all was said and done.

Of course, this was all long ago, before the twin scrooges of Scott Jones and the IRS decided cash per diem was susceptible to abuse (and I don’t know where they got that idea).

Ah, the amazing things this Old Timer has seen in his life.

Merry Christmas everybody!


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