Wednesday, November 17, 2010

misbehavior at the Muni

Today I want to talk a little bit about the convoluted employment structure here at my Municipality. Apparently, there are a number of people on our payroll who do absolutely no work. Literally. They simply stand around the front steps, jabbering and shaking hands with each other, asking me for English lessons or confirmations of stories they’ve heard about the United States (I always oblige). The thing is, I just thought they had nothing better to do. I never questioned their earnest presence, wacky clothing or friendly manner – I’ve only been here two weeks and I just thought they just wanted to hang out. It really didn’t occur to me why they showed up everyday. Then someone explained it to me: they’re paid to be here. At the same time, whether they or anyone here actually does any work isn’t really an issue, given that my Municipality is apparently two months behind schedule in wages. But I’ll get to that later.

Basically, there are non-working people on our payroll because a bunch were fired without due process, but in an interesting twist, are still required to show up for work. The way I hear it, one guy was a horrendous drunk, coming into the office inebriated and missing at least 15 days of work, but he was simply dismissed and noone had thought to document his actions, to construct a written record that would validate his firing. So now he hangs around our office, a bloodshot eye and a bellicose voice, making asinine comments and smiling frequently.

Another employee, only recently returned to the office, supposedly slept with a town council member. Her husband eventually burst into the Muni to confront the Lothario and it left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Of course, she was savvy enough to realize that the circumstances definitely didn’t merit her being fired, and that a trip to the Ministry of Labor and a few complaints would get her what turned out to be two months vacation at full pay. Now she’s back at her old desk with a sheepish look, readjusting to work while just sitting around or surfing the web.

A third guy apparently didn’t do anything wrong, but was victimized by some “corporate reorganization.” Two administrations ago, which would be sometime in the early 2000’s, our buddy had a job running the municipal warehouse. Everything was working out fine – he showed up for work on time, did his job and made everyone happy. One day, however, someone decided to close the warehouse down, which posed a problem seeing that our buddy’s title stipulated, unequivocally, that he was the municipal warehouse manager. Hence, he’s on the payroll (and will remain there) until there’s a warehouse to run.

Ok, that last story sounds completely nuts, but I swear I asked my co-worker for clarification a couple of times just to make sure it wasn’t my Spanish.)

Anyway, so people are getting paid to stand around. I don’t get it. As for the unpaid wages, I guess my mayor is neck deep in a bunch of different projects and owes money all over the place; my sense is that she didn’t take a very organized approach to budgeting.

And on a completely separate note, I saw a cockroach crawling on the inner lip of a hot water thermos in my house today. First I was shocked, then amused – I’ve drunk significant amounts of instant coffee made from that thermos.


  1. "smiling frequently"... His new job title can be Chief Morale Booster.

  2. Seriously...and now that the organigrama (organizational chart), it's going to be really funny to see how Smiley and all the rest of them are going to fit in the "operational work flow"