May 23, 2008

Getting Paid to Ride Without Turning Pro

I received a pleasant surprise when I opened my pay envelope last month, for no apparent reason there was an additional 10,000 yen. That's cool, I rarely question accounting errors especially when they are in my favor, but I eventually gave in and had to ask why it was there.

It is tradition in Japan for you employer to pay your commuting fees, this is the door to door cost of your trip to work and back using public transport. Until now whenever I needed a new commuter pass, I mentioned it to the helpful lady responsible for such things, she would give me the required amount of cash, I'd purchase the commuter pass and return the receipt to her. From there I assume the receipt went into accounting land for some further action.

That all comes with quite an administrative overhead. So, from this financial year the annual cost of our commuting fee is broken down into 12 equal amounts which so happens to correspond to the number of months in the calendar year (its like they planned it) and that amount is now paid into our accounts along with our salary.

This represents a nice little increase in pocket money as the commuting fee is paid based on the mistaken belief that I'm catching two trains to work in the morning and two back each night .. which we all know is wrong .. I'm out there on the roads dicing with death.

Of our roughly 30 employees 5 commute to work by bicycle at least twice a week. Its a well known fact as we park our bikes in the stairwell, hang our sweaty gear on the balcony to dry, take 'bird baths' in the restroom, and generally mess up the carefully designed office environment with our eye burning lycra clothing and obscene amounts of reflective tape.

Despite the fact that not everyone is commuting in the traditionally accepted manner, all employees are entitled to receive the commuter fee as a condition of their employment .. only some of us are spending it on new wheels, lights, pedals and shoes.

I'm effectively being paid to ride to work. How great is that?

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