Monday, April 13, 2009

Schadenfreude: German for "shameful joy"

Today is severance check pickup day at the Idaho Statesman, and I just got back from a brisk spring afternoon bike ride to get mine. I forgot to wear my helmet so I'm feeling badly about that, but not so much the fact that I'm not sitting in cubicle hell slogging through another Monday.

I was at the paper about five minutes — if that — just enough time to receive my parting gifts and exchange pleasantries with some former coworkers doing the same, and I gotta say, there was no sadness or vacant feeling or anything like that. I suppose that speaks to my level of (un)happiness at the paper those last few months, which may have been a symptom of newsroom dread or my own emotions entirely. I don't know yet. It's only been a week and I'm still sorting that shit out.

Getting back to that severance ... The big kick in the balls is that the Government views a severance as "supplemental income" and therefore takes 42 percent off the top for their troubles. I assumed all along that I'd be taxed on it, but I figured it would be at the same rate as my regular paycheck. Not so. And, McClatchy made us sign a modest heap of paperwork stating, among other things, that we wouldn't share any confidential information about the company or they could take our severance right back. Like I know any dirty secrets — remember, I was a bottom-rung reporter. It took them three months to show me how to get out of the building once I got in. But I guess I have to watch what I say at the dinner table. My 9-month-old daughter has loose lips at daycare.

Nonetheless, I'm happy I'm here at home and not there today. I'm not answering to anyone, not doing anything I don't want to be doing, blasting music at ear-ringing volumes and willfully, boastfully violating Associated Press style guidelines by using double quotations in my headlines and not the correct single quotations. Checkmate, fuckers.

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