Monday, December 03, 2012
The working life: Losing in translation
As my co-worker and I are discussing the alarming change in the exchange rate - not to the favor of the dollar - during our trip and its impact on my securing additional local currency.
Co-worker: If you have to exchange dollars at the desk to get local currency, then you just expense what it is.
Me: I suppose. It's just that the rate is so much better with an ATM.
CW: But what are you going to do? You need the cash. [Former co-worker] never expensed any kind of exchange fees.
CW: Yeah, she saw me doing my expense report once after a trip to Mexico. I was looking up the daily exchange rates to calculate my expenses. [NB: SH's company's expense report system has an automated feature that does this for you. My employer still does all this stuff in Excel templates. No matter - I am not looking up daily rates - I take whatever shows up on my credit card statement in dollars plus any associated fees and that's what I expense.] She didn't know what I was doing. I asked her how she calculated the exchange fees and losses and she told me that she didn't. She just figured that it was part of her job to pay for that.
CW: I know!
For the record, I am the person who used to expense every diet Coke purchased at an offsite meeting, the idea being that if I was at my cubicle in the converted warehouse in the district where there were regular carjackings and we were advised not to walk to our cars unescorted after dark and where I would take a 24-pack of soda to work and keep it under my desk, thus reducing my cost per can of soda to whatever it was at the time - 12 cents? - I would not have to pay vending machine prices. But if I were at a meeting elsewhere, I had to buy soda from the vending machine and incurred an expense I would not otherwise have incurred. I suppose what I really should have done was expense the difference between what I would have paid for a soda at my cubicle versus what I had to pay at the machine. But then, I always needed more soda at the machine because I needed more caffeine to stay awake during those stupid meetings.
I know there are people who don't expense things like mileage to the airport - SH, I am talking to you. It took me a year to convince him to expense his mileage when he drove to the airport for a business trip. "But I work at home," he said. "I'm already getting such a good deal."
I had to point out to him that it was an even better deal for his employer, who was no longer paying for any of the infrastructure associated with employing SH, including phone, internet, and office space, which was about a gajillion dollars a sqaure foot in the San Francisco bay area the last time I checked.
Me: She didn't expense conversion charges?
CW: Nope. She thought that was something she was supposed to pay for.
Me: She's nuts.