Welcome to a special Hurricane Sandy edition of Thatz Not Okay, a regular column in which I school inquiring readers on what is and is not okay. Please send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Thatz Not Okay."
Say you're a journalist who was required to come to work immediately following the storm while other people at your job were allowed to stay home without consequence. Since public transit is still crippled, who is responsible for paying for your way in? If you took a car service and are planning to ask your boss to reimburse you for the fare…is that okay?
Thatz okay. In the rare event that a natural disaster of catastrophic proportions wipes out public transit, the onus is on your boss to provide transportation.
You're not asking your boss to pay for car service because you're too cheap to buy your own car or didn't want to shell out for a subway pass. And this isn't the same as calling for a ride because you don't feel like shoveling your driveway after a few inches of snow have fallen. If your boss has determined its absolutely imperative that you be at work when the President of the United States has declared the region in which you reside "a disaster area," your boss can pony up the bill. (See this? Thatz not okay.)
You might argue that your employer didn't wish for this disaster anymore than you did, so it's as unfair to penalize them as it would be to penalize you. Guess what, softheart? This is the real world and in the real world, as on The Real World, people take free things when they are offered, be it rides to work, a couple of those nice pens from the supply closet, or commitment-free hot tub sex with Trishelle after the other roomies have gone to sleep.
Anyway, while it is true that your boss didn't wish for the disaster (assuming your boss does not head up a funny-hurricane-tweet manufacturing plant) here's the thing about bosses and, more specifically, the companies they own: they tend to have more money than individual employees. If they don't, the company is a failure and you shouldn't be working there anyway. Tell your boss to suck it; today's the day you quit.
Do you think Ann Curry has to pay for own ticket to Darfur? Or that Anderson Cooper had to hitchhike to New Orleans? Or that Matt Lauer foots the bill for Where In The World Is Matt Lauer? (He's in the Seychelles! Poor Matt Lauer.) They do not. Their bosses pay for it.
So don't feel guilty about asking your boss to reimburse you for travel expenses if it's hard for you to get to work this week. (Hopefully he or she will beat you to the punch by making it clear the company intends to foot the bill.) Other than that: do your best to stay safe and patient. No one's having a good week this week, except public school kids who had a test on Thursday.
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