Monday, March 20, 2006

A budget beyond the dreams of avarice

In 1982, through no especial efforts of my own, I was named Hewlett Packard Melbourne Technician of the Year. Not much of a honour but you take em where you can find em. I'd been invited to a company dinner but, not being much of a company man (as if you couldn't guess) I didn't go to the dinner. Thus it was that their nominee wasn't present to receive his award.

The next morning they gathered we workshop denizens around and embarassed the hell out of me by announcing the award. And, since I'd missed the company dinner the evening before, the boss took me aside after the event and told me I could take my girlfriend out for dinner on company expense, up to 90 bucks.

In 1982 that was an enormous sum; especially considering that this was before I'd learned the delights of fine dining. Even today my wife and I can dine out in style on that much money, tip included.

I don't know what my girlfriend, Sue, thought about the sum but I remember that we decided to invite Robin and his girlfriend to The Pancake Parlour. Not the one in Doncaster, we wanted the one in Market Lane at the eastern end of the city. It's not there anymore though there is still one (well there was last September) at Centrepoint.

So we settled in for lunch. Pancakes and coffee and much talk. Later in the afternoon we had tiffin. Pancakes and coffee and much talk. Then it was time for dinner. Pancakes and coffee and much talk. Followed by a supper to fill up any nooks and crannies not already filled with pancakes and coffee, not to mention the talk.

The bill ran to 82 bucks! At the time the largest sum of money I'd ever spent on a meal.

Of course it wasn't possible that HP had given me 90 bucks; no sirree bob, no way no how. I had to submit a receipt and seek reimbursement of out of pocket expenses. They paid it without demur though my boss did wonder mightily at how I'd managed to spend 82 bucks at The Pancake Parlour!

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