One big leap for tenants

   This may sound pathetic, but I began looking forward to this coming Saturday almost a year ago. Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Yearís . . .they just stood in the way of the real holiday yet to come.
   Most people donít even consider this Saturday a cause for celebration. If not, itís probably because they donít understand its importance and benefit for anyone with monthly payments.
   This Saturday is February 29, 1992. Leap day. Sadie Hawkins Day. Free Rent day.
   Hallelujah and pass the champagne. I paid all my rent in the beginning of February, as usual, but instead of the piddling 28 days, I am blessed with an extra day of occupancy, free of charge.
   Landlords must really hate this day. They hire their high-powered attorneys to draft and negotiate leases for them, dissecting each detail, making certain every conceivable drop of income is bled from prospective tenants.
   And now, after all the legal fees, after all the careful scrutiny, they realize that every four years thereís an additional day in February and theyíre not getting one extra cent for it.
   Oh, what a glorious day!
   We tenants, the doormats of the business world, finally put one over on the landlords. Itís only fitting that this wonderful day should arrive in February. I have always hated February. Itís cold, wet and ironically (but most importantly), short.
   Twenty-eight days. You pay a full monthís rent, pay your salaried employees a full monthís salary, and before you know it the month is over and rent is due and the payroll must be met. Again.
   I have never quite understood why February got so shortchanged when all the other months got at least 30 days. In painstaking research on the matter, I discovered, as expected, it was a landlord plot.
   The current calendar was developed by none other than Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. Legend has it that Julius, who had his fair share of properties, was sitting around the steam room with some of his landlord buddies discussing ways to make their tenants more miserable. While many initially preferred Brutusís suggestion of feeding all tenants to the lions, Caeser suggested cutting the days in February to 28 instead. All agreed with his argument that the tenantís suffering would be greater, and it would heighten the celebration of the roman landlordsí February orgy.
   Tragically, a few years later, Brutus, who among his many passions held the master lease on one of Caesarís buildings, was late on his March rent due to not enough days in February to cover his costs. Hence Caesarís famous "Ides of March" line when he added Brutus to his list of delinquent tenants: "Et tu, Brute."
   Whether or not a 28-day February caused the collapse of the Roman Empire is subject to discussion, but there is no doubt it has created chaos for modern manís meager cash flow.
   And while Julius Ceasar and his loony astronomers were to blame for the short February, we must remember Caesar also was responsible for adding the extra day every four years. So for that reason we have come today to praise Caesar, not bury him.
   Saturday, February 29 is a day for all tenants and consumers with monthly payments (cable TV, telephone) to rejoice. It should be an international holiday, the day when the little guy finally gets a break.
   I plan to spend Saturday at work, looking at my telephone (free), my leased equipment (free) and my salaried employees (free, free, free) who had the misfortune of being scheduled to work on Saturday.
   I might even give one of my landlords a call, just to let him know how much I enjoy being his tenant as long as Iím not paying any rent.
   And then the best part of all Ė Sunday morning. Taking the day off, Iíll climb out of bed late, have a leisurely breakfast, and then call my retail stores to get sales figures for Saturday. In these difficult times where any sales increase is hard to come by, itís not often (every four years, to be exact) a slam dunk comes along.
   "How did we do?" Iíll ask confidently when I call Sunday morning.
   "Not bad," my manager will reply. "Weíre up 1 zillion percent for the same day last year."
   Iíll light a cigar, wave around a fistful of bills and grandly announce to anyone who will listen that the recession is obviously over.
   For the day.

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