Pain no gain for employees

    I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank my dentist, Harold, for saving me thousands of dollars.
    It all began about two months ago. Life was pretty darn wonderful up to that point. Business was finally booming, many old nagging problems had faded away, and my teeth felt just fine.
    It had been awhile since I had a dental checkup, though, and since life was going so well I thought it wise to take better care of myself since I might want to stick around for awhile. So I made an appointment.
    "Oh my, oh my," said Harold, peering into my mouth and shaking his head. "Looks like Iíll be able to afford that trip to Puerto Vallarta after all."
    His assistant, knowing her job was secure for another month, gleefully made notes as he rattled off the work that needed to be done. Grand total: two gold crowns, four gold onlays; $3,300.
    That couldnít be right. My teeth felt fine, maybe a little sensitive from time to time, but I could still chew with the best. I had even flossed every six months or so.
    "Your silver fillings are cracked," said Harold, leaning back in the assassinís seat. "Itís much cheaper to replace them with silver, which will last about 15 years, while they drip mercury into your brain, possibly causing Alzheimerís or other horrible diseases, or we can do it in gold, which will last forever with no ill effects. Your choice."
    I responded with what I know ranks as one of my dumbest questions of all time. "What would you do?"
    Harold didnít miss a beat. With his eyes blinking like an old cash register, he quickly replied, "Go for the gold."
    And so the nightmare began. The appointment was made for a morning the following week. Coincidentally, I had scheduled a meeting for the same afternoon to determine the amount of bonuses to be doled out to key employees in appreciation of the booming business that had helped make my life wonderful up to that point.
    After 3-1/2 hours of drilling and assorted other horrors, I arrived back at my office, numb, with a mouth full of temporary foreign objects while the permanent foreign objects were being mined and molded in some South African quarry.
    "What happened to you?" asked Ms. Ferguson, my loyal office manager, cowering in the corner in fear that I would come closer.
    "I dint foss," I replied, drooling. A couple of hours later, the Novocain wore off and I could feel my mouth again. Unfortunately.
    I was in pain. The perfect time to sit down and determine compensation for the employees of what up until that morning had been a thriving business. Now the future suddenly looked mighty bleak, and the throbbing in my gums told me that generosity was not the order of the day.
    So thousands of dollars were saved that afternoon, thanks to Harold. But I also knew that a second round of bonuses was coming up in another month, and whatever shortfall was experienced by employees due to my dental problems would be made up at that point.
    Little did they or I know I would still be in pain seven weeks later.
    After four temporary fillings had fallen out prematurely, necessitating four separate emergency trips to the dentist (three while on a weeksí vacation) the permanents were put in. When the pain continued, Harold determined that one of the permanents didnítí fit right and would have to be replaced.
    Actually, the pain isnít that bad unless I drink liquids or breathe air that hasnítí been warmed to 80 degrees. As I write this, my appointment for the new permanent is tomorrow, which will perhaps finally eliminate the pain. Regrettably, the second round of bonuses was determined yesterday.
    I actually did reduce the amount of compensation I originally intended to distribute. There were a variety of reasons for doing so, but I donítí doubt that my aching teeth were a contributing factor.
    As shallow as it sounds, itís difficult to feel the boundless optimism of seven weeks ago when Iím eating Motrin for breakfast. Life will be wonderful again soon, perhaps as early as tomorrow, and the next compensation opportunity will come along with no negative influences.
    And if not, if Iím still in pain from my continuing dental nightmare, Iíll promise to distribute to employees the $3,300 Iíll have saved from refusing to pay Harold his fee.
    Thatís funny. I feel better already.



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