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Can I Claim It On Expenses?

CAN I CLAIM IT ON EXPENSES?Everyone likes to receive a reward now and then, it's not an ambition restricted only to bounty hunters.  There is an assortment of bounties for a range of folks, neither pun intended.   

A perquisite - a perk - is a benefit some people are entitled to because of their profession or position.  A famous tale concerning a Fleet Street journalist has him running towards a story and passing his news editor going in the other direction.  "Can't stop," shouts the reporter, "I'm in a taxi!"  As expense claims go, a fairly impressive example of thinking on one's feet.

Different jobs offer different perks, not all of them as impressive as a royal throne or an astronaut's view of the world.  What on earth would a teacher want with extra chalk these days?  Or decommissioned inkwells?

The former MillerCoors brewery had on-site pubs where employees could 'taste test' 13 different varieties of beer, free of charge.  Did they wear blindfolds?  Were they able to drive home in a straight line?  And the outdoor equipment chain 'Patagonia' actively encourages its staff members to surf at lunchtime, and I don't think they mean the World Wide Web.  As navigation goes, I suppose "Surf's up!" is marginally better than "Road's Up!" 

David AitkenI've heard of one company that used to pick up its wage slaves' dry cleaning, which seems a minor incentive compared to the free use of a fleet of yachts offered by another.  A major chocolate manufacturer in America held a sort of perk-raffle, whereby each employee brought a packed suitcase to work and then one was picked at random to leave immediately for an all-expenses-paid holiday in Las Vegas.  Just don't expect much work from the losers for the rest of that day, whose suitcases travelled in vain.  Revenge is sweet, and it's not even fattening.

A friend of mine once became the part-time restaurant critic for a Scottish newspaper, causing his digestive juices to perk up at the prospect of dining out with his wife more often than usual, without causing further distress to his wallet.  Imagine his dismay when he learned that his remit stretched to one 3-course meal only, and that his wallet and his digestive juices (and his wife) would have to pay the price.  "Helen enjoyed her sandwiches," he told me later.  No such thing as a free lunch.

"Never include a pair of fictitious chicken dinners on your expense sheet," a fellow scribbler advised me.  "Mine came home to roost when I had to buy them to show my claim was true, and I don't even like chicken."  Another reporter who invented a paid informer's account of a bank robbery was later caught out when the police wanted to question his snitch.  

All of which goes some way to show that the perks of a job aren't always what they are cracked up to be.  The only fringe benefit I remember is a free haircut, and even then I can hardly claim that interviewing an apprentice barber was cutting-edge journalism.  Especially as his scissors were unwieldy, and I have a rare blood group called AB Negative, although I try to stay positive about it.     




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