(An explanation first: my job involves a lot of data-entry for the human resources office of a non-profit. The data is fed over to payroll, and often I will need to, er, “translate” between what’s on the form and how I know payroll would need to see it. But my work has to be approved by a manager, and sometimes they don’t quite get what I’ve done; especially if it’s someone new. One such new manager is there now, and came to check something with me.)
C: So…something about the way you entered the salary for this person seemed odd; it doesn’t match what’s on the form.
Me: Yeah, payroll would pro-rate what they requested based on a full-time annual salary, so I had to annualize it based on her schedule and based on her only working half a year.
C: I’m still not seeing how you did the math, though.
Me: Okay, I’ll show you – wait, remind me what they wanted to pay her for the total job?
C: …I’d….rather not just blurt it out –
Me: Eh, it doesn’t matter – let’s call it “florg”.
Me: It’s a nonsense word I pulled out of my butt.
Me: Okay. So. If we put down “florg”, they would assume that that’s the annual salary. But she’s only working for six months, and she’s also working only part time. So the figure we have to put down in the system – uh, let’s call that figure…
N (My coworker, who’s been listening): …”Gelb”?
Me: Yes, thank you. Gelb has to be whatever her full-time salary would be if she were getting one, and if she were working for a full year. So if we want her to ultimately be paid florg, we need to figure out what gelb would be, and put that down instead. So first what we need to know is, what is florg times two.
C: …Okay, but what you put down in the system isn’t…florg times two.
Me: Right, because she also is only working part time. Since she’s only working 40% of a full-time schedule, they will also cut whatever we put down as her annual salary by 40%.
C: So…40% of gelb is florg?
Me: No – 40% of gelb is two florgs.
(C hesitates, then his eyes grow wide with understanding, and he runs back to his office so as not to lose his concentration and confirm I did the math right. N and I watch him go.)
N: That was possibly the most memorable way you could have explained one of the stupider problems you’ve had to solve.