Miserable Offender

Tuesday evening, I neglected to do something really important, that I almost never forget. In the US, if you work on a contract for the federal government, there are very strict regulations on recording the time you spend working on that contract. In the paper timesheet days, the timesheet had to be posted at your desk, easily visible and obtainable, and it had to be up-to-date at all times. Now that many (most?) contractors use computerized timekeeping systems, the online timesheet must still be kept up-to-date, but you don’t have that visual reminder of the timesheet tacked to your cubicle wall. Since there are pretty stiff penalties for contracting companies who don’t enforce the timekeeping rules, well, contracting companies tend to enforce the rules.

So Tuesday evening, I finished up my workday a little later than usual, after completing a couple of last-minute, ad hoc data calls. I wanted to get off of my computer quickly, so I just signed out without recording my time. I remembered as I plugged in my laptop on Wednesday morning, but it didn’t stick in my memory long enough for the machine to boot up. On the way back from physical therapy, around 9-ish, I remembered again, and made a concerted effort to record my time as soon as I logged back into my computer. However, I believe that the deadline is 9am, and if your time is not recorded by then, your name ends up on a report, and your manager has to tell his manager why your name is there. This is clearly undesirable, from the “s**t flows down” perspective. So after I finished recording my time, I sent the following email to my manager:

Dear Boss,I find that I must offer my most profound and humble apologies. I realized this morning, around 9am, that I had most grievously neglected to record my time yesterday. While I do acknowledge and bewail my manifold sins and wickedness, and recognize that I am indeed a miserable offender, I will venture to say that in my twelve years of working as a government contractor, I can count on one hand the number of times I have failed to record my time.

I humbly ask your pardon for this most egregious sin of omission.


Now his assistant tells me that your name doesn’t show up unless you miss recording your time twice within a week. So I did all that groveling for nothing! At least I am thankful that my name won’t be on the list… as long as I remember to record my time today and tomorrow! And… I hope my boss got a good laugh out of it.


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