When I was in Paris last spring, a whole long month after my TAPIF contract had ended, my trusty French phone received a text message alerting me that a sum of 790 euros and change had been deposited into my French bank account.
I was used to getting these kinds of text messages—I’d gotten one for every paycheck I’d received—but I was not expecting this one: I was supposed to get my last paycheck at the end of April, and had…
First, I assumed my phone was confused, that it had sent me this text because it had sent me one every month, like clockwork.
Then I checked the balance of my account online, and sure enough, there was the extra money.
Next I checked in with my old housemates and fellow assistants. “Did you by chance happen to get another paycheck this month?” None of them had.
Crap. Must have been an administrative, clerical error.
C’était un trop-perçu de salaire.
I had two choices: keep and spend the money, hoping that the French government just wouldn’t notice a missing 800 euros; or turn it in.
Because I’m a goody two-shoes—and would have been racked with guilt/fearful that someday when I try to get my next French visa I’ll be denied it because of this mishap—I emailed Stéphane, my trusty boss from Auch who immediately got me in touch with the correct people at the departmental Académie in Toulouse.
These people—well, one woman, specifically—sent me a snooty, typically French email that seemed to shift the onus of this mistake onto me. She instructed me not to spend the extra money. Duh, if I were going to spend it, I wouldn’t have told you about it in the first place. And informed me that I’d subsequently recieve two letters: one from the Académie de Toulouse telling me how much I owed. I think I can figure that one out as it was versed as a lump sum into my account. The other from the Trésorerie Générale detailing how to follow through with reimbursing them. Ugh. Get ready for more red tape.
This all happened the first week of June—and I assumed that I’d receive said letters by the end of July at the latest.
Well you know what happens when you assume…
Today—exactly six months later, just when I was starting to think they’d forgotten about me and that I’d get to keep the extra money—I got an email from the Académie.
It included a PDF attachment of that first promised letter—the one telling me how much I owe. It also reminded me that I’ll be getting a separate letter from the Trésorerie Générale.
I’m still waiting on that one…