When the young father tried to leave his home about an hour after the stranger appeared on his porch, he found more than 500 pounds of greasy pennies piled up at the end of his driveway, a pay stub and an envelope with an expletive scrawled on it, above a squiggly underline.
Flaten and his girlfriend, Olivia Oxley, spent hours hauling the pennies up the driveway. The haul sits in a green wheelbarrow whose tires have deflated under the weight of the copper-coated cash.
“I think that’s going to be a lot of work for money I’ve already worked for,” Flaten told Atlanta’s Fox 5. “It’s going to be hours upon hours of just trying to clean this money up so that it’s even able to be spent. It’s definitely not fair at all.”
The unusual last payment sparked a lot of penny and car puns, along with conversations online about bad bosses, once Oxley posted a video of the pennies twinkling under her cellphone light beneath the night sky.
Flaten left A OK Walker Autoworks in Peachtree City, Ga., in November because of a toxic work environment, he told CBS 46.
Flaten said the working relationship soured when the business’s owner, Miles Walker, didn’t honor their agreement that Flaten could pick up his child from day-care at 5 p.m. each day, the Times reported. The need to pick up his daughter grew more acute amid coronavirus restrictions affecting child-care centers, according to the New York Times.
Flaten submitted a letter to his boss explaining his departure, with his two weeks’ notice, and delivered his laundered work uniform in a box, Oxley said in her Instagram post.
He waited for his last paycheck of $915 to arrive, until weeks turned to months. At one point, Walker was claiming damage to the shop as a reason for the lack of payment, Oxley alleged.
Walker hasn’t publicly disputed Oxley’s claims. He didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Flaten told Fox 5 that he contacted the Georgia Labor Department and the U.S. Labor Department to try to get his payment.
After the word “lawyer” dropped in another exchange with his former boss, the pennies soon showed up on the driveway, Oxley claimed.
Allegations of dysfunction have dogged the auto shop, which boasts about doing work for Clint Eastwood on “Trouble With the Curve” and for the customized 1971 Ford Mustang Sportsroof named Eleanor in “Gone in 60 Seconds.”
One former employee told CBS 46 that Walker has ripped up final paychecks in front of employees before, and another former employee alleged that he pulled down her pants in a lobby as a joke.
Walker told the news station that the pennies didn’t matter because Flaten got paid.
“He’s a … weenie for even bringing it up,” Walker said.
Flaten probably doesn’t have any legal options to pursue because being paid in greasy pennies for work isn’t exactly illegal, a spokesperson for the Labor Department told the New York Times.
He will continue soaking his coins in a concoction of dish liquid, vinegar and water and wiping off each penny. It takes about an hour-and-a-half just to clean off several-hundred, he told Fox 5.
“It sucks. It absolutely sucks,” he said. “I wouldn’t wish this upon anybody.”