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CMHC Archetypes: The Travel Memo

May 15, 2012
by Terry Stawar
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Over the past 40  years I’ve worked in  five community mental health centers across the country. If you been around for a while,  it won’t surprise you that certain elements are almost identical regardless of the  center where you work. CMHC Archetypes is an occasional feature that will reflect  on the possible origin of some of these phenomena.

One of these commonalities is the travel memo. We’ve all seen it before, but let us  briefly explore  the travel memo’s historical roots.

I have reason to believe that it originated with the Aztecs.  In ancient Mexico, the Aztec society had a governmental official who reported directly to the emperor and functioned as the empire’s chief financial officer. For reasons which are not entirely clear this Aztec CFO was referred to as the Snake-Woman. The Snake-Woman's job was to handle all financial transactions like the collection of revenues (in precious metals or coca beans) and the payment of the army, public officials and artisans who worked for the court.  I contend that the actual  Aztec  memo below is the prototype for all of the other travel memos to follow.

Aztec Empire, Inc.

Texataco Office

No. 1. Trail of Hearts Expressway


Chambers of the Snakewoman

From the Desk of: I. Havaquartzwatchanddietcola, S.W., MBA, CPA

To: All Staff

Date: 12th day, 6th Lunar Month in the year of the Cheeta

RE: Travel Vouchers

It has come to my attention that many of the palace staff have been submitting their travel vouchers for reimbursement two or three lunar months late and then demanding immediate payment. We even had one request from the year of the Puma come in last week. This will no longer be tolerated. Vouchers over one lunar month old will no longer be paid. Also the rate of reimbursement has been lowered from 25 coca beans per league to 20 coca beans per league due to a projected general revenue short fall, effective immediately.

Finally, palace staff members will no longer be permitted to hang around our offices flirting with the staff and  constantly asking for their travel reimbursements early. The people have their work to do and so should you. Any violation of this directive may result in disciplinary action up to and including having your heart ripped out and thrown into a fire at the next slaughter of foreign captives.

Thank you and have a nice day. J


Terry Stawar

President/CEO (LifeSpring, Inc.)

Terry Stawar


Terry L. Stawar, EdD, is President and CEO of LifeSpring Health Systems, a community behavioral...

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