This was heard at an administrative hearing. The speaker was talking about work that he was currently performing. It is a congruent conflation of “off the books” and “under the table”, both meaning to do something in secret so that taxes won’t be paid. Then again, maybe the speaker works in the basement of a library. A follow up question hopefully was made. A big thanks to John Costello for hearing this one.
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This malaphor is a mash up of “getting paid under the table” (money paid secretly and illegally) and perhaps “out of pocket” (lacking money) because it refers to money. However, there might be other idioms at play here. “Lining one’s own pockets” might be in the mix, as it means making money for oneself in a greedy or dishonest fashion. Certainly money under the table is taken dishonestly. “Money burns a hole in one’s pocket” could also be in the speaker’s mind, as it refers to someone who spends money as soon as it is earned. Then there is “pocket money” (cash for incidental expenses) again referring to finances. Actually, there are a lot of phrases involving pockets that refer to money. The speaker might also have been thinking of a game of pool, which involves a table and pockets. And that gets me to the phrase “pocket pool”, which I will refrain from defining as this is a G rated website (at least sometimes). Kudos to Vicki Ameel-Kovacs for hearing this one and sending it in!
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