Currently, only four individuals on the entire planet who know how much money I make:
- my boss
- the payroll guy at work
- my gentlemanfriend
- my accountant
No one else – not even God (mainly because he/she is too busy watching the Republican primaries right now to give a s–t) – knows what I take home every month.
If you asked me how much money I make, I’d blush. I’d stammer. I’d change the subject. And then I’d text my best friend to tell her how rude you are.
It’s odd how much this particular question offends us. I’d rather tell you when I lost my virginity*, what religion I am**, or who I’d vote for in a federal election*** , than tell you what I pocket from my employer.
But why? Why is it so hard to utter this number? Are we trying to protect ourselves from embarrassment/ridicule/aggrandization? Or are we trying to protect the other person from experiencing this internal roller coster?
I live in a city where the culture is, debatably, money-oriented. You’d think this would be the first question we’d ask. But even we, with our uncouth ways, are too polite to pop this question. At least not directly. Because we’ve found a very clever way around it. Find yourself cornered at a party, in a bar or on an internet date in this town, and the first question a person will ask you is this:
“So, whatta’ ya do?”
They aren’t trying to stimulate conversation, and they aren’t inquiring about your hopes and dreams, or your favourite pastime. They want to know your occupation, and they’re asking you so they can do some quick math in their heads and judge you on the resulting number. Wouldn’t our lives be a whole lot easier, and more honest, if we could simply ask:
“Hey you, how much cake do you make?”
**a confusing, yet convenient, mix of Catholicism, Buddhism and What-My-Horoscope-Says-Ism
***Jack Layton’s NDP, so I’m a bit adrift right now honestly. Any suggestions?