There is a lengthy argument that comes with the idea of trade workers and white collar positions, in which social snobbery takes hold. Then we somehow give into the social programming that separates us in levels of importance due to financial earnings. Meanwhile, none of this is actually true. We’re all small, little beings, running around on a big ball we know as Project Earth.
There was a morning I spent in an office with people who rushed around and created business. I was on-site to repair the air conditioning. Obviously, the office was uncomfortably warm and the people in the office were complaining. One of the workers in the office began to speak with me about his work and stress level.
“I should take a job like yours,” he said to me. He said, “You probably have it easy and hang out in air conditioned rooms all day.” I explained that since my job is to repair the air conditioning, chances are I go where it’s hot. Not cool. “Yeah, but you have it good,” the man said. “There’s no stress. You come in, fix something, and then you go home. No big deal.”
I didn’t argue because why bother?
However, the man kept going on, which later became apparent to me that he was fishing for information. He was perhaps A) looking to see how much I would take before snapping or B) he was probing to see how much money I make or C) the chances are this man was probably just an idiot and struggled with social boundaries and finally the answer could have been D) which is maybe he’s never been punched in the face before.
Either way, if life were a multiple choice question, safe to say the above answers would fit beneath the question as to why this man decided to speak with me.
He was a mid-level employee. At best he was maybe approaching his 30’s and me, safe to say I was older than him by more than a decade and a half. “I should be like you,” he kept saying.
After working in the ceiling of his office space, I stepped down off the ladder to give this man a face-to-face response. He leaned back, ever so proud of himself, and said, “I mean, you probably bank what? Somewhere around 60K a year? It’s not a lot of money but then hey, you don’t have to deal with the stress of a life like this.”
I asked, “Who could live on 60K a year?”
“That’s my point exactly,” he responded.
“But I’m sure you figure out a way to get by.” “I do fine, but who lives on 60K a year?”
(Oh, I get it is what I thought to myself. This guy thinks I’m poor.)
First and foremost, allow me to explain that earning a living is still earning a living. This does not matter how much money we make. Character is character and assholes are just assholes no matter how much they earn.
Secondly, I do not give into social snobbery. I am blessed to be who I am and blessed to be part of an organized trade in which I have union protection and growth potential. With this being mentioned and although I did not have the same college background as the man in this office, it was clear to me that this man believed that I was somehow less-than.
He saw me as an underling. In his social caste system, he was in the upper echelon of earning potential. He spoke as if I was uneducated and just scraping by, which is grossly inaccurate. That being said, whatever I earn is no one’s business (especially his) and equally, whatever I earn is earned because I put in the hours to reach a certain pay grade.
Back to the conversation, the man replied as if to show a condescending sense of sympathy. “You have to make at least that much, right?” “I wouldn’t be able to live my life if that was all I made.” “Oh, so you make more?” Maintaining my calmness, I answered back, “Yes.” “So where are you,” he asked me. “Like around 70 to 75K.”
I shook my head in disbelief and thought to myself, “Is this asshole really trying to ask me how much I make?” Look, me being in my position, I might not ever reach the Forbes list. I may not crack a 7-digit salary and I’m not a multi-millionaire by any stretch. However, I am not someone that comes to work for the food and friends either. I work long hours and I have a position as well as my own wellness company.
The man upped his ante with a sense of jovial surprise. “I suppose with the overtime you get, you’re probably somewhere around 80 grand.”
I let out a small huff. It was time to put this to a stop. “I make more money than you do.” In full disbelief, he said, “You don’t make more than 100k,” to which I replied, “And then some.”
“No way,” he replied.
“It’s not possible!”
“Tell you what,” I said.
“Let’s make a bet and trade tax returns at the end of the year.”
“Let’s see who smiles more.”
I would have held to this bet and honored it but unfortunately, that company went out of business.
I hate social snobbery. More than anything, I dislike presumptuous people but it goes back to the old idea about the fool and the fool that argues with them.
The Old Man once told me “Never brag about money. One day you might not have any and then you’ll find out what you’re really worth.
I swear The Old Man was far smarter than I ever realized.