Thursday, March 22, 2007

...money (that's what I want)...


So I met with the HR guy yesterday, to ostensibly learn about benefits, yada yada yada, but of course I was really there so we could dance the dance of MONEY. My colleague (J) and I have both been offered positions by The Company, but J interviewed with the HR guy immediately before I did. J and I both have master’s degrees, and equal years of research experience, and we do the same job, but J makes 20% more than I do. I’m not speculating; J couldn’t wait to tell me how much she makes, and disclosed this fact to me in the first week that she occupied the cubette next to mine. I’m alternately amused and annoyed by how much she cares about this. J likes to pretend she’s a pussycat about money, but in fact she’s more of a barracuda.

When she came back from meeting with the HR guy, though, she looked steamed.

“How’d it go?” I asked.

“We’ll talk later,” she said darkly, playing her cards close to her vest.

“OK,” I said cheerfully, and I went on down to the bowels of The Company to meet with the HR guy. An overweight 30-something in de rigeur khakis and blue Oxford cloth shirt, he was on the phone when I got to his office, but he waved me in, then stayed on the phone for 5 more minutes, after which he spent an additional three minutes looking for my file. Hmmmmm, I thought, I wonder if I’m supposed to be impressed that he’s so busy, or intimidated that he’s misplaced my file. Feeling neither impressed nor intimidated, I smiled brightly and let him look for my file, but I didn’t say anything. I’m not laboring under the illusion that silence means I have to speak. By training (psychology) and birth (Scandinavian Lutheran) I’m comfortable with silence. I waited and let Mr. Office Space speak first.

He looked over my job application.
“You left your previous job after just 3 months...” he said, at the last moment inflecting the end of the statement, to make it a question.

I stopped smiling and looked sober.
“Family leave. Major house fire,” I said.

“Ohhhhhhhh...”

“But I worked at the U for five years before that...” I added, cheerfully.

He brightened and nodded and continued to peruse my application. He cleared his throat.

“You’re making ($X) per year?” he asked.

“Yes, I am,” I said, nodding, not missing a beat.

He made eye contact. I held eye contact.

“Uh huh,” he said. “That’s at the upper limit of the salary range for this job...”

“Is it?” I said cheerfully.

“Yes,” he said, “It is...”

“Well,” I said, “Now that you mention it, no one’s actually told me the salary range for this job. What is it?”

He consulted a fat black binder and told me.

I smiled confidently and said nothing.

Looooooooooong silence. He flipped through my paperwork.

“Well, but, you have a master’s degree...” he finally said.

“Yes I do,” I said cheerfully.

“And experience...”

I nodded my acquiescence to that.

In rapid-fire succession, he then told me about the 401K and the insurance and the PTO. I responded by oohing and ahhing appropriately. I then told him how much I like the Fort Worth Symphony and Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s conducting, after which we agreed that Sundance Square rocks, and The Kimbell is amazing.

“Do you have any questions for me?” he asked. “I mean about benefits or anything?”

“I read the literature,” I said, “and I think I have a pretty clear understanding of benefits. I guess the only other question I have is what kind of a time frame are we talking about?”

He said two to three weeks.

I thanked him for his time and went back upstairs, where J was still irritated with him.

“Did you meet with him?” she asked.

“Yes I did,” I said.

“You weren’t there very long,” she said suspiciously.

“I guess not,” I said.

“Did you talk salary?” she asked.

I couldn’t resist using her own line back on her:
“We’ll talk later,” I said.

All that posturing wiped me out. While J was downstairs picking up some files, I slipped out and drove home, where I dumped some chemicals into the pool, drank a Pear Ale, and promptly fell sound asleep.

I hate having to think about money. I don’t have a burning desire to be filthy rich, but I’d like to have enough money to not have to think about it and while I admit I don’t know how much that is, I believe that it’s probably less than one would think.

Daniel Gilbert, a psychology professor at Harvard and the author of the book, Stumbling on Happiness, writes
"Once you get basic human needs met, a lot more money doesn't make a lot more happiness." Dr. Gilbert’s research suggests that going from earning less than $20,000 a year to making more than $50,000 makes you twice as likely to be happy, however, he says that things level out after that, so that the increase in happiness for surpassing $90,000 is slight.

I can believe that. The fact is, I don't much care for people who care a lot about money. All too often, they know the price of everything and the value of nothing...

7 comments:

Pam said...

Good job with the HR guy. At least, J didn't go out to the parking lot with you and declare she wants to go out with you....

Tammy said...

I'm confused, did you get the job or are you waiting to hear? If you're at the top of scale why is the barracuda making 20% more? Mr Gilbert is so right!

Lisa :-] said...

...and did you tell Mr. HR that you wanted a cubette far away from the guy of your previous post? That might be worth a couple grand a year...

emmapeelDallas said...

LOL Pam!

Tammy, I don't have the job yet. They're preparing to make offers to both of us, thus the interview with Mr. HR, to try to determine what we'll accept without actually asking us what we'll accept...

Re the salary difference, J and I are employed by a CRO (Clinical Research Organization), and J shrewdly negotiated a much higher salary than I. If I'd asked for what she's getting, I'm pretty sure they'd have paid me the same salary without blinking an eye. Live and learn.

Lisa, we're moving our office next week, and coincidentally I'll be some distance away from The Guy, which is fine with me...

Paul said...

You know there's lotsa things to cure your ills
But there is one thing gonna pay your bills

ab said...

I find the very last line the most revealing, maybe even profound.

I've seen the good and the bad that excess money can do. The bad can be really, really ugly, but the good oh so beautiful.

TJ said...

Ah yes a NEGO-tiater, low baller, act busier-fast talker.
Damn, does every office require one?
How does one apply for his job?
laughing.......
TJ