Wedding Woes

I'm the 1%'er my co-workers trash.

Dear Prudence,
I am incredibly fortunate to come from a wealthy family—like 1-percent wealthy. (For what it’s worth, my first-generation parents and immigrant grandparents made all their money on their own.) I chose to work in a job that makes about 30 percent of what I otherwise could, because I feel a responsibility to give back and I really love what I do. My problem is some of my co-workers, who constantly disparage people with money and people who come from money. Even though they don’t know that I am one of those people, it’s hard for me to nod along and just let someone disparage me and my family—grouping all rich people together as evil, or mocking trust-fund recipients as lazy do-nothings, when I know it’s not true.
(I’m right here in the trenches doing the same work as them.) I don’t want to say, “Hey—I’m one of those people,” but how can I deal with it when it feels like my family and I are constantly being put down?
—Co-Workers Don’t Know They’re Talking About Me

Re: I'm the 1%'er my co-workers trash.

  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya
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    mrsconn23 said:
    Dear Prudence,
    I am incredibly fortunate to come from a wealthy family—like 1-percent wealthy. (For what it’s worth, my first-generation parents and immigrant grandparents made all their money on their own.) I chose to work in a job that makes about 30 percent of what I otherwise could, because I feel a responsibility to give back and I really love what I do. My problem is some of my co-workers, who constantly disparage people with money and people who come from money. Even though they don’t know that I am one of those people, it’s hard for me to nod along and just let someone disparage me and my family—grouping all rich people together as evil, or mocking trust-fund recipients as lazy do-nothings, when I know it’s not true.
    (I’m right here in the trenches doing the same work as them.) I don’t want to say, “Hey—I’m one of those people,” but how can I deal with it when it feels like my family and I are constantly being put down?
    —Co-Workers Don’t Know They’re Talking About Me
    Uhhhh, why not?
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    charlotte989875ahoyweddingeileenrob
  • #notalltrustfundbabies

    Just kidding. But why not say "hey it's my family you're talking about there and clearly not all 1%ers are lazy". Say it once, and if they continue try to change the subject or leave the conversation. 
    OliveOilsMomahoyweddingSP29
  • Here's Prudie's response...

    Finding a better way to deal with your feelings of discomfort when your co-workers make jokes about the superwealthy is an admirable and achievable goal! Being uncomfortable is not the same thing as being harmed, and coming from a wealthy family does not place you in a protected or marginalized class; in fact, I think it is good and healthy for you to get to experience this kind of discomfort. You say that you feel a responsibility to “give back,” but while it’s true that you might be able to get a higher-paying job elsewhere (or presumably choose not to work at all), you are in fact paid for the work that you do. That’s not volunteering or charity—you perform a job, just like everyone else you work with. You seem to believe that if your co-workers only knew that you didn’t “have to” work that they’d think more highly of you or consider your extreme wealth somehow merited by what you think of as a sacrifice. I don’t think that’s true. I’m glad you love your job, but that doesn’t make our financial system fundamentally just, nor do I believe your hardworking immigrant grandparents deserved 1-percent levels of money any more than anyone else’s hardworking immigrant grandparents who didn’t make that kind of cash. Your family is not so much more industrious or capable than other families that you could ever possibly deserve to have that much money when others have so little. It may feel irritating to be periodically reminded that your family’s wealth is made possible by other families’ poverty and not just your collective hard work, but try to bear in mind that your discomfort does not mean anyone is doing anything wrong.
    VarunaTTSP29
  • To start, I thought the title was "I'm 1%'er and my coworkers are trash" because I cannot read lol


    If LW is near when the conversation is happening, they could just drop the "You know, not all of them are like that ..." and that opens it up to mentioning that they're part of 1% life and that your family is hard working.

    LW also has to know why people think 1%'ers are lazy .... change the stereotype!
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  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya
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    mrsconn23 said:
    I disagree with Prudie here; the LW is not solely responsible for the financial state of this country (which of course is effed up). I don't think it's the reminder of the family's wealth that is upsetting LW, but her judgemental co-workers. I do think the co-workers are doing something wrong when they're saying an entire group of people are evil and lazy. If the co-workers were criticizing the system that led to the massive accumulation of wealth, the inequalities that are created by our economic & political structure, or the tax system designed to perpetuate the 1% I'd completely agree with them. But that's not what's happening here. 

    Exactly.  The co-irkers are not having a debate or insightful discussion.  Prudie's response is "STFU and go cry in your money."  What?

    In any other situation, you're told to judge a person on the merits of their character/work ethic/skill/etc.  Why is this any different? 

    Exactly. Prudie's response sounds like a certain one-upper around here wrote it...
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    mrsconn23TrixieJessahoywedding
  • lovesclimbinglovesclimbing Alaska
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    I read this and soooooo disagreed with Prudie. Switch this around to any other scenario, and her advice would be different. What if this person was in poverty but had gotten a high end job and everyone at work was trashing poor people? It's not ok to trash anyone, particularly at work. You can't just decide that some people are ok to trash. You don't know anyone's background. 

    I really want to send the exchange to the Ask a Manager blog because I really want Alison Green to put Prudie in her place!

    thisismynickname2STARMOON44
  • I can understand why the LW doesn't want to disclose their background to his/her coworkers.  Unfortunately, although unfair, it might color how they view this person.  But I think there is nothing wrong and could even give people a different perspective to point out that, just because someone is born with a silver spoon in their mouth, doesn't make them a ne'er do well or bad person.

    And, while it's not okay to disparage a group of people, I think the LW also needs to keep in mind a bit where it comes from.  The LW said it themself.  This person works because they LIKE to.  Not because they HAVE to.  They have never had to trade their time...the most precious and scarce resource that any of us have...for money, just to survive.  Their life experience and probably perspective is extremely different from the average person's.  It's not their fault and it doesn't make them a bad person.  However, that's a pretty big slice of life that the other 99% of the population experiences that they aren't going to be able to relate to, at least on a personal level.

    They don't personally know what it's like to choose between food or electricity, in a bad month.  They've never had a pit in their stomach and extreme worry because they were just laid off.  They have never had a medical emergency or condition ruin their credit or force them into bankruptcy.  I could give dozens of more examples.   

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  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe
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    Another vote for "Pudie missed the mark BIGTIME" with that response!  Actually, that response makes me MAF and perpetuates the cultural divide and negative thinking that locks people into generational levels thinking that "they can't transcend into a life that their great-great grandchildren will reap the benefits there-of." or "THOSE PEOPLE" or "NOBODY is worth THAT" - well, yes they are because someone is paying them to perform their job at that level of pay...  It's the saying "Shaq is rich - the guy who pays Shaq is wealthy!" when he was still playing.  

    LW needs to use her words and put the judgmental @$$es in their place!  SNS - there's a way to do this diplomatically and using those etiquette/decorum skills she learned growing up in the environment LW did that she has the opportunity to choose a career for love over money!  It's like Planet Fitness saying they're a "judgment free zone" - they're the biggest judgmental place on the planet!
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  • levioosalevioosa Southern California
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    VarunaTT said:
    Oh please.  This is totally a "#notall -- fill in a privileged class".  Prudie is right on the mark and far nicer than I would be if confronted with this woman.

    And especially since it sounds like she's working in a field with people who are members of a marginalized class (and totally sounds like she wants a cookie for it), maybe her little wee feelings of discomfort can take a backgoddamn seat for once. 

    This is like Kaitlyn Jenner complaining about not understanding transgender issues.  And that's true, b/c Jenner's money cocoons her from a LOT of issues that the majority of transgender people go through, including employment!

    ETA:  This isn't about politics.  This is about punching up vs. punching down in economic inequality issues.  It also sounds like she CAN make 30 percent of what she could be b/c of this generational wealth that she didn't earn.  *eyeroll*  
    I’m with Varuna. This person made a big deal out of mentioning how little she makes in comparison to what she could be making. The reality is her incredible privilege has allowed her to take a job making less than she otherwise could, maybe even in a job that for other people would still be less than needed to make ends meet (I’m thinking social work or something like that). I get that you shouldn’t judge people, but LW is just coming off a little entitled to me. 


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    VarunaTTSP29ahoyweddingsparklepants41
  • LW should just go ahead and say “that’s not the case 100% of the time- my family is in the 1% and here I am working”.  I’d say it once just to let them know, and then drop it.  If the coworkers are open-minded they may even want to know more about his/her family.
    MesmrEweshort+sassyahoywedding
  • SP29SP29
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    This is what I agreed with from Prudie's response, "You say that you feel a responsibility to “give back,” but while it’s true that you might be able to get a higher-paying job elsewhere (or presumably choose not to work at all), you are in fact paid for the work that you do. That’s not volunteering or charity—you perform a job, just like everyone else you work with."

    I do agree, LW's co-workers shouldn't be judging all wealthy people for being lazy or trust fund babies. Many wealthy people work hard for their money- long hours, years spent in post secondary education, own their own business, etc.  BUT LW does position herself as "taking this job to give back", and Prudie is right, LW is working in a job, not giving to charity. It gives off the, "my coworkers are judging me... but I AM better".
    mrsconn23kimmiinthemittenlevioosaahoywedding
  • The more I've been thinking about this letter, the more I've been wondering if the LW's coworkers are truly making harsh, mean, and disparaging comments about the 1%.

    Or is it more the kind of flippant with a touch of jealousy comments that people occasionally make about the really wealthy, ie "must be nice!"

    Beeccaaauuusseee, the latter example is much more of what I have heard and even said myself, as opposed to a "wealthy people are evil" attitude.

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  • Ro041Ro041
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    @short+sassy that is what I was thinking.  Like, how often does anyone in their office setting just sit around and chew the fat about 1%ers?  I know at my job, we mostly talk about work and what's going on in our personal lives.  What job exists in the "giving back" realm where people just stand around complaining about 1%ers?

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  • Ro041 said:
    @short+sassy that is what I was thinking.  Like, how often does anyone in their office setting just sit around and chew the fat about 1%ers?  I know at my job, we mostly talk about work and what's going on in our personal lives.  What job exists in the "giving back" realm where people just stand around complaining about 1%ers?
    I've been noodling over that too.  I definitely need to know more about her office culture.  

    But I do know of people in my office that sit around and talk about the same old shit (complaints)...so maybe it's really just one person who's got a real problem and no one else disagrees with them?  

    I think LW needs to 'read the room' and figure out if this is a hill to die on and/or continue to let these comments get to them or if they need to buck up and do their job.  Or maybe just go where they can make that 30% more? 
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