Friday, January 14, 2022

Microstory 1800: A Life Well-Earned

I was born into a very wealthy family, which only got wealthier with each generation. None of us was allowed to rest on our laurels, and relax. We had a system in place. Parents were expected to take care of their children, and give them just about anything they wanted (within reason). Once they turned 18, their college would be paid for, and everything that goes with that, like food and lodging. Any purchases they wanted beyond that had to be approved, and were always contingent upon extremely good grades. No one was expected to join the family business, but they had to do something with their lives. They had to live up to our name, whether that meant doing as they were told by their betters, or striking out on their own. A well-rounded education was vital to this. You were cut off once you turned 26, regardless of how prepared you were. The idea was to give everyone enough time to finish their undergraduate studies, plus their graduate studies—if they so chose to continue their education—and also begin pulling in their own income. There was no trust, there were no allowances. Everybody had to make their own way, at least after spending a quarter of their lives learning how to do that. I know, I know, this all sounds very ridiculous to normal people, but what would you have us do, reject our family money as soon as we could speak? That wouldn’t have done anyone any good, would it? For my part, actually, I didn’t even let my family do this much for me. I let them pay for tuition, books, and other educational expenses, but I paid for food, and my own place to live. I had a job while I was there, which was smarter than my siblings and cousins, because I learned a lot more about the labor force than they did from their ivory towers. I wouldn’t say that I struggled, but I certainly worked harder than the rest of them. I was at least closer to seeing what real life was like for most people.

Rich people have problems too, and I don’t mean to sound like we don’t, but I always tried to be careful with my perspective. The fact is that I had an easy life, and people like me have a responsibility to use our privilege to help others as possible. What better way to support those people than to provide them with jobs? No one wants to be a charity case. They don’t want you to just hand them stuff. They want to feel like they earned it. No, strike that from the record; they want to know that they undeniably earned it. Ya know, receiving free stuff activates the same part of the brain as incurring debt does. I mean...I don’t actually know that for sure, but it sounds right, so it probably is. People hate to feel like what they have isn’t really theirs, and I chose to do my part to alleviate that for them. I paid my employees fair wages, and I treated them fairly. Sure, if you read the statistics, it sounds like workers were generally unhappy in their positions, but that data is always skewed. Only the loudest and angriest of people are going to fill out those surveys. Content people tend to be too happy to bother telling other people about why. And sure, my company technically pays most jobs on the left side of that bell curve, but that doesn’t matter. That isn’t what my organization is about. What I found—and this is another one of those things that my relatives never understood—is that an employee would much rather be validated by their superiors than just be given more money. Money doesn’t make you smile. Money can’t buy you monthly division birthday parties, and great online coupons. Well, I guess it does, but family doesn’t need that from each other. That’s what we are at the company; a family. I couldn’t die prouder.

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