Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Radical Redefinition of the Word "Need"

This gem turned up on a job chat today on Washingtonpost.com:

Are you kidding me?: Of course you need six-figures. I would like to know how anyone manages to make ends meet in the D.C. area on LESS THAN six-figures. I have no debt, except a small mortgage. I can hardly get by on what I make and I am DESPERATELY trying to get a higher-paying job. With gas prices, Metro prices (about to go up probably), housing costs, and even the price of a good tomato all skyrocketing in this area, a household income of six figures in this area seems average to me, not outrageous. The truth is, people here usually MAKE A LOT MORE than the low six-figures ...

What sort of alternate reality Washington does this person live in? I've been around here a long time, and I have no clue why people would need a six-figure salary for survival. Well, OK, I can think of a few:

1. This person is supporting a dozen children by three separate exes.
2. This person has misplaced a decimal point somewhere.
3. This person needs to radically redefine their notion of the word "need."

All you "need" is food and shelter. I make considerably less than six figures (uh, CONSIDERABLY less) and I have everything I need, and a little bit of what I want. I don't need "a good tomato", because the Safeway ones are just as good as the ones from Whole Paycheck. I need transportation, so I take Metro or walk. Not everyone lives near Metro, sure, but you can buy the cheapest car that suits your needs. I understand that it's expensive to support a family, but the earlier kids learn the difference between "want" and "need," the better off they'll be.

Nobody needs a big house or a nice car. Nobody needs fancy tomatoes, new clothes, or to eat out more than once a week. Nobody needs a six-figure salary. If I ever reach a state in which I all-capital-letters DESPERATELY need a new job, because a six-figure salary isn't enough, then I've lost track of what matters. Or I've gotten hold of some really gnarly hallucinogenics.

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