From the beginning of college, I have always had a job. Sure I had a scholarship and paid in-state tuition, but having shopping and going out money was always high on my list of priorities. By senior year I had worked enough odd jobs to single-handedly open my own one-stop-shop of goods and services. From waiting tables to law firms, I had seen every form of pay known to the unskilled laborer.
After four years of floundering, I got my diploma and figured I was in for riches beyond my wildest dreams. When I was finally offered a job, I was told there would be a salary and benefits. My brain could not even comprehend the concept. They don’t give you vacation days when you’re scrapping for minimum wage shifts at your college town dive bar. But here I was- I had finally arrived.
Growing up, your high school teachers pounded the Pythagorean Theorem into your brain until your ears bled, but they didn’t tell you shit about taxes. Let me break it down for you, “Rain Man” style.
When you get your paycheck, you think you will receive a lump sum of money each month from your company. However, what you actually get is a bi-monthly disappointment. After federal and state taxes, social security, and whatever you put into your savings, you’re left with only a fraction of what you thought you were making. Too bad tax evasion is a federal offense, am I right?
I used to fall asleep at night dreaming of my new car and picking up the bar tab when I went out with all my sad, part-time employed pals. Those dreams were decidedly dashed the moment I opened my first check. Growing up is rough, and it’s made more difficult by the fact that our entry-level jobs barely pay us enough to keep our Netflix subscriptions afloat.
This rant isn’t going to end on a sour note, though. I’m grateful for a job that pays me enough–at the end of the day, I can pay my due to the old US of A every time I score a buck. I’ve come a long way from my days slinging tomatoes at the local farmers’ market at 7 a.m. on a Saturday. And getting paid while I take a day off? That’s the real American Dream.
So sit back, relax, and let that faux pay check pride fly. Every lie is only as good as you make it.