Aren’t we all curious about how much others make? I am. I assume we all are.
Me and a close co-worker agreed to disclose our salaries to each other. We were both Cal grads, both starting our first full-time jobs. Yet he had a degree in Engineering and mine was…in English. He almost hit the roof when he realized our salaries were so closely aligned.
“CAL…ENGINEERING! Do you know how many nights I spent studying just to get my degree?”
“Look, don’t be so upset. I double-majored and I’m sure I spent just as much time studying as you did.”
“You were a liberal arts major. CAL ENGINEERING VERSUS ENGLISH! I don’t get it. I have an engineering degree from Cal. What did I do to deserve this pittance?”
I felt bad for him and better about myself. At least I wasn’t as screwed as I thought I was when I first signed my offer letter.
It’s very easy when you start out together, are at the same career level, and you’re all a bit tipsy from happy hour. They’re more friends than co-workers so you blatantly ask. “Ok, let’s just say what we make. On the count of three. 1…2…3…” My next job was with a startup and we all went out for drinks and fessed up. Luckily we all made about the same amount of money.
Post-business school, I’m pretty sure start groups come in making the same amount. Maybe managers have some leverage when it comes to the sign-on bonus or moving expenses. One of my managers grossed up my bonus so even after-taxes, it would come out to a nice big round number.
But I wasn’t expecting what happened the other day. I discovered how much every single person in my group makes. It was inadvertently shown to me from the low five figures to the high six figures. I know every single salary down to every single digit. The person who lifted up the piece of paper didn’t even realize it. The piece of paper holding the wage, the financial backbone for each employee was lifted up accidentally over and over. I have a mind for numbers and in that timeframe I memorized every single one. This information is extremely private for very very few people to know. But now I know.
And I’m pissed.