Monday, April 10, 2006

Question drill

Sometimes in class, I do a question drill. It's a little exercise where I fire off ten questions and challenge the students to answer as quickly and accurately as possible. It goes something like this:

What's your name?
Where do you live?
How long have you lived there?
Who do you live with?
And what time is it right now?
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
Where do you work?
What's your telephone number?
When did you wake up this morning?
How much money do you make?

And then there is always an uncomfortable moment, and I burst out laughing. Because, of course, that last question crosses the boundary of, well, questions. Is it ever appropriate (outside of one's spouse) to discuss salary? Personally, I've never had a problem revealing mine to anyone. I am neither boastful nor ashamed. It is what it is. So it amuses me helplessly when people refuse to answer this. (Not that I pester people about it, but it has come up.) I have one friend in particular who finally, after knowing him for over a decade, revealed his salary. (But only, I suspect, because it is a new job with a very boastable wage.) There are other taboo questions in our society of course. Sometimes instead of that last question, I'll use, "How much do you weigh?" But only with really advanced students, most of the time they are confused by the sense and think "way".....not so funny. When they get it though, that's funny.

Just a little glimpse there of my sadistic side.

18 comments:

Snooze said...

I was always raised to never discuss money (including how much things cost), but I think it would be better to be open. It's more a management control issue to not let staff know what everyone makes.

CoffeeDog said...

One of my co-workers and I decided, on a whim, to share salaries. He makes more than me and we basically do the same sort of thing. I wasn't suprised nor dismayed. At one time he held a managers position and probably got the bump during that stint. I probably got raises when he didn't, since he makes a lot more than I do. Our former manager is very tight and probably would not give out raises to those who were already above the normal level for the dept.

toobusyliving said...

It's nice to see that other people enjoy schadenfreude as much as I do.

St. Dickeybird said...

I've never understood the salary issue either. I think it's a meaningless competitive thing.

_Psycho said...

You should ask them the same questions when you go in the US at the custom. Always usefull. But I don't remember them all ;)

Where are you born ?
Where are you going ?
How much time you going to be there?
Are you the owner of this car ?
Do you have a criminal record ?
Do you carry more than 10,000$ on you ?
Do you carry any ......

And a couples more I always forgot !

Steven said...

I'm always taken aback when someone asks, "So, how much money do you make?"

Instead of registering shock (which I am) on my face, I typically answer with, "Enough."

Chunks said...

I made $826 last year, and I'm not ashamed to admit it!

I come from the line of thinking that money is money. Everyone is basically broke, just in different tax brackets. (Well, unless you are one of those people who hoard every dime and count every penny, then I don't even know what to say about that!)

GayProf said...

The money question would not bother me. When I first went to grad school, though, I was shocked (SHOCKED!) that one of the first questions my fellow students asked me was "What religion are you?" We just never would have thought to ask such a loaded question upon first meeting somebody. It's like asking somebody "So, who did you vote for in the last election?" within five minutes of meeting them. Those seem like fighting questions.

Dantallion said...

I'm one of those that won't answer that question. Partly because I don't wish to disclose my salary, and partly because it's just enough out of line that I'm always a little incredulous when someone has the nerve to ask it.

Spider said...

At least you don't ask the men how big their dicks are - but I guess some would even answer that...

Jason said...

That's an easy answer (re: dicks). In Quebec they are LARGE. Just my experience.

madamerouge said...

Gawd I miss Quebec.

Patricia said...

i like that you have somewhat naughty commenters. is that wrong?

Edgy Mama said...

You're sooooo mean!

I get thrown by the religion question as well--which gets asked a lot down here in the South.

Sunshine said...

It's hard to answer that question because you don't want to make someone feel like shit if they earn half of what you earn and you don't want to make yourself look like a tool if you earn half of what they earn. Hmm, does that make sense??!! :P

nongirlfriend said...

Ha, thank you for the glimpse!

Lyvvie said...

When anyone asks me how me how much money I make, I answer with "I'm not a counterfeiter you know!" and wait for their reaction.

jjd said...

I think the response: "a hell of alot more than you!" might be appropos!

ok, not really. I'd probably (and have) told people if they ask me directly, but I can imagine being in a situation where that would make me feel uncomfortable. Money defines many aspects of US and society, whether you want it to or not putting a figure on one's "worth" in that respect is a sensitive question.

giymim: "Jim!" wow. deep.