I had a couple come through my line at Old Navy last weekend and they were obviously in a fight but trying not to fight loudly in front of me, so it was on a soft pause, which I appreciate. I say the fight was obvious because they had been doing that quiet but angry talk while they were walking up, but once they got to me, they both stopped talking for a minute.
Quick side note to say: I understand that some conversations are important, but they can almost always wait until after your interaction with another human is done. It is nearly always awkward when you try to either have a conversation during a transaction, because it forces me to interrupt you, or involve me in a conversation, because there is usually quite a bit of backstory that I would need to be brought up to speed, and generally not enough time to cover everything. This is any conversation. Multiply the effects by about three when it's an argument.
Okay, back to this fight. The pause didn't last very long at all, unfortunately. For awhile I couldn’t tell what it was about, but I figured it out eventually because they awkwardly involved me (see above).
I’m going to spare you the details of exactly how our conversation played out so that I eventually gained all this information, because it was very piecemeal.
Here is the gist. The couple are engaged, and she wants a prenup, but he doesn’t. This is something they have been fighting about already, but the fight at the register was something more specific.
I’m assuming he has already laid out all the reasons he doesn’t want a prenup and she has detailed all the reasons she wants one, and now they’re at the point where they’re arguing to make a decision.
So here’s what she was mad about: He said something along the lines of, “It’s weird that you’re the one who wants a prenup since I’m going to be the higher wage earner.”
This is the point at which I got involved in the conversation, because the woman turned to me and said, “Well maybe now that Hillary is going to be in charge we can get that pay gap sorted out and I can earn just as much, huh?”
I agreed wholeheartedly.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me give you some life advice. Unless your plan in life is that one of you is going to be a doctor and the other is going to be a stay at home parent, do not ever -- EVER -- even think about saying or implying to your significant other that you will be making more money than them. It’s a huge mistake.
And it's honestly just dumb. Even if your fields have incredibly disparate earning expectations, you really never know how your earning trajectory is going to go. You could be in the mid-range of a lucrative field and your wife could be at the higher end of a middling field and she could end up making significantly more than you. Or one or both of you might change careers a few years from now.
You just never know, and even if you're not trying to be condescending, "You're going to make less money than me long-term" just can't be taken any other way.
Toward the end of the transaction, the wife-to-be said, "Oh my god! I should start recording you so you know how rude you sound."
This was an accidental paraphrase of Emily Gilmore, who tells Richard during an argument that she is going to get a tape recorder so he can "hear how pompous and condescending" he sounds.
I wanted to mention the Gilmore Girls parallel, but it wasn't a good time.