As a writer for a variety of online publications, I am an expert in walking on eggshells.
I could write a thesis on how to avoid offending, well, everyone: how to avoid body shaming, age shaming, wealth shaming, and relationship shaming. Pet shaming. Coffee order shaming.
But even I, the expert, was recently taught a valuable lesson in something completely new: job shaming.
Apparently, it’s not that hard to mortally offend someone when you start throwing major shade upon a certain job industry, only to find out that someone listening is working in the field.
As a doctor’s daughter, I am on the receiving end of job shaming all the time. You know, the usual – “Doctors are trying to wipe out humanity with the flu vaccine”, or, “Doctors never have pink jellybeans”, or, “Doctors have the worst handwriting! Do they write with their feet?” I usually laugh half-heartedly and take a mental note to give Dad some tips on jelly bean selection, genocide, and pen licenses.
But the shoe was on the other (script-writing) foot last week. I, dear readers, accidentally job-shamed a friend.
We were having a few drinks, you see. My girlfriends and I were unwinding over cocktails after a long week at work – and for me, an even longer appointment with my accountant to sort through the EOFY paperwork. It was stressful, expensive, and not exactly good news. I was on the war path.
“Seriously though,” I groaned over my amaretto sour, “why would you want to be an accountant? It’s like, the most boring job in the world.”
The girls nodded.
“What kind of sadist enjoys sitting around telling people how much money they’re about to lose to the tax man? Like, c’mon. Get a real job.”
And just as I went to launch into my third stanza of my impassioned anti-accountant soliloquy, one friend, Tandi, interrupted.
“Hold up, girl,” said my friend Tandi, eyebrow arched, “You know that I’m an accountant, right?”
I paused, the glacé cherry I was about to munch down on suspended in mid-air.
Blinking rapidly as I tried to figure out a way out of this increasingly awkward situation, Tandi continued.
“I studied a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Accounting and Management. AND I worked at Price Waterhouse Coopers. For seven years!”
There wasn’t much I could do but gulp down my drink, and hope she would too. Quickly.
For as long as I had known Tandi, she was a creative – not an accountant. After moving back from London a few years back, Tandi had started her own company, a boutique arts management consultancy, advising cultural institutions on key trends, innovation and business opportunities.
(In short, she studied numbers and trends for the type of folks who were more likely to have paint on their elbow, than an annual budget.)
It seemed impossible to reconcile my accountant – a middle-aged man in a short-sleeve business shirt who spent 75 minutes enquiring after the sheer volume of Ubers I was claiming for the last financial year – to my young, creative, entrepreneurial girlfriend. What gives?
Job shaming, that’s what.
Although, to be specific, my prejudice against accountants should really be filed under ‘nerd shaming’. As a through-and-through nerd myself, I have long since understood the general public’s attitude towards my type: we are lame and annoying, chronic blushers who don’t know how to rap-squat. Four eyes. Walking dictionaries.
But truth be told, I have always loved maths, and even considered a career in it. But the nerd-shaming was real: who liked maths? Maths was distinctly uncool when I was growing up, and for a teen who was already struggling with braces, a flat chest, and hair like steel wool; I wasn’t in any mood to make my life any harder.
Onwards into my tertiary education and eventually my career; the study of maths and accounting maintained its daggy reputation in my eyes.
Accountants were the rare breed, the outcasts, the ones who order a pink lemonade when the rest of the team are sipping martinis. Like, accountants might have a rainman ability to mentally split the bill 17 ways excluding GST, but you wouldn’t be caught dead near them on the dance floor, right? If I was aiming to be the Carrie Bradshaw in life, accountants always seemed like more of a…Miranda.
The life of an accountant seemed destined for beige pant-suits, filing cabinets, and women named Joyce who would time your toilet breaks. Accounting was imagined to be a fluorescent lit world of tax file numbers, calculators, receipts, and old vegemite sandwiches for lunch. Accounting was NOT cool, and accountants were NOT glamorous.
My long-held perceptions of accountants all came crashing down when I found out that my dear friend Tandi was one of them. One of them. An accountant. A numbers woman. But Tandi wasn’t a dag, nor the type to order pink lemonade.
And so a valuable lesson was learnt: thou shalt not job shame your friends.
Even the uncoolest jobs can be made awesome by the right person…in the same way the coolest jobs can be made lame by the wrong person. Like, this yoga teacher I had last week? She couldn’t even pronounce ‘vinyasa’ right. And she was so faux-spiritual. Who even becomes a yoga teacher anyway? They’re so –
Namaste, kids. Job shaming is bad.