On a recent visit at the hair salon, I was reminded of a crappy memory from the not-too-distant past.
My hairdresser had just gone through a breakup, and her ex was trying to bug her to get back with him. She was over the situation, and ready to move on. Like many men in that position, his pride was wounded and he resorted to lashing out at her in any way that he could think of.
When she started cutting my hair, she said “I need to tell you this. Because it’s so funny that I want to laugh. In this relationship, I made more money than him. And it bothered him SO much. Now, he’s trying to put me down, making fun of the fact that I’m a hairdresser.”
My jaw dropped.
“But what does he do?!” she continued. “He’s a delivery driver. And he’s making fun of ME.”
“Send him some f-bombs from me,” I commiserated.
Though she was obviously pissed and laughing about it, I’m sure that somewhere deep down his words were cutting. Why did this nobody, this guy who was doing a job that basically anyone could do, feel the need to mock her profession which requires constant training and improvement of her skills? The only logical reason that I could think of was that her rejection of him made him need to lash out, to build himself back up by making her beneath him if only in his own mind.
This story hit far too close to home for me in remembering my last breakup. We’d parted ways after a year and a half, as I’d realized that I was no longer in love with him. There were a multitude of issues that we’d tried to work on, but it had been too late.
During one of our many calls at the time of the breakup, trying to hash things out and resolve them to a point where we both had piece, he shocked me by blurting out, “I knew that this was going nowhere when you got your new job. I mean, let’s face it. I’m a teacher, and quite honestly, you’re an hourly worker. You could get a job anywhere- why didn’t you even LOOK near me?” (an hour away, near Philly)
WHAT?! An HOURLY WORKER?? Who the hell SAYS that?! And that makes me the less important earner in the relationship just because I get paid hourly? What messed-up parallel universe are you living in?!
For the duration of the relationship, I always got the feeling that it bothered him that I wasn’t using my music degree. He also had a degree in music- Bachelor’s from a less impressive college than mine, and a Master’s in Jazz. With which he had managed to get himself a position as a long-term substitute. Not a full-time teaching job with the opportunity for tenure. A one year position while a teacher was on sabbatical. He had no guarantee of employment for the next school year, yet he felt comfortable enough to put me down.
He was constantly letting little things slip, and at times went as far as attempting to teach ME about music, while at concerts or watching various musical performances on tv. It took me finally saying ‘SAX GUY. I have a DEGREE in this. I KNOW what the hell a trombone is,” before he backed off a little.
The fact that I chose to take time off from school to decide if I actually wanted to use my degree in music performance bothered him. That being a pharmacy tech was a good fit for me and that I loved my job bothered him more. Unlike him, I had a permanent position with plenty of room for advancement. But my choice of job didn’t require a college degree. And that wasn’t good enough.
“You’re just an HOURLY WORKER,” became the unofficial slogan of that breakup. It was repeated as a joke at family parties or on nights out with the girls. And it served as validation that I’d made the right choice in ending that relationship.
Perhaps the most obvious evidence to that came from a phone call from my Aunt after the fact. She was just giving me support, letting me know that she and my cousins were there if I should be down or need to talk. As she closed the phone call, she added, “And by the way. Your Uncle (An airline pilot) is an hourly worker. Your cousin (a nurse) is an hourly worker. Don’t EVER let your pay rate determine your value as a person.”
I shared that story with my hairdresser the other afternoon. It was great to see the same flash of recognition on her face as she “got it.” Hopefully she knows that this guy is a loser with a pencil dick small person who gets off on making other people feel smaller than him, and that she’s kick-ass.
That’s really all there is to it.