I’m depressed. Parade magazine put out its annual issue of “what people earn” . . . and, I am depressed. Somewhere I have been short changed.
Now I know that I am not a professional athlete—not even a good weekend warrior, and will never come close to earning the 19 million that Serena Williams earns each year for hitting a little yellow ball back and forth while grunting like a stuck pig. Maybe if I could win a gold medal at the Olympics I could pick up a couple of million . . . Gabrielle Douglas, age 17, earns a cool 10.25 million a year. I am also not a singer—if that is what you think Justin Beiber does for approximately 33 million a year. Adele, she is so good she only has one name, makes 32 million a year. God didn’t bless me with a voice that can sing. Nor, am I an actor like Brad Pitt who earns a cool 35.5 million a year . . . or Sofia Vergara who earns 21 million a year . . . but, I should get something for those times when I have to be contrite to the wife for screwing up . . . at least a nomination for an Oscar or a Razzie. That should be worth a couple of bucks! It is good acting! I am not worthy of what these individuals get paid for what they do . . . whether or not what they do is of value to most of the world.
The annual report of peoples’ earnings is always fascinating to me . . . fascinating because I am nosey like everyone else and want to know what other people make. I want to know so I can see how I stack up . . . and, what I am learning is that I don’t stack up very well. I am being short changed. I am grossly underpaid. Being grossly underpaid, I always begin to think that maybe it is time for a career change. Looking at what others make for what they do, I thought I could do that too.
For example, I saw that one lady was making $250,000 a year as a bridal shop owner. I know a thing or two about weddings . . . but most of that experience is on the short end of the stick. I could do it . . . until I start thinking about how wasteful most weddings are . . . lots of money spent on nothing. I probably wouldn’t do well as I would encourage couples to elope and save their money for the future. Buy a six-pack, see the county judge, and save a couple of thousands of dollars. Bridal shop owner probably would not earn me much more than I am already making.
I saw that a sign language interpreter makes about $12,000 a year—way under what I make a year, but I do know sign language. True it has been years (many years) since I have used my ability to sign, but I use sign all of the time . . . especially commuting back and forth from the big city. But I do not think that there is much demand for a signer who basically uses one sign that means “good luck” in Hawaiian. It is a sign I do well . . . it has got to be worth something to someone.
A Zumba instructor makes $24,000 a year . . . but that sounds like a lot of work. I am tired thinking about it. I saw where a sports columnist in Salt Lake City makes $64,993 a year reporting on sports. I like sports, I can string a couple of sentences together and, I know the difference between football and “football”. Shoot, I thought that if someone could make nearly 65 thousand a year in a city like Salt Lake City writing about sports where there are no sports . . . what could I make a year? A bookstore owner in Florida makes $9,600 a year . . . I could never be a bookstore owner. I love books . . . I couldn’t sale the books because I would want to keep them all. I can see why she was so poorly paid. Being a book lover is not a career that pays.
The magazine listed one pastor on their list of what people earned. It was a pastor in Mississippi who was pulling in a cool $31,500 a year. Compared to her, my ministerial career is vastly underpaid. But who ever put a price on the “good news” . . . like the MasterCard advertisements say, it is priceless. Still, there was a little salary envy.
We live in a society that puts money on things to give it value . . . everything has a value it seems. I learned long ago that value is subjective and what one person values, another person sees none. I once thought that I could fund my whole retirement with sports cards . . . or beanie babies . . . I should pull out of that one in about another twenty years. A sports card or a beanie baby is only worth what someone will pay for it . . . most people won’t pay a whole heck of a lot. I think I got short changed in all of the hype.
We have all seen those MasterCard commercials that list off all of these expensive items—for example, going to a major league baseball game. They list the tickets (a couple of hundred), souvenirs (another couple of hundred), refreshments (about a hundred)—you get the picture as the money spent rings up. Then they hit you with a picture of a kid with a big smile and they say, “Priceless.” Yeah, I know, what they are trying to do is to get you to use their credit card at 20 percent interest, but they do touch on a truth . . . sometimes it is not the monetary value that is important, but the experience.
I cannot complain about the value of the life I have experienced . . . it has been priceless. I have been blessed by God to have been able to experience a wonderful life with a spouse who loves me, children who love and tolerate me, and a congregation that puts up with me. They have all allowed me to be a part of their lives and no amount of money could ever cover what I have received. I live in a beautiful place where God constantly blesses me with a wondrous gift that I can find nowhere else . . . glorious mountains, splendid sunrises and sunsets, lots of cool critters, and a peace and tranquility no amount of money could ever buy. I enjoy getting up and going to work at the university and at the church. Monetarily, I might be short changed . . . experientially, I am blessed.
Parade magazine focuses on what society thinks is important—money. I think they are missing the point. It is always about the money. Ask the lady who signs for people who cannot hear . . . or the lady who sells books . . . or the pastor who works all of the time. They do not do what they do for the money . . . they do not see their value based on the money in the bank. It is the opportunity to have the experience . . . make the relationships . . . and, to be blessed for the experience. Money cannot buy everything . . . but it sure doesn’t hurt. Nah, who am I trying to fool . . . I am actually pretty happy for what I am worth . . . it is priceless.