Advice

Job of the Day: Pharmacist

Here’s a career path you might not have considered, buried within this largely depressing piece about how much part-time work sucks, via Bloomberg:

“Does a highly-paid, relatively short-hour, moderately high education, majority-female occupation sound too good to be true? It is true and the field is pharmacy,” write Harvard labor economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz in a paper calling pharmacist “the most egalitarian of all professions.” As big retail chains expanded, replacing independent pharmacist-owned shops, they offered part-time work at relatively high wages. As a result, women flooded into the field. “Because of the extensive work flexibility and low pecuniary penalty to short hours, female pharmacists with currently active licenses take little time off during their careers even when they have children,” the economists write.

But if demanding unpredictable hours from cashiers and clerks is good for business efficiency, why isn’t the same true for pharmacists, who work short hours in similar retail environment? The most likely explanation is that pharmacists, unlike cashiers and clerks, can legally trade money for more predictable hours. Their median wage is $58 an hour, which leaves a lot of wiggle room.

Not bad, right? USNews concurs, scoring the job of a Pharmacist 8.1 out of a possible 10 and ranking it #5 on their list of Top 100 Jobs, period. And yet in my entire life, though I know plenty of folks whose grandparents worked at drug stores, probably making egg creams, I’m not sure I’ve encountered anyone who’s said, “I want to be a pharmacist.” Not sexy enough? Somehow off the radar? Why are we not all behind the counter, dispensing drugs with a smile?

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The Massage Conundrum: WWYD?

Trigger warning: This is 110% a First World Problem. Read on at your own risk.

As a birthday present, my mother gave me what we call Frivolous Dollars — money that must be spent on oneself in an indulgent way, rather than saved — and insisted that I earmark the cash for massage and ice cream. She did so because she knows that I have a tendency, when given money, to stash it away immediately. Even when I was a kid, that was my impulse; the top drawer of my dresser became the family bank. Everyone knew they could rely on me to lend out the cash I had laid away there, which I did, faithfully, until it was gone.

I feel incredibly grateful that I have a mother who can remember & recognize birthdays, even for adult children who live several states away. When I was little, she used to sneak into my room in the middle of the night and decorate with streamers, signs, and balloons, so that when I woke up on July 19th it would be to a world transformed. (Mike Dang will totally do that for his kids, btw.) And she also knows that I, like most people, generally prefer experiences over things. So: perfect A+ present, mom! I feel loved & understood. Thanks!

She found a deal online for a place in Manhattan that is offering a discounted bundle of massages. Three for $149 instead of the usual price of $300! Amazing. Even when I do treat myself to a massage — like, say, after going through childbirth — I only do one, and the therapist is usually like, “Wow, your back is like a wall!” and I say, “Ha ha, yeah, I know!” and though the massage feels great there isn’t much/any lasting effect. But three massages? That might actually make some kind of dent in my Shoulder Wall of Constant Stress & Pain.

On the other hand, I haven’t ever been to that particular spa. The place I have gone, and know I enjoy, is around the corner from me in Brooklyn. That means it gets points for proximity and familiarity. With the frivolous dollars, I could afford one, maybe two massages there. So what would you do? Three at the unknown, further away place, or one, maybe two at the place you already know closer to home?

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On Not Being Lonely About Labor

Over at n+1, a reader writes into Kristin Dombek at the Help Desk, asking for help to cope with her feeling of being exploited by work, and the “white-hot festering rage that runs at all times in the background of my day to day.”

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How Do You Deal With Your Nightmare Coworkers?

Rhik Samadder at the Guardian has a few admirable suggestions. His first option is “Make friends” which is obviously NOT realistic so moving on. The third option is “War of Attrition” which I really respect but just isn’t for me. The second one, though, involves passivity and delusion, two things I am GREAT at:

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Millennial “Earnings Hangovers” And How to Fight Them

We all know how to treat a regular hangover: drink! No, silly, not more Smirnoff Ice, aka, the hair of the dog that bit you; lots of water or soda water, juice, and coffee. Sprite. Pedialyte. Eating can help, although I’ve heard arguments both for and against fatty foods. Ibuprofen (not Tylenol, which, like liquor and/or in combination with it, can damage your liver). Waiting. But how does one deal with the earnings hangover that one did not bring on oneself by partying but simply by graduating at the wrong time?

Students entering the job market in 2010 and 2011 took a 19 percent pay cut from what they could have expected without a recession, according to economists at Yale University in New HavenConnecticut – about double the penalty in prior downturns. … That reality is haunting a segment of millennials, the 82 million people born between 1981 and about 2000. Full-time 25-to 34-year-old workers saw income erode to a median of $38,000 in 2012 from $38,760 in 2007, based on National Center for Education Statistics data. Salaries for bachelor’s degree-or-higher grads fell to $49,950 from $52,990 in 2007.

It gets … not better:

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Concerning Eschewing Ivies and Raising Working-Class Heroes

On the heels of Ester’s exploration of trust fund kids (my position: don’t trust ‘em), I came upon this rather wide-ranging indictment of elite colleges and the admissions process in the New Republic: in short, the author avers, the Ivies squelch creativity, channel thinking and energy into a narrow set of endeavors, reinforce privilege, and perpetuate the illusion of a meritocracy: “This system is exacerbating inequality, retarding social mobility, perpetuating privilege, and creating an elite that is isolated from the society that it’s supposed to lead.”

And the cause (aside from, you know, how rich people always set stuff up to benefit themselves)?

Not increasing tuition, though that is a factor, but the ever-growing cost of manufacturing children who are fit to compete in the college admissions game. The more hurdles there are, the more expensive it is to catapult your kid across them. Wealthy families start buying their children’s way into elite colleges almost from the moment they are born: music lessons, sports equipment, foreign travel (“enrichment” programs, to use the all-too-perfect term)—most important, of course, private-school tuition or the costs of living in a place with top-tier public schools.

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The Last (Profane but Awesome) Word on Weddings

Samantha at Bitches Gotta Eat decided to answer every wedding etiquette question you can imagine, and she does it with aplomb, if by “aplomb” you mean “caustic honesty, jokes, and lots of cuss words.” For example, if you are invited to someone’s destination wedding, do you still bring/send a present and, if so, a present that represents the same amount of money you would spend on the couple if you weren’t also shelling out for airfare, hotel, etc? Samantha’s answer:

if i were you i would: 1 buy a first class ticket, for sure; 2 invest in a good quality jersey dress because ironing in a hotel is the lamest, you should be drunk; 3 fuck every dude you make eye contact with over that cocktail you’re sipping out of a coconut, and 4 get those assholes a giftcard in the checkout line at the grocer. congratulations, guys! please enjoy your dinner at ruby tuesday!

My (deep down secret) thoughts exactly. She also answers the even pricklier question of Plus Ones.

should we put “and guest” on the invitations addressed to our single friends?

man, fuck you and fuck this. YOU CHEAP BASTARDS. of course you should. the only thing worse than being a smug single person at some asshole’s stupid wedding is being a smug single person at some asshole’s stupid wedding with no one awesome to talk shit about it to. as much as i don’t want to burden you with that extra $75 lukewarm chicken breast spent on some dude i found on craigslist, just think of it as an insurance policy that i won’t fuck your reception all the way up with my drunk crying and vomit-flavored hiccups.

Do yourself a favor and scroll through the full list. Can’t guarantee agreement; can guarantee catharsis.

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Fear-Based Spending

Let me start by saying that safety is good, and it is sensible to spend money on it. The auto industry howled miserably about the terrible increase in manufacturing costs that would accompany mandatory seatbelts, but it was probably worth it, because seatbelts save a lot of lives. But the line between prudent precaution and baseless fear can be hard to see, and can lead us to expend effort and money on the prevention of remote risks.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with an abundance of caution (except, you know, when there is), but it’s interesting to consider the sensible and not-so-sensible ways we spend money. I doubt anyone ever went broke buying a Brita water filter in New York City, but it is basically a waste of $25 in a city with some of the finest tap water in the country. And why spend an extra $100 to have a baby video monitor rather than an audio model? Have you ever watched a baby sleep? It is boring. (Besides, the audio version is perfectly adequate for sitting on your across-the-street neighbor’s stoop and having a margarita after your infant is in bed. Or so I’ve heard.)

And yet, we spend this money.

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So You’ve Decided To Join The CSA

It’s that time of year again. I’m seeing flyers in coffee shops and boyfriends lugging bags of soil back from the hardware store and imagining people in urban areas everywhere shouting to each other at parties, “So, you guys doing the whole CSA thing this year?”

Oh god.

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A Father-Daughter Duo Answers Your Questions: Balancing a Relationship With Financial Differences

Here’s the problem: my boyfriend has HUGE student loan debt. Like, staggeringly large. His salary is pretty low… which doesn’t bother me except that he’s barely making any inroads on paying off his debt, and doesn’t really have a plan to do so. I don’t mind being the bigger contributor to our rent, bills, etc., but I don’t want to sink my life savings into paying off his debt, not least because of the, let’s face it, entirely real possibility of future break-up or divorce. A girl’s gotta be practical.

Photo: Vinoth Chandar

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Cars, Houses, And other Millennial Milestones

Millennial milestones! We hit them, sometimes, just differently than our parents did. For example, Nicole of the Toast bought a car — over email:

Figure out exactly what car you want to buy. Do this online. Do not walk into a dealership. The internet is literally stuffed with rankings and reviews and Best Mid-Price Blue Sedans lists. “Shouldn’t I test drive some cars?” No. Can you drive a car? You’re set. … Say “Hi! I’ll be doing this over email. I would like to purchase a 2014 Model X with the extra-fire package. What is your best price on that?” At this point, I received a very rapid response from each of my two dealers. Dealer One said: “That model is retailing for Money, I can offer you a discount which will bring it down to Money – $1000.” Dealer Two said: “I would have to order that in for you special, so it would probably cost Money.” NOW THE DANCE BEGINS.

Her full account, festooned with pictures of American hero Kathy Bates in various cinematic guises, is charming, full of advice about how to both spend as little money as possible AND how to avoid having condescending car-selling dudes mansplain financing to you, in part by eschewing phone conversations altogether. Bonus: she bought this vehicle with money earned from being a misandrist ladyblogger. What’s more millennial than that?

Oh, I don’t know, how about buying your first house with your friends?

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Do You Owe a Present to a Bride Who Owes You Money?

In today’s Carolyn Hax advice column at the Washington Post, someone wants to know whether they need to get a wedding gift for a deadbeat bride who happens to also be a relative. As in all good advice-column questions, you can feel the heat of the writer’s anger rising in waves off the screen:

Dear Carolyn:

Do I buy the bride-to-be a wedding gift, even though she owes me money she borrowed and never paid back? I’m not the only person to whom she owes money, by the way. It’s like we’re paying for her wedding because she’s kept the money and it rankles to have to fork out more cash to buy a gift. It complicates matters that she’s a family member. Is there a polite way to say your wedding gift is that you don’t have to pay me back?

J.

I love this question because the letter writer “J.” clearly believes the answer should be “No, Of Course You Shouldn’t Have To Get This Dumbquat A Present; How Dare She Get Married When She Owes You Money? She Should Be Glad You’re Even Going To Her Farce of a Ceremony.” J. is writing because J.–who I will assign the gender ze/zir for clarity’s sake–wants zir righteous indignation confirmed. I love righteous indignation. I love how enraged entitled people get when faced with other people’s entitlement. 

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