Judgement: What's in Your Wallet?

Profiling.....it isn't just a racial thing any longer. I don't think that anyone stops to realize that any assumptions made without hard evidence would constitute profiling. Profiling is another word for stereotyping and involves a limited amount of actual data from which all manner of things are inferred. Perhaps if we all stopped jumping to conclusions, which usually involves feeling pretty superior to the rest of humanity anyway, we could eliminate the need for terms like profiling and stereotyping. Maybe we need to not only reserve judgement, but perhaps refrain from making judgements at all. Can we get back to the notion that he who is sinless may cast the first stone? To the best of my knowledge, nobody is perfect, but yet it has become essential to the culture of self esteem to inflate our own worth by running down others. Seldom does somebody walk a mile in the other guy's moccasins before making judgement. We have become so self absorbed that our own views are the only ones that matter. And we have egos large enough to believe that everyone must proscribe to our viewpoint.

So what has set me off? Why am I ranting? I have experienced being victimized by profiling, not only on a personal level, but even on a professional and consumer level. And this profiling is even becoming institutionalized, woven into the fabric of our culture, making it much more difficult to overcome. Once upon a time, I had a decent job, and once upon a time, so did my husband. We were not wealthy, but we were reasonably comfortable and able to enjoy a few luxuries such as dinner out once in awhile, perhaps a cultural day at a museum. Circumstances of illness and unemployment served to turn that all upside down and inside out. Thirty years of work and saving, being responsible, is wiped out. The credit rating has gone by the boards along with all of our savings, investments, and even our insurance. And to add insult to injury, we are somehow considered personally responsible for the full extent of problems. I am not sure how the company you work for being sold is directly attributable to you personally, unless you happen to be one of the owners. I am not sure how a company who is floundering and decides that cutting staff to the bone is the way to survive tough economic times can be the responsibility of the employee who is cut. But there it is. Somehow, it is my fault that I found myself unemployed.

Admittedly, we are a youth obsessed culture. People expend huge amounts of money trying to appear younger than they are. The problem is, when unemployed, a prudent person does not expend huge amounts of money on the latest and greatest potions and treatments to hold back the signs of aging. Once upon a time, it used to be sufficient to go to the dentist regularly for cleanings and check up, but now, it is deemed essential to have whitening treatments. And if you have teeth that have been damaged over time, implants, caps, veneers, and crowns are the standard, pearly white of course. Prices for all these services are pretty costly, and also premised on you having dental insurance to pay a portion, which doesn't apply if you are unemployed. Therefore, not having perfectly straight, perfectly white teeth leads others to assume that you are slovenly and don't care about yourself. Therefore you will be slovenly in your work habits...See how this works? If you are not spending the money for hair removal, scar treatments, or erasure of fine lines and wrinkles, you are not only failing to care for yourself properly, but you are admitting to being too old. You are ready to be put out to pasture rather than hired for a job. You are incapable of grasping new technology merely because you might have gray hair, not because you are unemployed and it would be foolish to spend $100 plus on professional hair coloring. Nobody wants to work with their mother, and quite frankly, you are looking older than their mother.

It is strange that in a world of casual Fridays and such, you still have to dress like a Vanderbilt to go to a job interview for anything that doesn't involve stocking shelves at Walmart. You lost a job that had casual Fridays, and the work attire is serviceable, respectable, clean, and in good repair, but it isn't cutting edge fashion, and quite frankly, you are found wanting by the HR person who is ironically clad in jeans because it is casual Friday. Buying a new wardrobe just for interviews is irresponsible when there is no income, but you are not honored for the frugality and practicality, just criticized for the lack of presentation. You didn't take enough effort, and you didn't prove how much you wanted to work for that company by dressing for success. Branded a loser and consigned to the purgatory of rejection letters, you are responsible for not being chosen.

I have had car insurance for over thirty years continuously and have a pristine driving record. Yes, there have been accidents over the years, but in all cases, I was not cited or issued a ticket. I could wallpaper the family room in good driving certificates from the Secretary of State, but now, because of unemployment and a credit rating that has been relegated to the basement, I cannot take advantage of money saving insurance offers....You see insurance companies were told that they could evaluate those without an insurance history based upon credit rating as a measure of personal responsibility. The insurance companies have chosen to extend that, not only to those without a driving history or insurance history, but to everyone. Thirty years of excellent driving history means nothing, the lack of claims for naught. I am going to pay inflated insurance rates because I was unemployed and my credit rating was damaged during that unemployment. So while shopping for the most competitive rates on insurance would be sensible, particularly with reduced income, it is something that is not available to me any longer.

It is wonderful to be talked down to by your children's teachers and counselors. As I don't have a professional title and fancy business cards, I am obviously a functional moron, poorly educated and intellectually deprived. Because I am not earning significant dollars, my income is viewed a direct reflection on my abilities and intelligence. And because I am underemployed, working below my capacity, other employers will not consider me for the professional roles that I once fulfilled. Fair or not, your general intelligence is measured not by professional accomplishment, previous responsibility, and skills, but rather by the amount of money you bring home and how large your house might, the clothing you wear, or the car you drive. In our current society Albert Einstein would be viewed as the village idiot as he had no clothing sense, wild hair, and eccentric habits.

It would appear that the old adage about money begetting money has become Gospel truth in our society. If you don't have money and the outward display of that money, you are thrown on the scrap heap and a cycle of downward spiral becomes the order of the day. You can't afford the wardrobe and appearance expenses, therefore you are not worthy of a good job. Because you haven't gotten a good job, you cannot do anything about those lacking outward trappings. I actually experienced losing a job because somebody objected to my lack of professional hair and makeup. It was felt that I was not representing the company professionally.

Lord help you if you don't have a credit card, because the advertising catch phrase: "What's in your wallet?" has more far reaching consequences than I could have even imagined. Vacations are a thing of the past, because you aren't booking airfare without a credit card unless you want to wind up on the "No Fly List" as a potential terrorist. You will not be able to book a hotel or rent a car without a credit card. And if you have a bill larger than a $20 denomination, nobody wants to take it for fear it might be counterfeit. Being poor does have people believing that you are somehow out to scam them, even if it is the farthest thing from the truth. Assumptions, suppositions, judgements and none of them have anything to do with you, but it doesn't stop people from making them.

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