As I continue to adjust to my non-traditional career status, I don’t know whether to be amused or offended or worried by the interpretations of others.
For the last several months whenever I am asked what I do I respond with “I’m a writer” which is true enough. I write daily. I am published. I just haven’t figured out how to turn what I do into money. Often I will be questioned about my writing, but usually I am met with a puzzled look and the polite smiles reserved for the elderly, or people we think might be crazy and we are unsure of the danger they pose.
Last Sunday my husband decided since we were in the city we should run by the furniture store. All the de-cluttering and purging we’ve done in the past few months has denuded our living room like pine beetles in a forest. He’d found a great deal on a sectional, and while we were at it we decided to replace the old dining room set and splurge on a decent mattress for ourselves.
The salesman followed us about rapturously. We had to have been dream customers considering the cooling economy – people with purchasing intent. After all was chosen, Rob informed the salesman that we would like to take advantage of the deferred payment plan. This required a credit check and that meant paperwork. Not having a paying job, much less a credit history in Canada, I wandered off to check out the sleeper sofas, and when I came back the salesman wondered if I would like the credit account to be joint.
Up here there is no such thing as using one’s social insurance number to secure anything. Unlike the social security number in the United States, which might as well be tatooed on our foreheads when we are born to make it easier for all the people and institutions who claim to need it, Canadian’s use their SINs for banking and taxes. A credit check, as nearly as I could ascertain, means assuring someone you had a job, giving them an approximation of your monthly income, ditto with the mortgage/rent and letting them see a driver’s license and a credit card. You wouldn’t need to steal someone’s identity this way, you could just make up a totally new one.
“Should I put your occupation down as homemaker?” the salesman asked me.
Was it the yoga pants? The small child? The husband who did most of the talking during the choosing of new acquisitions? Because if it was the last, Rob just cares about furniture more than I do and if it was the child – well that was just sexist and if it was the comfy pants, um, yeah well, I like comfy pants.
“I’m a writer,” I told him.
He gave me that smile and said,
“Whatever,” I smiled back.
When we got to the check out where our information was entered into the data base and assessed for worthiness, the young woman behind the counter double-checked my information.
“So I can put your income down as $0 and occupation then is homemaker?”
Clearly she was a feminist determined to point out my mistake and rub my nose in it like a bad puppy.
I just nodded, but I wondered, if I was the chemical engineer and Rob was the struggling writer would he have been written off as a “house boy” or some such other nonsense?
This was an original 50 Something Moms piece.