Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Laughs Last

It is easy for a woman in her thirties to be overwhelmed by the complexities of modern life. Immigration. Gentrification. Transfiguration. These, like so many things, are subjects that become more complicated the more you know.

It is the same for me when I think about health care. Here's how the story went down: A few weeks ago I received word that I was provided health care by my new employer. If I were a single woman in her thirties, this would be great news. As it is, I am covered under L's insurance. I tried to explain that I simply didn't need the health insurance, but apparently I am contractually obligated to take the health insurance provided to me.

'You'll just be double-covered!' the HR employee told me, which I found out later is an outrageous misnomer.

'But I don't want to be double-covered,' I said, thinking of the 20/20 special I'd just seen recently about the health care crisis in America. 'Can't I donate it to someone who needs it?'

The HR employee laughed. 'It doesn't work that way!' she said, smiling. I frowned.

The end result of my 'double coverage' is a small amount of money leftover from what is provided by my employer every month that I get to invest in any way I choose. And when I say 'any way I choose', I mean into a retirement account through any one of four preferred vendors through my school district.

After some tedious research and a few conversations with people in my school, I came to know that the difference between these 'preferred vendors' was nil in terms of profit. They offer the same rates, the same options, and the same cautiously optimistic view of our economic future. The difference is simply a matter of customer service.

Customer service-- now there's a term I have some background in. I met with several people last week, all of whom wanted my business. They were all nice enough, especially the first one, who told me in a way not unlike my idol, Suze Orman, what the difference is between a bond and a bond fund. I felt the most comfortable with that guy, but I struggled with making my decision.

My final appointment this week was with a man who was much younger than the others. He had an expensive watch on and nice teeth. He told me all about the funds I knew he offered, and said he had a complicated way of breaking up my monthly contributions into high, medium, and low risk investments to 'help me reach my retirement goals' (whatever those are).

'Oh,' he said while packing his things. 'We offer one other investment option. It's extremely conservative. It's guaranteed at 3%.'

Hmm. My savings account currently gives me less than 1%. In the last year, I've heard heart-wrenching stories about families losing their entire life savings in the stock market. I asked what I thought was a logical question.

'Wouldn't it make sense to just invest everything into that one account and be guaranteed to make 3%?'

He laughed. This was the second time someone had laughed in my face in two weeks, and I was beginning to resent it.

'Sure,' he said sarcastically. 'But I wouldn't recommend it if you actually wanted to enjoy your retirement someday.'

That was it. I wasn't going to put up with Mr. Straight Teeth and his condescending tone. Did I balk at his use of the word 'Irregardless'? Did I judge him based on his use of the term 'nitty gritty'? (Check out the etymology here and you will never use that phrase again). No. If laughing at me is his idea of customer service, then I don't want to trust him with my money. Needless to say, my next phone call was to my Suze Orman-like investor.

A woman in her thirties is too old
To give her business to a huge asshole

That's a couplet. In iambic pentameter. HA.


  1. Good to know about "nitty gritty." You are a wealth of information. If I were you I would call that guy and tell him exactly why he did not get your business! Really unprofessional.

  2. I would have asked the EXACT same question, so that guy can kiss it! P.S. I have no idea what that last line means. At all. Did I ever learn that?