Ever struck up a conversation with some random person on the bus/road (or any place where you could meet random people) only to cringe when the 3rd question they ask after your name and job is the salary?
Beyond a point, salary replaces the ‘Kitne marks aaye beta?’ It is the new weapon with which people can put you down. And unless you are the richest person on Earth, duly recognised by Forbes magazine, you are bound to be poorer to someone the questioner knows. The most extreme reactions happen when you are asked this question by people who you know you will have to bump into again some day – distant relatives or the aunty you always see in the lift etc.
The question is followed by an awkward pause on your side, you take a good look at the person in front of you and wonder how much of the truth is to be revealed. There are many ways respondents react. Method one is the impress the shit out of him/her. So a ‘cool’ figure is quoted and some fancy terms of the perks available are thrown in. The designation is hyped up and never affordable vacations and company sponsored trips are thrown in. Of course you do this only when you have an inkling the person in front of you has absolutely no idea of your industry or the person is an impressionable starry eyed kid.
Method two is downplaying what you earn. This you do when you know the person in front of you is the jealous kinds or you fear this person will request financial favour. In this case you complain about high rents/EMI, the inflation and generally how you never have enough left after the 20th of the month. You also do this in front of nosy relatives/aunties who have no business asking you any thing in the first place. Especially after you caught them bitching about you.
Method three is when you say the truth. This is when you know you have nothing to lose or when you know the other person is too knowledgeable to lie to. Here you will have to face all the judgement said person is capable of. You have no choice.
But whatever you do, you will be judged by your salary. Immediate questions after this answer reveal how said person will always remember you. If God forbid your salary is a little less than the advertised average of your industry, you shall be branded an under achiever. Probing questions on why you are not like so and so will be asked. It will be worse if your actual job is something that is not considered quite ‘cool’, then you are a certified loser and the blackest sheep.
If on the other hand your salary is more than the person expected (the expectation could have been low because of various reasons like the person attributing your simple tastes to a lack of money or them not knowing your job could pay so well) then suddenly they could start respecting you. Conversely, they could even start getting jealous of you. Be prepared for snide comments and weird laughter or a bending over backwards kindness from now on.
God forbid you don’t reveal your salary and the other person may not even ask, but still based on popular perception of the kind of job you do, they will judge you for the salary they do not know you earn. Its a judgement you cannot escape. Perhaps the reason why people are forced to take personal loans.