The Most Important Class They Don’t Teach You in School
Last week, the company I work for held an annual meeting to discuss our health insurance policies. After half-listening to the rep from the insurance company, I scanned the paperwork outlining the coverage and tossed it to the side of my desk. “It’s all Greek to me!” I announced to my coworkers, most of whom are older than me, who looked at me with a unique mixture of sympathy and disgust.
The truth is, the only thing that I understand about my health insurance is that I have it, and that my co-pay is twenty dollars. Don’t even get me started on 401ks, life insurance policies and stock options. Seriously, I think I’ve had colleagues try to explain stock options to me about 40 times, and I still have no clue what they mean or what they do. Vesting? What’s vesting? Like, a tunic? I remember my first day of work when I had to fill out my W2. I sat at my desk rattling my brain, “do I put a 0 or a 1?!” until I caved and ran to a supply closet to call my mom and ask.
Out of all the useless classes I was made to take in my many years of schooling, you’d think that one of them might have covered stuff like this. I knew for a FACT that my freshman year 8:15 a.m. astronomy class was completely pointless (which is why I skipped it 10+ times), but would have so appreciated a class on filing taxes and the most efficient way to defer your student loans.
What I propose is a kind of post-grad practice run: A year long program in which you’re placed in an apartment with your friends, and you all have jobs, bills and other adult responsibilities like dusting or making doctors appointments. Except the job would be more of an internship, and the bills would just be wrapped up in loan that you’d take out with whoever was organizing this whole thing. And sometimes you’d be allowed to sleep in during the week. Hmm, I guess I just described my senior year of college, except I definitely never dusted or went to the doctor. Well, except for the pregnancy scare that one time. Man, I miss those days.
The only type of education I had that came close to something like this was in 5th grade. Our teacher (shout out to Mrs. LaRocca!) devoted a whole quarter of that year to the life of a fictional character named Archibald Gugenslaut. We learned how to balance Archibald’s imaginary checkbook, write Archibald’s imaginary checks, and budget Archibald’s imaginary income. Don’t ask me how to reduce a fraction, or where Czechoslovakia is on a map, but I’m reeeaally good at writing checks- and do it quite frequently!
Honestly, I’m just banking on the fact that I’ll grow up to be rich and wildly successful one day, and can hire somebody to worry about all this stuff for me. Or, the more likely option, that I actually won’t die barren and alone, and will be forced to understand my health insurance and stock options for the sake of my family. And I guess that’s fine- as long as there’s still no dusting involved.