Thoughts on Little Green Divas and Pint-sized Starbucksians from Wall Street.


Honey, honey, honey,” she says as she pulls up a stool to sit close to me.

She is the size of the porcelain dolls that I used to adorn my shelves with. A Little Asian Woman Wearing a Red Baseball Cap. Puffy Black Jacket. Fake Prada Purse.

I just got off my shift. I work the night shift.

She talks to me as if I am the receiving end of a telephone conversation, as if I am the friend who often gains her afterthoughts from the phrase “how are you?”

It is 9:30a.m. and I am sitting off in the corner of my favorite Starbucks on 54th and Lexington, sipping a cup of coffee with steamed milk before heading for a UN briefing on dialogues about Judaism. I wasn’t expecting a coffee companion so early in the morning but, per usual, I delight in the grace of encountering someone who feels like talking.

Honey, honey, honey, how are old are you?

“22,” I reply.

Honey, honey, honey, You are very pretty. And you make money?” She puts her hand on my wrist as she speaks to me as if I have hired her on as a confidante in this big, bustling city.

“No, I don’t make money.”

I am learning how very hard it is to explain to someone why you, a young 22-year-old clearly dressed for a day at the office, has given up making a salary for an entire year. It is easier to explain it when you are the middle of chaotic preschool or scooping out soup at a soup kitchen. Not when you do your work in Manhattan. People don’t get it. Many don’t open their arms to the idea that anyone should be prancing around Manhattan with no money in their pockets.

“I am a volunteer,” I continue.

A volunteer? No, No, NO.” She is getting a little forceful with me, people around us start to look on. “You make the money. You are 22. You make the money.”

“I will eventually?”

Honey, honey, honey, NOW. You make the money now. How old are you?


You make the money now, I show you. I show you.” She pulls out a crumbled business card and a wad of one dollar bills. The faded business card reads “Trump Plaza”.”He is my boss. I work for him. I make the money.

At this point in the conversation I am beginning to think that the woman is a little off, not that I doubt that this lady could be the next apprentice. She asks twice more about my age and then proceeds to tell me about some ridiculous “get rich quick” website and offers to help me “make the money.”

“I am sorry, I really cannot make money this year.”

Honey, honey, honey. Why you do this? Why you not make money? You need money.”

The conversation with this woman, of whom I never learned the name of in all the 20 minutes, stayed stuck in my head throughout the rest of day. Eventually we spoke of love and she proceeded to show me a picture of her husband that took up the background of her cell phone, but I stayed fixated on her comments about money.

I am beginning to grow afraid of big digits. I am petrified of any number that comes with three or four zeros trailing obediently in a line behind it. I am feeling the urge to finish this year in June and move off to Bali or an orphanage in South America and never come back. To live off of simplicity and the good grace of God but never green currency. Never Green Currency.

I guess this is what a year of money will do to you, make you long for, but dread at the same time, the day when you have money in your pocket.

I can stir up conversations with Money in my head just as easily as the dialogue I shared with the pint-sized Starbucksian (new word? new species?) from “Wall Street.”

You need me, whether you like it or not,” he grumbles. To me, Money is frumpy and old. And he smells like dollar bills and cigars. How appropriate. He is a heavier-set version of Hugh Heffner, probably a part of the mafia as well.  “What do you think you will do without me?

“I don’t know. Play, skip, laugh? Enjoy life. I really don’t need you.”

“Oh but you do. You can’t play writer and journalist with a pile of loans tugging at your sleeves.” He finishes with a hearty laugh that makes the walls quake with greed. Makes little children shiver and hide under the sleeves of their mothers. Makes me want to crawl into a ball and hum Christmas symphonies to myself.

And then he reels me in with a parade of Green Divas who promise to secure me as they flaunt themselves all over the world. They may start out innocently lounging within the folds of my wallet but I am afraid they will taunt me and push me into work that I don’t want to do, into climbing a ladder that I personally don’t feel like climbing.

And its the conclusion to a post where I wish I had the solution, where I wish I knew a way to calculate my future and my dreams without the use of any digits. But I am afraid I don’t.

I am 22 and I am afraid of digits. Big ones. Little ones. The ones, twos, and threes.

Anybody out there better versed in life and finances that desires to finish my cliff-hanger conversation with Mr. Big Bucks? How do you keep dreams on the horizon in such a costly world?





12 thoughts on “Thoughts on Little Green Divas and Pint-sized Starbucksians from Wall Street.

  1. Happiness revolves around how you spend your time–not your dimes. And sure having money can equal being able to spend more time doing more expensive things. But haven’t we all decided that it is the little things that make us truly happy? I told a friend, here, today that I think I would like to spend my life jumping around A LOT. Do a job here, make enough to travel. Do another job. Travel again. Who wants to be so stable in a world that is always moving?

  2. Hi Hannah,

    Well, here are my observations looking back at life after K-12 and college.

    In general our educational systems prepare most students to fit their square bodies into round holes when it ought to be the other way around. We are in training to be consumers instead of citizens.

    Education ought to be about giving people the tools they need to free themselves from limitations, not create artificial ones and to truly make the world a heaven rather than a hell.

    That said, you can make money doing something you consider worthwhile if you can break through the “serf” mindset that turns us into modern day indentured servants. When I was around your age, I used to watch the street cars go buy. Everyone coming home from worked looked tired and sad. If we’re being sold the notion that careers are so fantastic, why do folks look like that?

    A solution? Start our own non-profits! I’m moving into that direction with my “Wake Up and Contribute” non-institute institute. Don’t know how I’m going to do it, just keep moving toward it as much as I can.

    What would help the people of the Bronx? What would empower them? If food is the problem, maybe inner city farming programs are the solution? Check out Detroit. People are reclaiming that city. It’s the new frontier.

    Great post! Giulietta

    1. So your response is not printed out and sitting on my wall.. No, but seriously. It is. This response meant the absolute world to me. Thank you so much G. i loved every word of it.

  3. I hate money too… But I also hate not having money. It’s like this catch 22. Because although I hate it and would never center my life around it. I love knowing that I have a warm home (that costs money), and that I can go to a doctor when I’m sick (which would cost money), and that I can care for my family (which also costs money). So I guess there has to be a balance. There are people who always want more, more, more. And the having more doesn’t bring happiness. So I always pray that God will bless me and my husband with the money we need to live comfortably. Because that’s all I need. 🙂

  4. Alright, listen up sister. There’s no need to be scared of money, big or little. (Easier said than done, I know.) And, you can live an equally virtuous life while making money. I want to be very clear on that.

    I live and work in Cambodia, a developing country. I don’t make big money by any Western stretch of the imagination. By Cambodian standards, I make big money. And that can be hard to reconcile in a country that has so many needs. But, I make big money because of my skills, my education, my passion, determination, dedication, etc. I make big money (in Cambodia) because of the value I bring to my company.

    This “big money” allows me to pay off my student loans and other debt I’ve accrued, live comfortably & travel a little. It doesn’t allow me to save any substantial amount for the future, which does scare me from time to time.

    I believe in getting paid for your value. There are a number of companies that need volunteers. It’s a great way to get experience. At some point though, people will want to (& should!) pay you for your experience and expertise.

    Never be afraid to ask for what you’re worth. It shows an employer that you value yourself. That you trust your skills and capabilities. That you’re keenly aware of what you’re bringing to the table.

    But, keep in mind the scale and relativity of your worth & location. I make a quarter of the income I made in NYC. However, cost of living is much much much lower in Cambodia. While student loans and debt payments don’t fluctuate, rent + utilities + groceries + entertainment do.

    In many ways, I have a higher quality of living making less money in Cambodia. But that wouldn’t be the case if I didn’t ask for what I was worth.

    Also, making more money means you can pour more money into the things that mean the most to you: from supporting local business, making charitable donations, offering a service, traveling, gifting friends, to eating well. The list goes on. More money isn’t a bad thing if your spending is aligned with your values.

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