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Woman calls out rich classmate, 'not everyone has it financially as good as you.' AITA?

Woman calls out rich classmate, 'not everyone has it financially as good as you.' AITA?

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"AITA for telling my rich classmate not everyone has it financially as good as her?"

I (30f) am in my second year of university. The classmate I called out ("Ellen") is 19f. I wouldn't call us friends, but we worked together a lot because of a big assignment, and I often spend lunch time with her and the same group of students. Kind of like good colleagues.

Ellen's parents own their own supermarket and are quite well off (think: yacht, 2 vacation homes, 4 cars). I know this because Ellen has a habit of bringing up her financial status on a regular basis. At the beginning of the year it didn't annoy me because it was just casually mentioned now and then and she wasn't hurting anyone with it. But as time went on this changed to her actively trying to turn the conversation towards the topic, often during times where it would be considered "tone-deaf."

For example another classmate "Elisa" got into a car accident and had to stay in the hospital. As she was sharing her experience during lunch, Ellen said: "oh I got into a really bad accident too once, on my yacht. I lost my balance and fell backwards. My neck was sore for days."

The situation where I called her out was this one: Ellen's best friend "Lydia" had her backpack and laptop stolen and was crying uncontrollable. Ellen gave her a hug and said: "you don't need to cry, you can just buy a new one!" Lydia said that she couldn't, to which Ellen replied: "oh c'mon it's not that expensive. With the software we need a laptop of around $1280 should be enough." I replied: "Ellen not everyone is as financially comfortable as you."

Ellen clearly didn't like that. She raised her voice and told me that people only see the money but they don't see how much effort she has to put in to get in. That she works at her parents' supermarket every Sunday and that she deserves every coin she owns. I told her that I didn't mean that she doesn't deserve it, and that it's a good thing that she doesn't have to worry about money, but that she should consider that most of our fellow students have a different situation.

It didn't get mentioned anymore, but the overall mood has been quite cold since then and I'm wondering if maybe I went too far. Both my boyfriend and best friend (both 30's) said that I should have ignored it because "19 is basically still a kid" and "it's not my job to teach her empathy.' So, AITA?

EDIT:

I noticed that people focus on the age difference a lot, so let me clarify: the group I have lunch with consists of students aged 19-36. I don't consider Ellen my friend, but I'm not going to avoid her during lunch simply because of age. At my job (I combine work and uni) we also eat with colleagues together no matter their ages and my classmates feel the same for me.

Here's what top commenters had to say about this one:

author124 said:

NTA fellow (nearly) 30f here, my parents have always been well off and even at 19, I was hyper aware that not everyone was in the same situation to the point where I tried to avoid talking about how much was available to me as much as possible. Ellen is old enough to learn. As someone who coincidentally also had her laptop and backpack stolen, Ellen is also being insensitive regardless of whether the friend has the ability to buy the laptop; it's an incredibly violating experience, especially if the laptop was owned long enough that there was a lot of personal data on it vs academic work only.

Edit: also, it may not be your job to teach Ellen empathy, but if this is how she reacts to being told she's acting privileged, she's going to either quickly learn it on her own, or lose all of her healthy friendships.

Fantastic_Deer_3772 said:

NTA - it's nobody's job in particular to teach her empathy, but someone has to. You didn't go extreme or anything. 19 is a very normal age to start being made aware that other people's lives are very unlike the household you came from.

LouisV25 said:

NTA. You can’t teach her empathy but you can tell her she’s inappropriate. That’s what you did. If people only see money it’s because that seems to be all she talks about.

ShutUpMorrisseyffs said:

NTA. What you are talking about is privilege. As the saying goes, "privilege is invisible to those who have it." She needs to do some work on understanding that she's 1% and everything she achieves is based upon that wealth and status. Having a Saturday job in a supermarket doesn't undo all of that. The woman will never know the terror of not being able to make rent or pay the mortgage.

If you want to stay friends, you should talk to her about being more sensitive. Yes, she's 19, but she's not an idiot. She knows her friends aren't wealthy and still lauds her baubles of late capitalism over them. She needs to chill or risk alienating everyone.

Gennevieve1 said:

NTA. You didn't say anything extreme, you just calmly stated the obvious truth. She needed to hear this. You did her a favor. She would just keep on embarrassing herself more. Now she'll hopefully think before she opens her mouth. Let her be cold, she'll get over it.

gd_reinvent said:

NTA. My parents were also really well off but not quite that well off and weren't always that well off, my dad was a student on a student loan with interest when I was a baby and he got a bigger student loan to live on so that my mom wouldn't have to go back to work.

Ellen sounds like a really rude and tone deaf person. She has to work at the supermarket her parents OWN once a WEEK for pocket money and all her tuition and course stuff paid for?! Wow. That's all? LOTS of university students have to rely on student loans - with interest - and pick up work when they can. Some of them also have little kids to support.

My dad for example. His and mom's one car (they couldn't afford a second one) got stolen when he was a student. They couldn't afford to replace it. It was found by the cops a week later, radio and everything inside including my car seat was taken out but it was still driveable and roadworthy. Dad said f*ck the stuff that got stolen, he was just happy he got the car back because he needed the car.

It's people like her who make decisions to raise interest rates, abolish allowances, cut budgets for universities, etc - because it doesn't affect them or their kids, so why would they care if it affects the poor?

She needs to understand that just because mommy and daddy pay for everything for her in exchange for her working one shift a week at their supermarket doesn't mean that everyone has it that good.

Everyone was on OP's side for this one. What's your advice for this situation?

Sources: Reddit
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