There is a thread of a money theme going through this episode. Some one-offs, and some more plot-driving. What initially caught my eye were specific allusions to how much cash a person had on them (Roger, and later Rebecca) but once I started looking for money, it was everywhere.
Joan’s mother and the formula
Joan’s mother (Gail): “Anyway, I think we’re about to run out of formula. I’ll get your purse”.
This on its own was striking to me–every family is different. My mom, under the same circumstances, would never ever request that money from me (and you can’t exactly call that a request)–she would be looking for ways to help me. But that’s my mom, and I can’t say it’s right as compared to this. But that certainly demonstrates a flavor of their relationship, and of who Gail is.
And then it continues…
Joan: “A ten? You buying his formula or yours?”
This goes a step further, informing us that mom is a bit of a taker, and possibly a lush. Grandma Gail then plays shell game with this accusation by offering to take Kevin for a walk, for which Joan is extremely grateful; willing to overlook this (willing to pay). So it actually becomes a transaction. We’ll learn more about those a little later.
Roger and Caroline
Roger gives the shared secretary $50 to sit outside his office more often (ever). Although it is stated as “buy yourself a hat”. She takes the money, but remains reluctant to man his desk.
A comment from Pete
Kenny asks Pete if he will be at the Drapers’ party.
Pete: “I wish I could get overtime for it”.
Roger and the waiter
Roger tips the waiter as he leaves the Mohawk lunch.
Roger pays Harry to switch offices with Pete
Roger: “What would be an appropriate bonus?”
Harry: “There’s no bonuses here. We have no money. Well first of all it’s more than you could have on you.”
(Roger counts cash, extends it to Harry.)
Roger: It’s eleven hundred dollars”.
Harry: “Why do you carry so much cash?”
Roger: “It’s more than a thousand, Harry. That is a month’s salary after taxes”.
Harry: “Well okay, but you’re gonna owe me”.
Roger: “No I’m not. I just gave you a lot of money. This is a transaction.”
(I told you we’d learn more about transactions.)
The entire Lane/wallet plotline
First he finds the wallet and says so to the cab driver. After examining the cash and seeing close to a hundred dollars, Lane decides it is safer in his hands. Is this racist? Classist? Just plain precautionary against a stranger? He then pays (bribes) the cabbie for the wallet (I couldn’t tell if it was $1 or a few singles), and then still tips him for the ride (a coin or two) which struck the cabbie, and me, as odd.
Later on, the owner of the wallet insists on paying Lane, explaining “That’s how we do things here”.
Lane and Rebecca
Lane has not paid St. Paul’s the fall tuition for Nigel Pryce. Rebecca is upset over receiving a threatening letter, Lane insists that Nigel is enrolled in school; he simply does not want to give them the money any earlier than they need it (why shouldn’t it remain in-hand and earn three months interest.)
Later, we see that Lane doesn’t want Rebecca writing checks–she asks him for cash for the grocer. We see a literal “money shot”; Lane’s hand in a wallet full of bills as he reaches in for a ten to give her.
Lane and Joan
They have a private, impromptu status meeting, where we see the agency is suffering, and that it is really Joan, more so than Lane, who is so great at crunching numbers. Lane considers himself a bit of a sham.
Joan: “Well that explains why you’re asking for all this free advice”.
Underneath this all, back at home, does Lane personally have some genuine money problems? Is he somehow broke–is that what all of this is leading to?
Don and Megan
Don: “Don’t waste money on things like that”
Megan: “It was my money, and you don’t get to decide what I do with it”.
Don: “Well could you please not use it to embarrass me again”.
Joan and her mother
after telling her mother she can leave if she wants to
Joan: “I got my money’s worth”.
I’m assuming she flew her mother in (from wherever she lives).
Pete’s train buddy (is it Harold?)
in response to Pete, who is talking about deciding to put in an in-ground pool based on a Christmas bonus
“I never count on a bonus”.
And let’s not forget, the episode, in fact the fifth season opens with with the picketers’ chant, “Hey ho hey ho/We’ve got the poverty, You’ve got the dough”.
Where do people draw the line? Harry could not turn down $1100. Lane might have left the wallet with the cab driver if it only had $15 in it. Again and again we examine this; what is someone’s turning point when it comes to a dollar amount?
I’m currently taking a 10-session seminar on money, and one thing we are examining specifically is our inner dialogue about money–it is constant and it is quite dominating. Just identifying the ongoing negotiation is fascinating. For example, I’m on vacation (writing to you now from the beach in Puerto Plata) and every time I choose to spend or not to spend, there is a conversation. I found a necklace I adored, and it was $115. No way is it worth $115. I say this like it’s the truth, as though there is a truth. I walked away from it and my friend asks me, What amount would have been okay? And I honestly couldn’t answer. I keep thinking about that necklace, and what is it “worth” to me, (and so far I have decided I don’t want it). It was Deborah, for the record, who pointed out to me that I’m in this seminar and this is the theme I happened to see first in this episode.
I think money– who has it, what value it has for people, what it means about who someone is or what someone can have/not have, will continue to be a very big theme this season.