My Financial Career

by Stephen Leacock

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Student Question

Why is the narrator "reckless with misery" in "My Financial Career"?

Quick answer:

The narrator describes himself as “reckless with misery” in “My Financial Career” because he has made a mistake in filling out a check and is too embarrassed to admit the error to the bank’s staff. He feels that he must continue along the course of action that the error indicated.

Expert Answers

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Stephen Leacock’s story “My Financial Career” tells of a man who is very nervous about interacting with the staff of a bank where he is opening a new account. “Reckless with misery” ironically describes his feelings after making a mistake in the amount he enters on a check. His embarrassment takes over, and he becomes “reckless” in carrying on with the transaction.

In the period when the story is set, the narrator had found that it was possible to function on a cash basis until he got a raise at his job. He decides that it would be safer to keep it in the bank, which will require him to open a bank account. He is not accustomed to having much money, so money makes him nervous. When he enters the bank, he feels very uncomfortable speaking with the staff members.

The story details a number of interactions that he has with clerks and the managers. After opening the account and depositing fifty-six dollars, he intends to withdraw only six of those dollars but nervously writes fifty-six instead. When the clerk asks if he intends to withdraw everything, he is very embarrassed. Because he feels "misery" over his error, he carries on with the larger withdrawal rather than admit his error.

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