Hate The Game

The Dave Chappelle marathon on Comedy Central last Sunday was infinitely preferable to the default Sunday TV option in our house, the weekly “Snapped” marathon on Oxygen. I was cruising the recent wealth of public rumination on work-life balance when a skit came on about the “Player Haters’ Ball.”

The timing was perfect. My inner Hater starts revving every time I read an op-ed or feature in a major publication on the topic of Leaning In, Opting Out, Having It All, or Wearing The Pants. There were two new entries in this category that I was trying to read: Tara Sonenshine’s February 13 WaPo Op-Ed and Rosa Brooks’ “Recline!” at Foreign Policy. The franchise was resurrected yet again on GovExec yesterday by Olga Khazan.

Let me say right up front that I am jealous. I admit it. No major publications are asking for my opinions on these or any other topics. The authors of at least the first two pieces appear to have enviable pedigrees and/or advanced degrees, plus prestigious jobs, nice duds, and high-option childcare. My life isn’t chopped liver, but just looking at their author blurbs reminds me that I will never become a child prodigy. I hate that.

But the other reason I’m primed for hatin’ is because, 40 years after women started entering the professional work force in numbers, we are still being steered into the same conversations about the same bogus “choices.” All the authors cited above acknowledge en passant that the ability to lean out is predicated on a level of privilege that most people don’t have and that work-life balance is not merely an issue for women. Unfortunately, invoking the tired question of whether women should lean in or out of the workplace obscures the underlying problem: our major public and private institutions and employers ignore the effort that goes into the “unskilled” but essential activities that sustain human lives. We need to find a way to make that effort visible instead of stumbling into another argument about whether we ladies should be bringing home more bacon, frying it up more frequently in the pan, or both.

Employers persist in behaving as if completely different sets of people were responsible for one or the other, as if cooking and cleaning and child-rearing were all optional activities while the main thing was to go earn a paycheck. Sure, individuals may choose to reproduce or not, but people as a whole seem pretty committed to the activity. Once the progeny are there, providing for them and caring for them is mandatory.

My pet peeve as a Salary Mom is the lack of synchronization between the work day and the school day or between the work calendar and the academic calendar. Instead of talking about leaning in or leaning out, how about we talk about which schedule of business hours and school hours would best serve the needs of students and parents with the least drag on the economy?

(Speaking of work, I am off today, in case you wondered why I was posting mid-afternoon. Fear not, taxpayers.)

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Edutainments

This weekend, the Dinoteens were recalling some of the great edutainment programs of the Noughties: “The Most Extreme“,”Animal Face-Off“, and “Deadliest Warrior.” The boys watched the hypothetical match-ups (polar bear vs. walrus, Sun Tzu vs. Vlad the Impaler) avidly, and we had lots of fun betting on the outcomes. It might not have been the most realistic or even accurate info they ever absorbed about history or animals, but they still remember about the leathery skin and deadly tusks of the walrus almost a decade later. They also remember me getting mad when Sun Tzu lost, which is a little alarming. At any rate, watching it didn’t make us significantly dumber.

Mouse and I watch “How It’s Made” and “Strip The City” when we’re loafing around. They’re good programs. But yelling at the TV with my sons and talking trash about whether Joan of Arc was going to beat Attila the Hun was really fun. Maybe this is why people watch sports. Alert Muppet Labs!

Someone Please Develop This

Dear World:

Please develop an internet doo-dad that I can put my grocery list into and get a breakdown of where it is most cost-efficient to purchase each item within a 10-mile radius of my house. If you develop one that will then divide it into pick-up orders from Giant and Harris Teeter, that would be even cooler. I was about to say I’d pay money for a service like that, but then it occurred to me that y’all should be paying me for this great idea. So never mind.

Sincerely,

Salary Mom

The Dinosaurov family runs on Harris Teeter (and occasionally Giant) grocery pick-up. Whatever we lose in not getting the cheapest prices on foodstuffs in a given week, we recoup it on the fact that I am not physically wandering the aisles of our local grocery store at 6:30 PM on an empty stomach.

Safeway is seriously missing out by not adopting this model. We love Safeway, but I do not love the whole business of having to place orders two days in advance and order more than $50 worth of stuff at a time.

Speaking of which, it is time to place the HT grocery order so I can get on with my day.

Customer Satisfaction

Tonight Podrostok is completing his first job application ever. This is a momentous event.

When I applied for my first job I was also 16 and a junior in high school. That was 28 years ago. The process involved walking around the mall and completing job applications in person. I wound up selling shoes. It was the only shoe store that had shoes in my size, so the employee discount came in really handy.

(Come to think of it, I recently dreamed that I had taken a part-time job at another location of that store as an adult but forgotten to show up for a bunch of shifts. It was not a pleasant dream.)

Podrostok did his application online from the comfy chair with his siblings and me listening to him read aloud each of the 96 questions on their “can you add and not steal stuff” questionnaire. The organization appears to take workplace safety very seriously.