Archives » Soul of the City

Parents Just Don't Understand

Singles screwed by their bosses


Everyone says being single in Charlotte has its advantages, and on rare occasion, I find the opportunity to reap the benefits. We don't have to consult with a partner when we make major life decisions such as changing jobs or buying a house or a car. We can let the grass get as tall as the neighbors will tolerate before we get out in the 97-degree weather and mow it. We can sleep in all day to recover from an uptown bar crawl. We need no one's permission to paint the walls with Ralph Lauren River Rock paint that will be nothing short of a bitch to remove later.Yes, being single does have its advantages, but there seems to be a great conspiracy to cancel them out.

The first drawbacks are financial. People who live together or are married get to split everything down the middle. Singles have to pay the mortgage and the utilities on one income, and it takes a substantially higher level of income to do that and live fairly well. We also pay more taxes since the government assumes single people have nothing better to spend their money on and so they take a hefty chunk of it.

However, there's one thing that's been nagging the hell out of me for years and there seems to be no escaping it. Being single puts you at a distinct disadvantage with almost all aspects of having a career. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you've obviously been married too long.

I once worked for a company where the normal workweek was Monday through Friday. My boss approached me to work on a special project that would require me to work every weekend for about two months. I was told that I had "unique skills" that led them to select me for the project. I wasn't overjoyed about working weekends, but I gave in to the flattery and agreed. I discovered later that I wasn't selected to work weekends because of my expertise, it was because I was the only person in my territory who was single. I've had similar situations with almost every employer throughout my working career.

I've decided that on my next job, I'm just going to tell them I'm a single mother. I mean, why not? They never actually make you produce a kid. You can always claim that the child's father carries the medical insurance, you have joint custody, and you have a ready-made excuse to get out of, or get away with, almost anything.

Maybe you should try it too -- think of all the benefits! You'll never again have to face the agonizing task of making a sick day morph into a personal day by giving an Oscar-worthy "sick" performance on the phone; you just have to say your child is ill. Your lunch hours can be extended because, after all, your "child" has a dental appointment, or weekly allergy shots. Late for work? Presto, instant play that morning at school which you just had to attend. If the boss is making you stay late, your child's daycare center charges outrageous late fees and you just don't have the extra cash. If the boss is willing to let you expense it, pocket it.

I've kicked around this idea for a long time and wondered if anyone has ever tried it to see if it would really work. It's only fair. Married folk with children have been dumping off their personal life on us for years.

I would love to be able to call into work and tell my boss the truth: That I consumed too much wine at last night's tasting and cannot possibly make it in before 12 o'clock. Why should I get up an hour early and make up a more acceptable untruth? Since when should my social life take a back seat to a 7-year-old in a school musical? Both are equally important.

Is it just me, or is there always that parent at work whose kid's activities cause them to be out of the office more than they're in? I wonder how long some of them would keep their job if there weren't so many singles covering their asses for them while they're gone. It's our willingness to take on extra workloads that allows them to be the kind of parents that are socially expected.

They thank their bosses for the extra time off. They never thank the single folks who make that extra time possible, and who directly impact their ability to keep their jobs.

Singles in the workplace are overwhelmingly perceived as having no life, having tons of time on their hands, and have nothing better to do than to be at work. Family time is considered a precious gift and each moment is supposed to be treasured and held almost to the same level as a Holy Day.

When you're single, quality time with your unmarried peers is considered frivolous and unnecessary, and no matter what kinds of plans you may have -- be it concert tickets, dinner party, etc. -- you can never use it as a reason for not being at work or for not staying late in order to finish a presentation. Or for not covering a co-working parent's ass.

My hat is off to the people who make the career choice of raising the next generation. All I ask is that they realize it's a group effort, and not to take advantage of those of us who aren't quite there yet.

Add a comment