Friday, September 3, 2004

A Nod to Singles' Efforts

A workplace column published today in the Journal Times of Racine Wisconsin acknowledges the contributions that single employees make to the workplace.  Here's what Mike Moore, an associate editor who is soon-to-be-married, had to say.

One thing for which I'm ecstatic this week: I'm not the parent of a school-age child.

Nothing against the little dudes and dudettes. Their enthusiasm (or, for some, lack of it) for the first day of class is fun to see. But my smile would've been wiped away by the Yellow Bus Incident, as it may be referred to for years to come.

I'm sure it was chaotic for everybody: Racine Unified employees in full crisis mode; bus drivers charting new territory; or parents dialing nonstop in search of the correct plan.

You can bet moms and dads had to juggle work schedules and appointments the past couple of days to make sure little Madison or Connor got to school all right. Seems like they're used to it. Kids and unpredictability come in the same shiny package.

That's where the domino effect could start. A parent's absence could lead to a workplace backlog, which could lead to the decline of the stock market, which could lead to instant poverty and suicides.

Yeah, that's Mr. Chicken Little, to you. Luckily the domino effect never gets too far. Only it's not luck; often it's workers who don't have children filling in the gaps.

This doesn't just happen the first week of school. It happens every day. Sure, I'll cover your weekend shift while Abbey goes to soccer camp. You've got to take Dante for his orthodontist's appointment? No problem, I'll come in.

Yet nobody really acknowledges the sacrifices single people make. We don't think our bosses do, for one.

It's no longer piping hot news, but a late '90s study suggested "single, childless employees feel they are getting a smaller share of the company benefits while shouldering more of the workload."

I clipped that from an article in "The Washington Times." It's posted on a Web site for the American Association for Single People (

No, that's not one of those goofy political funds. It's a national group lobbying for equal treatment for singles.

AASP - I've heard catchier acronyms - offers a bunch of suggestions employers could use to give more flexibility to single workers. One is to set up "time banks," where workers could buy extra time off from their company or sell back what they can't use.

Which reminds me of another group that doesn't pay enough attention to singles: Politicians. The "marriage penalty" keeps coming up in presidential campaign speeches, and we're already deep into the "But you said," "No, I didn't" phase. Our own U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan even mentioned it in his speech to the country on Wednesday night during the Republican convention.

What gets lost is, as the AASP site points out, most couples get extra money by being married, not less.

Hey, marriage is great. It's something we should encourage, just like parenting. I can appreciate that being a parent involves sacrifices. I've seen my friends trade in their social lives in exchange for their kids' scrapbooks.

But, at times, I wish somebody would focus on the people who don't yet have branches of the family tree hanging beneath them. Times like the Yellow Bus Incident.

So here's to you, single people. Wait, I mean us. For another couple of months I'm in that category. Even when I join the other side, I'll try to be good to you. In a couple of years, I might need you to cover for me.

Dove hunters wanted Besides the school year, another post-Labor Day tradition is just getting under way: Hunting season.

One of the first critters to be fair game is the mourning dove. Now that the legal battles have been blown away, I'd like to talk to Racine County people who plan to hunt the birds this season.

So far I'm mostly out of luck. If you're a dove hunter, please contact me (my information is below) and I'll see if I can use you in an upcoming column.