Sunday, January 2, 2011

Working Late

In case you don't know me, my wife is a stay at home mom. We have four children, and we home school. When quitting time comes, I try to get home and spell out my wife; she could use an adult around by then, as you can imagine. Our kids are 6, 3, 2, and 5 months old.

So, working in software development, late hours are something of a given. Whenever seventeen hundred rolls around, and I see that more time is needed, the internal dialogue sounds a little something like this:

Me: Oh, man, this is only three quarters done. I need it done by tomorrow.

AlsoMe: How long is it going to take to get finished?

Me: If I hustle, maybe another two hours. More like three.

AlsoMe: Two hours? THREE hours? You're gonna kill dinner, bedtime? Dishes by herself?

Me: I hear dinner time on the unemployment line is pretty unappealing. You wanna try that?

AlsoMe: Oh, be serious. You're not cutting it close because you've messed things up, you're cutting it close because you're given unrealistic deadlines.

Me: This again? Like it matters? There's no shortage of people who'd love a turn at making unrealistic deadlines right now, who'd work cheaper than you to boot, if you can't cut it. One person in every ten needs a job. How safe is yours?

AlsoMe: So put in an hour and a half, get home, finish in the morning.

Me: Yeah, ok, sure. After morning meeting, escalations, the usual "gotta minute" hour from all comers, and whatever the next project is, you're pushing into the next deadline. That's wise.

AlsoMe: You're leaving her alone in this, you realize that? Those are your kids, too.

Me: Yes, yes they are. And when I get home too late to have talked to them, hugged them, played with them, is she the one hurt by that, or am I? If I can't hold up my end of this arrangement during a global recession, will it have mattered if the house was clean while we're all on the street? I know she's tired, I know I've got the less physically demanding part of the job, and I can't help that. On the other hand, I've got the fear.

What fear?

Don't you hear it?

Now here's the interesting thing about this post, just before I submit it. I ran this by the missus, and she said, "It sounds as if you think I'm going to let you have it when you get home."

Actually, I don't. It's not even implied. I was sincerely looking at her plight, and looking toward trying to relieve her. So I don't have that problem.

She also said, "If you publish that, you might make a lot of women think you're asking them to back off of their husbands."

I know several men in this same position. Men fighting a war of attrition against their own fears, working in a youth worshiping IT sector, trying to hold the line against the front and rear, all the while taking both barrels when they walk in the door giving a day of overtime for which they receive not a penny of extra pay or even thanks.

So in this regard, if the shoe fits, wear it.

Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience;

Katharina - The Taming of the Shrew - Act V, Scene II

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