Family-Friendly Perks

by Regular Poster

My husband had a recent period of employment by one of the technology giants. Given the reputation, I expected that our lives would be much improved (in what way, I don’t really know). However, as a spouse and mother of small children, it was unpleasant to hostile. He went there from an environment that had been very inclusive (a start-up that had frequent gatherings, invited partners to important company announcements, celebrated employee milestones, etc.) Visiting the new office required registration and a badge, and after 18 months I didn’t know the name of a single co-worker.

While it is a luxury to complain about how generous benefits and perks are not working out well for your family, this recent NYT article rang true.

Silicon Valley: Perks for Some Workers, Struggles for Parents

The “great benefits” technology company he worked for had amazing things going on – I think. All of the information was contained on a secure company wiki. That means I could not find out about anything without asking DH pointed questions. There was no employee handbook. I think there was a gym benefit, there might have been some other things we could have used. In order to sort through health insurance options, I had to look over DH’s shoulder — he took seriously the admonitions about company security and not allowing me to navigate the wiki. In the end, we never used our vision insurance because it was just too complicated for me to manage.

But these examples exaggerate how family-friendly tech companies are, especially after the newborn phase… Some benefits, like free meals and on-site laundry, have a flip side of discouraging people from leaving.

In our experience, the family friendly programs seemed to be geared for employees in the first few years of parenthood. There was generous leave for new parents – sounded awesome, but we are past that stage. There was emergency child care coverage – but they would only pay for a specific day care center – and had to be booked in advance (somewhat negating the “emergency” part of the program). It was complicated – the center required for us to have vaccination records on file. The two times we tried to use it was unavailable for three children – and was a non-starter once kids had to be in school.

In any case, he ended up leaving because he didn’t like the work he was doing. He is now employed with a far more traditional employer with fewer benefits and a higher salary. He is home for breakfast and dinner. I have to say it is an improvement.

Totebaggers, what has your experience been with “family-friendly perks”? What would you want a company to offer? Would you stay for any of these benefits? A lot has been written about Google’s failed foray into on-site childcare — do you see that ever becoming a benefit that high-demand employees can expect?

Advertisements

184 thoughts on “Family-Friendly Perks

  1. The ability to work from home was absolutely, hands-down the best benefit to me for enabling me to work through the difficult years. During the time I was telecommuting, my company did away with individual offices and converted to cubes. I despise the physical work environment and would leave to work for another company that allows telecommuting. But I’m coming up on twenty years here, so will probably not actively look. i can’t think of any other family friendly benefits I’ve ever had that made any kind of significant difference to me. Having a good boss and team matter much more.

  2. In general, as more employers go to web-based communication of benefits, the employee is the only one who can manage the benefits as they tend to be posted only on internal systems that require at least passwords. This is very different from bringing home a benefit book that employee and partner/spouse could look at together and just call the number.

    For some time, I have had to manage the benefits from my employer/retirement system and he has had to manage his. I think we may miss out on some of them just because it is time consuming to go through the sites to figure out what is available and what is better. This is especially true when both employers offered something and you were trying to compare between the two. Also, the benefit was not always substantial enough to go through either the paperwork or the hassle of making a change.

    Some of the benefits we have used:
    * Cell phone plan discounts – his employer, my employer, our credit union.
    * Day care subsidy for using their contracted day care.
    * Gym membership discount – no longer offered at a location within a reasonable distance to us.
    * Health Insurance subsidy for covering dependants.

  3. I did forget telecommuting – but over the years that has and has not worked well for me. I think it depends upon your direct boss and co-workers. I had a boss who did not allow it in our department because it was at his descretion. He said he did not think he could actually work from home and he would find himself watching tv all day, so he thought everyone else would do the same thing. Right now it is working extremely well.

  4. He said he did not think he could actually work from home and he would find himself watching tv all day,

    I’d love to get a look at his working internet history.

  5. So the onsite and fairly subsidized daycare has been the #1 perk for me at my job (and besides vesting in the pension in two months, one of the only reasons I work where I do) but obviously once all the kids are in school that will not be something I care about. The holiday schedule is great (two weeks off around the holidays that aligns with the public school calendar) and a flexible boss are also perks. In general I find working in higher education on the rigid side when it comes to working from home/telecommuting. DH has back up daycare, which like the OP describes, you usually have to reserve in advance because it’s through a daycare center and has a service you can hire out to do errands (which we’ve never used).

  6. Flexible work environment and good boss are the best “perks” of my job. This means if I need to leave early or come in late to take a kid to the doctor or catch one of DD’s soccer games or go to DS’ class party while he’s still young enough to want me to come, it’s no big deal. In fact my boss actively encouraged me to go to my son’s class party this year (my boss has a teenager so he knows those days of your kids wanting you at their school will come to an end). Similarly, I don’t telecommute on a regular basis but if I need to do so because either we’re having a new dishwasher installed or one of the kids is home sick, it’s not a big deal. The focus is on getting my work done – not making sure my butt is in my seat from 8 – 5.

  7. “Oh, and don’t forget the ultimate family friendly perk – money.”

    You are absolutely right, Rhett. But that assumes you have a dependable and committed spouse/partner. Relying on paid staff, as I’ve found, doesn’t work as well as an “on-site”, “fully involved”, “vested” parent/spouse/partner.

    I have loved all our nannies. Junior less so. Since I’ve spent more time at home, my son has done far better. I really can see the difference.

    Now there are tons of times I’d rather be downtown, 40 stories up, watching cruise ships come and go and making lots of money. Not dealing with him, or the Mothers Club or whatever. But it seems my highest best use is to be at home, working best I can. And I can do it. Even with the TV on.

    I think employers ought to allow that flexibility.

  8. “Totebaggers, what has your experience been with “family-friendly perks”?”
    Very little – most companies I’ve worked for have not had family-friendly perks. I’ve just made it work when family demands could not be organized into the non-work hours.

    “What would you want a company to offer? Would you stay for any of these benefits?”
    -Paid (or partially paid) parental leave to be taken within the first 6 months of a child’s life or adoption placement – pipe dream, but it would enable more people to do what DH and I did – cobble together 5 months of care for our son between paid and unpaid leaves.
    -flexible schedule (more akin to ROWE than butt-in-seat time)
    -generous PTO policies (I have sh!tty vacation time, but we do have comp time based on the hour – for every hour I work over 37.5 I get that hour banked to use as PTO)
    -onsite child care would be nice but I don’t see that happening any time soon
    -paid (or partially paid) sabbatical time to be taken after X years of service

    I would definitely think harder about staying with that company. Currently, even though I’ve been with my company for 10 months, I would definitely stay with them for the long haul. They have made my surprise transition to motherhood very easy, especially when they could have made it insanely hard. They allowed me to take my leave and my job was here, even though they didn’t have to guarantee it because I didn’t qualify for FMLA. They’ve also allowed me to go to my son’s doc appointments in the middle of the day.

    I second (third) the awesome boss and team comments!

  9. When [large] employers choose family friendly benefits, they usually choose what is least expensive. New parent leave increased from 3 days with DS1 to 2 weeks with Baby WCE. In theory, it allows fathers to be more involved, but in practice, Mr WCE took care of the house, the older three kids and followed through with lots of phone screens, because their group is overloaded and they need to hire people.

    Subsidized family health insurance is a major perk for our family. I will deliberately average 24-29 hours/week rather than 31 hours/week to avoid paying the spousal medical insurance surcharge- I’m not going to LOSE money by working more. If my employer ever hires in my area again, I would be willing to increase my hours to 30 hr/week, the minimum amount regular employees can normally work.

    I’m a bit nervous about the backup childcare. They send a sitter to your house. My friends who tried it when their kids were 3 and 5 accidentally trapped their sitter in the basement due to an old-style door latch and the parents had to let the sitter out a couple hours later, when they got home. I’d probably be OK with whomever mostly because DS1 (8) does a reasonable job of looking out for Baby WCE, and that dynamic should only improve with time.

    A flexible schedule is the primary family friendly benefit. My colleagues tend to be from the butt-in-seat area, as are the small local employers. Mr WCE took (and probably will continue to take) most of the child sick days because he can work from home much more easily than I can right now. Plus, he’s a great Dad for taking care of his sick child, and I’m a horrible employee for doing the same thing.

  10. Rhett – I don’t consider my comp plan, the $$ I get paid, a ‘perk’. Perks are the things I get beyond my direct comp.

    Valuable to me/us:
    – Employer contribution to retirement, and it’s a contribution not a match, at 8.25%
    – Salary deferral plan with well-run, low-cost options (compared with DW’s plan that while containing mostly well-run funds, they are (much) higher cost than they need to be)
    – Ample vacation time. Except in our group it’s tough to take more than a couple of long weekends between roughly New Years and mid-May. But easy enough, with some coordination for coverage, to actually take time in the summer (compared with a previous employer where except for the last couple of weeks in August, and between Christmas and New Years, taking any time was met with guilt-inducing remarks, hestitation, etc)
    – cell phone discount
    – good and inexpensive health care plan, disability plan
    – “wellness” programs, some of which I should take advantage but have not yet motivated that way

    Other stuff that doesn’t really apply:
    – 1st time home buying incentive
    – adoption benefit / time off
    – tuition reimbursement plan for me and spouse. We both have graduate degrees and are not really inclined to pursue something more on that front.
    – on site gym access. (a) more expensive than my gym (b) actually less convenient, especially on weekends or other days off

    And one that’s not in the employee manual…I have not had to travel for business, except for a couple of driving events in the last 7+ years, contributing to my hands-on-dedness. Maybe getting out of the office once every couple of months would be good, but I’m happy the way things are.

  11. PTM,

    But, to be serious. As we assume Milo’s analysis is correct, your son immensely benefits from your current comfortable circumstances and freedom to provide the care he needs. This is something that would not have been possible if you’d gone into social work or interpretive dance.

  12. I do like the idea of PTM doing an interpretive dance though. Could be a fundraiser. The Mothers Club could sell tickets.

  13. Oh, and sort of on topic For those of you that travel, even occasionally for work:

  14. I stay for the flexibility. Nobody caring where or when I work is Awesomeness #1 to me (I am currently in my comfy desk at home, as a matter of fact, because I had to meet a guy this AM and need to get DD this PM; tomorrow I will be at home again, because DS is “student of the week,” and I get to go read to the class and listen to a 3rd grade recorder concert — a/k/a Good Mommy Brownie Points).

    I actually just had this conversation last months with our associates. We lose a number of associates to agencies and to in-house positions, largely because they think those are more “flexible.” I gave them specific examples of my in-house experience (e.g., “need to request permission and take personal leave to go to the dr. between 8:30-5:30, stay as late as they need you to to get the work done, but don’t expect OT pay or comp time when you do.”). Realistically, if you want to knock it out of the park at either of those other jobs, you’ll be working just as hard as for us; OTOH, if you want to work part-time, you can do that just as well here as there. So go for it if that’s your dream job, but don’t do it because you suddenly expect it to be a kicked-back gravy train. Most of my clients work harder than I do.

    Other than that, my next favorite benefit is our additional 401(k) deferral that comes out of the EOY payment — great way to save extra for retirement without ever feeling pinched, because the EOY check is just smaller than you would have gotten otherwise. I also like how easy our benefits are — if you are just doing single coverage, it’s basically paid for and automatic. Finally, I love our fitness room in our spare office — we do offer a gym “credit,” but it was like $15/month, and there was no place nearby that also had places near my house, and so we all voted to make our own fitness room and forfeit the credit. Works much better with my schedule.

  15. LfB – we have a friend who went in house about a year ago, he works twice as hard as he did back in his law firm days for less money. He seems to like it because the work is so varied but at the same time that’s why he’s having to put in so much work (law firm work is so niche and he’s kind of a fill in guy in the legal department and works on a range of issues). DH sometimes complains about the “on call” part of law firm life but in reality that is a small percentage of his time. Most days he’s home for dinner, can manage last minute stuff at home if he’s not on a call or in a meeting and everyone on his team has kids so they all are trying to get home to their families relatively early and just log back on at night from home.

  16. Rhett, that article is absolutely wonderful! Thank you. I guess if I had an unlimited amount of money, I’d pay $180k for a nanny who did a toothbrush dance, too. But I don’t. Our last nanny, who truly loves my kid, was paid about $50k, took the kid to her place after school, was provided with a car and insurance and, of course, I paid for tickets.

    Now that I don’t have a nanny, I save a huge chunk of change. Or at least for me it is.

  17. For me it was not the employer (the employers I’ve been at had fairly similar family policies on paper) but the teams/groups I joined. I was in one group where we worked insane hours. There was no way I could start a family being in that group. I had heard but was shocked to find other groups in the same company with flexibility and manageable hours. So there was one set of people working insane hours but getting paid the same as other sets of people. The hard worker set had prestige but that was about all. A Rhett moment dawned and from then on I have been much more savvy about work situations.

  18. “The hard worker set had prestige but that was about all.”

    For some, they get the perk of avoiding whatever’s at home. Don’t underestimate that. Just one example I’ll share is a guy I worked with on the boat. He would work all kinds of stupid hours, nights and weekends when he didn’t even have to. He had a horrible marriage (no kids, luckily), and whenever we were in port for a long time, he would say that they were close to divorcing. Things would get “better” whenever we were out to sea for awhile.

    Not long after he transferred off, they divorced.

  19. As far as law firms go, my last firm was pretty family-friendly. 18 weeks of paid maternity leave (4 for paternity), back-up childcare, very little face time, ability to work from home if I wanted. Mothers still left in droves. A client-service business is tough, even if the employer tries to be accommodating, particularly when your value to the firm is your time.

  20. Ability to work from home and flexible hours are the most important family friendly benefit. I have never worked for a company or institution with any kind of childcare benefit, so I have no idea how that might work. My husband worked for a company with a backup childcare benefit, which we used a couple of times during the dreaded week in August when school hasn’t started back up but the camps are all closed. They sent a babysitter out to your house, for $15 an hour + travel. You have to book a week in advance, so no good for emergency needs. And the second time we used it, the babysitter decided halfway through the day that it was too hot and she wanted to go home NOW. I had to come racing home because I swear she would have just left my kids alone. After that, never again.

  21. For some, they get the perk of avoiding whatever’s at home.

    Others are, to my mind, surprisingly into titles.

  22. ” As we assume Milo’s analysis is correct, your son immensely benefits from your current comfortable circumstances and freedom to provide the care he needs.”

    I think that is the nicest thing that has ever been said to me here, or perhaps anywhere else. Thanks, Rhett, but it is not well-deserved. Or earned. Just ask Junior.

    And you have to know that I want to go back to work. Really. As much as I say I’m ready to die, I certainly am too busy to do it today and tomorrow doesn’t look good either. But Junior is my priority. I really believe that right now that dealing with him is my “highest and best use”. That will change.

    I am more lucky than I can express having this flexibility in this time of my life. But my employer sure as heck did not provide it! I did.

    I do not know why it seems impossible (especially in law) not to compensate people for what clients people bring in, what revenue they collect and their overhead costs. That sounds like a deal to me! And also a no-brainer. Especially as law becomes increasingly feminized.

  23. The most hilarious situation happened when a manager from a more laid back team transferred into my worker bee team. He would decide to go golfing on a weekday afternoon. He would pretend to go to a meeting in another building and quietly sneak off. It worked for a while but when he was really needed one day, he couldn’t be contacted and wasn’t able to rush back from the other building.

  24. I think DH’s law firm has a system sort of like that, PTM. There are some guys there who just get a paid a percentage of their (collected) billed hours. They’re not on the partner track, so they won’t get a share of the profits of the firm, but they’re essentially independent contractors who use the resources of the firm to do their work and the firm takes a percentage of their billables.

  25. It is really common for Manhattan based tech companies to cater lunch for their employees every day. Many of them are located in buildings without cafeteria faciliites, and they don’t want their employees going out for lunch. I worked at one such company for a while. The lunch would be brought in from a local restaurant, set up in a conference room, and everyone would stream in, grab something, and go back to their cube.

  26. For nearly 17 years, I had a flexible schedule and ability to work from home, and oh, how I miss it now! At the engineering firm where I worked for 13 years, we not only had flexible scheduling but we got paid hourly. That has its own problems in terms of motivating productivity, but it was so nice to be able to take time off without pay and reduce weekly hours when I needed to. I also used their tuition reimbursement program to get my MBA (and reduced my schedule to about 35 hours/week when I had classes too).

    My current boss is very involved with his family (sports coach, scout leader, etc.) and I think that he thinks an 8-5 schedule with no expectations for after-hours work is family-friendly since it works for him. But he has a wife who handles all the daily “stuff.” I would much rather have the freedom to work from home if I had a sick child or needed to meet the plumber and to put in time after hours rather than taking leave to go to the doctor or take my dog to the vet. Maybe he will eventually come around – or maybe my employer will eventually mandate flexibility throughout the organization.

  27. “I do not know why it seems impossible (especially in law) not to compensate people for what clients people bring in, what revenue they collect and their overhead costs.”

    I didn’t realize firms *didn’t* do this. Our comp system is based on amount of $ you bring in from your work, amount of $ other people working on your matters bring in from their work, and amount of $ you bring in in origination. You can go part-time at any level, and your expectations are adjusted proportionately. There are always arguments around the edges (we’re lawyers, after all), but by and large it makes it pretty darn easy to decide exactly how hard you feel like working and how much you want to make.

  28. Rhett – *I’m* ‘comfortable’. Nobody would ever think to ask me for political contributions. That’s a whole ‘nother sort of comfortable.

  29. LfB, would your law firm like a good 60 something corporate lawyer who likes to work primarily from home? And believe me! It is not my clients who complain. They always know where to find me, and they know my tricks. That’s because I tell them.

  30. And Milo, my political contributions to our Junior Senator and former Governor were extorted from me. Nobody who knows me at least would think of asking me for political contributions for them.

    (Tee, hee. I’m being hit up right now for contributions to Jeb! I’m a Hillary sort of guy. I have no intentions of contributing anything in this election cycle, except, maybe, to a local friend who I am convinced would do a good job and thus be unelectable.)

  31. LfB, the difference between where I work and where you work is that my tech employer manages on headcount, not FTE (full-time equivalents). Thus, managers were mandated to get rid of x bodies, and despite official policy, at the individual manager level, that had the predictable effects on the availability of part-time work.

    This has predictable effects on who takes severance packages- the “farewell” bulletin board after a severance offer was overrepresented 10x with new moms.

  32. Flexibility is the number one reason I work where I do. My kids school and medical appointments take up way more time between 8-5 than I ever imagined. The second is health insurance. My plan is so much better (and cheaper) than my spouses. Unfortunately the writing on the wall and come November I wouldn’t be surprised if it disappears and replaced with a lesser plan. And when it does, my out of pocket spending for medical will increase several thousand.

  33. @PTM — If we did corporate work, you’d be at the top of our list. :-)

    @WCE — sounds like the law of unintended consequences in action, with a hint of “boy do those guys need to consult with an employment lawyer before they get sued.”

  34. “I do not know why it seems impossible (especially in law) not to compensate people for what clients people bring in, what revenue they collect and their overhead costs.”

    I didn’t realize firms *didn’t* do this.

    I seem to be reading PTM’s comment differently than others. I read it to mean that he is looking for a firm that doesn’t base compensation on a person’s net revenue. “impossible not to compensate people..” means “it’s only possible to compensate people..” the way I read it.

    Of course, IANAL.

  35. @WCE — sounds like the law of unintended consequences in action, with a hint of “boy do those guys need to consult with an employment lawyer before they get sued.”

    I disagree – I think that’s fully the intended consequence. It sounds to me like they want to get rid of the part-timers.

  36. Well, that’s the other reading, which my cynical self says is more likely. But it’s also an awesome way to get your butt sued, if you hold yourself out as “family-friendly” and then lay off everyone who takes advantage of that policy.

  37. LfB – how I wish my firm did transparency! It would be SO MUCH BETTER if they said, the overhead per person is $X, your collectibles on worked time are $Y, your collectibles on origination are $Z, here is your compensation. Instead we have a wildly varied system where all the lateral income partners have a different deal from each other, and all the salaried people are paid way less than the lateral income partners (even if our title is now “partner”).

  38. As far as perks – #1 at my job now is flexibility and working from home. I can take an extra day here and there to work from home and they don’t really mind. I also used the “healthy advantage” whatever program to get my dr to sign a form saying I’m in good health and then get $300. (Note, only 4 people out of the 50 at my workplace did this) We don’t have backup care or gym memberships or anything.

    I do NOT use the health care reimbursement fund (FSA? unknown) – it is $1000 but none of the receipts I put in are ever counted, so I just ignore it now.

  39. Just popping in to let you know that Baby June has arrived! She is amazing. We are exhausted but deliriously happy.

  40. I was thinking about other perks of my company on my way back to the office from DS’s dental appointment – my 401k employer contribution. I’m not sure I’ll get it this year because of their rules (seriously, you have to work X number of hours over X number of months and be employed for X number of months), but it will be nice when I do. The contribution is 10% of my salary. I haven’t had that nice of an employer contribution/match in a long time.

    I think that contribution makes up for the insurance plan – it’s horrible. DH’s is fantastic, so we’re sticking with that one. He also gets a cell phone discount, and a FIOS discount.

    DH and I decided that we are the perfect equation – I bring in the money, he brings the health benefits. This means neither of us are ever quitting our jobs. But we’re ok with that!

  41. “I have loved all our nannies. Junior less so.”

    Just to clarify, I assume you meant that Junior did not love your nannies as much as you loved your nannies, not that you loved your nannies more than you loved Junior.

  42. But it’s also an awesome way to get your butt sued, if you hold yourself out as “family-friendly” and then lay off everyone who takes advantage of that policy.

    Part-time workers aren’t a protected class.

  43. “Just to clarify, I assume you meant that Junior did not love your nannies as much as you loved your nannies, not that you loved your nannies more than you loved Junior.”

    Tee, hee. I really need to learn how to write, don’t I?

    Junior did not particularly care for the nannies. Stupidly, he cared for me. I love Junior more than life itself. But I hate the trek to and from his school each day even more.

    Go figure.

  44. June – congrats!

    Fred – so is my boss ;)

    I don’t have much in perks, not even health insurance – although I think pay is adjusted upward as everyone has to go to the individual market. Although we do get some 401K contributions based on firm profitability.

    I am here entirely because of the flexibility – boss and others have families of similar age and working from home with a sick kid, multiple dr and dentist apts and kid school functions are all fine. It is also a 20 minute commute versus at least an hour if I was going into SF and two hours if heading down to silicon valley. The distance was a huge factor when DD was diagnosed with type 1 – knowing I could be at her school in 10 to 15 minutes in the middle of the day if necessary – and it was a few times – saved my sanity. Of course after the divorce it became even more important and the my boss understanding that I am now a single mom is priceless (I think he understands better than most as his SAH wife seems to go on weekly trips several times a year and leaves him on his own with their two kids of similar age as mine). And he is a nice guy.

  45. @DD and LfB – wouldn’t just the public threat of a lawsuit be enough? A judge could throw it out, but the second the media gets wind of it, the coverage would be negative and possibly enough for a policy change…

  46. June– Congratulations!

    My DH regularly discusses the in house v. law firm pros and cons. It seems like for some folks, in house work just means the same (or longer) hours for less money. He gets flexibility at the firm by just taking it. Some of the partners tut-tut and are still about face time, but there seem to be few significant negative consequences. I think the butt in seat thing is starting to shift in a lot of places but it can be slow.

  47. I have used telecommuting and flexible work arrangements when needed. They kept me in the workforce but didn’t keep me at jobs that I found boring or with a negative interpersonal culture. I am working more than I would like and am the only woman in a senior level and all of the men have stay at home wives. I get done what is most important on the kid front, delegate the rest to DH, nanny or Amazon Prime and bring my laptop home every night. Do extra work in early am about 4 days of the week. I wish DH would look for a job with more flexible hours but honestly they are better off with the nanny. He is hermit-like and won’t cart them out for optional activities. I can tell nanny to run them around for extra sports practice, make them do extra homework and she will run errands as requested. I hire friendly, educated young women. Moms are more likely to have kids go on play dates with 27 year old cute nanny than home with DH.

  48. DD, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disparate_impact

    They wouldn’t have to show that the employer’s downsizing policy that focused on reducing headcount instead of reducing FTE was actually targeted at women and/or mothers. Just the fact that the effect (as WCE noted) was disproportionately to remove all the new mothers from the workplace.

  49. Fred, I didn’t realize your home town only incorporated in 1985.

    June, congratulations!

  50. “my tech employer manages on headcount, not FTE ”

    Do you count as head as a contractor?

  51. That Shuddle service is brilliant. It will make a bazillion dollars.

  52. Rocky, yeah until then we were just part of unincorporated Contra Costa County. That seemed to work fine, but enough rabble-rousers wanted more local control.

  53. Another Totebag Baby!! Welcome to Baby June! May she be a NMSF someday.

  54. OT, the main family-friendly benefit here is the unofficial flexibility of hours. Because we need to get out of the office regularly, we’re used to people not being in their cubes much of the time, so people are used to dealing with that situation.

    The other benefits I use are showers and a place to park my bike. This facilitates biking to work, which only takes a bit longer than driving, and biking home from work, which takes more time than biking in (I live at a higher elevation than the office), but by the time I get home, I’m done with my exercise for the day.

  55. May she be a NMSF someday.

    May they not only be among the 15,000 finalists but may they be among the 8,000 recipients of Merit Scholarship awards in addition to being one of the 2500 winners of the National Merit $2,500 Scholarship.

  56. I am waiting for the unintended consequences of the $15 (or whatever higher than current) minimum wage to become obvious. And they will. I really think this higher rate will just expand the pool of applicants for e.g. Facebook’s contractors so they will be able to hire better qualified, more effective and efficient employees, thereby enabling them to hire fewer per erg of effort due to higher productivity. Employment could honestly go down.

    Now, some will make the argument that those who are not selected for the $15/hr jobs can get $12/hr jobs that were vacated by people who went to the $15/hr jobs, so that’s still better than current minimum and everyone wins.

    I’m not sure it will work out that way. And I think there’s a possibility everyone’s nominal wages increase but their real purchasing power remains the same.

  57. Finn – Contractors are not usually counted as heads. Also, for some years I was a so called permanent temp – a former contractor who spent so much time doing directed work at a single site that the employment law requirement is to make me an employee, limited to working less than 30 hours per week. At that company I was also not counted as a head. Because of Fed regulations I had to be eligible to participate in the 401k plan, but I received no other benefits, even with the ACA, and I could be terminated at will without severance.

    However, to WCE’s question, at most companies the part time professionals worked 30 – 32 hours a week to keep their benefits. They were counted as a full head. FTE’s were used for some productivity metrics, but not headcount.

    A lot of the women, even if they did not outearn their husbands, had the corporate job with the health insurance while husband was self employed/contractor/small business owner.

  58. I am off today, and spent the day with my husband at a place where you can bottle your own wine, and of course drink wine while you toil. So I’ve decided that the perk I need at work more than anything is the ability to put away a half a bottle of wine while I do my little tasks. (It was a fun thing to do, and we got to make our own label for the 30 bottles we came home with. I think it would be a great thing to do for a wedding shower or something).

    Congrats June! Very exciting news!

  59. Finn: “Because we need to get out of the office regularly, we’re used to people not being in their cubes much of the time, so people are used to dealing with that situation.”

    I was cleaning out some stuff over the weekend and came across a ~50yr old clipping from the local rag of the town I lived in as a younger kid. It showed a picture of the city engineering department, 8 white men if you must know, one of which was my dad, and the caption “a rare moment when all of the city engineers are in the office at the same time.”

  60. “So I’ve decided that the perk I need at work more than anything is the ability to put away a half a bottle of wine while I do my little tasks.”

    This is a legit perk in my industry (advertising), especially in on Friday afternoons, but other days too.

  61. Fred,

    You seem certain that this increase isn’t similar to Walmart’s increase and partially a result of increased demand for labor due to the economy improving.

  62. Mémé, you confirmed what I was guessing.

    I’m also guessing that if WCE’s indirect employer (I assume she is contracted through a contracting company, although she could be directly contracting) has been in the head cutting mode lately, that will increase her job security as a contracted non-head.

  63. Rhett, if it were the same as Wal-Mart’s increasing of their own employees’ pay, why does Facebook need to mandate it for its suppliers? The suppliers could just do it themselves, if they are having trouble getting qualified people to do the work Facebook is contracting for. If it’s truly a result of increased demand for labor, why would they jump all the way to $15? I think there would be plenty of people interested in a job paying something higher than minimum but lower than $15.

  64. ” spent the day with my husband at a place where you can bottle your own wine, and of course drink wine while you toil”

    MBT: Can you please e-mail me the name of place? This is a perfect anniversary present for DH!

  65. I think there would be plenty of people interested in a job paying something higher than minimum but lower than $15.

    Of adequate quality?

    why does Facebook need to mandate it for its suppliers? The suppliers could just do it themselves,

    Perhaps Facebook is unhappy with the current level of turnover and employee quality and this is easier than finding vetting and onboarding new suppliers.

  66. Perhaps Facebook is unhappy with the current level of turnover and employee quality and this is easier than finding vetting and onboarding new suppliers…

    Then they could express that dissatisfaction to their supplier(s) and say you need to get a better quality of employee that meets our needs. Why pick a specific number and how is $15 the magic number? Why not $16, $18, or even $21 (to go to the reputed Costco number).

  67. I overheard a conversation while getting my latte at the Safeway Starbucks counter one morning last week –

    Starbucks clerk (a Safeway employee I believe) to the Deli Manager that was getting her morning coffee “Are we getting any new help? We have no one scheduled after 2pm today and I am not staying” Deli Manager, “No and the three new Deli hires that all worked one week have quit because they found new jobs in Oakland.” Starbucks clerk, ” I am going to have to look in Oakland, especially if we don’t get any new help here, I can’t work this much overtime.”

    Oakland just instituted a $15 minimum wage. How long before surrounding areas have to match it to get good help? Or do they lower expectations and expect increased turnover? Or start hiring teenagers?

  68. Then they could express that dissatisfaction to their supplier(s) and say you need to get a better quality of employee that meets our needs

    Maybe they feel it’s easier to just mandate a $15 floor.

    I also think this maybe be something done to improve moral among their full time workforce. With all of them well paid and many in their 20s with net worth’s in the 7 or 8 figures – they perhaps want to feel less guilty about the economic status of those that serve them. The management and regular employees perhaps have a sense of noblesse oblige.

  69. Rhett, that’s what I was thinking. They get much better PR doing it as a FB move than quietly pushing their suppliers to do what’s needed to reduce turnover.

  70. “why does Facebook need to mandate it for its suppliers?”

    FWiW this seems to be the new black — it’s all about supply chain management. Remember all the stuff that Apple and Target and everyone for years has gotten about their sweatshops and worker exposures and such abroad. It’s not that surprising that the focus is expanding from international contractors to US-based ones, and from sweatshops to other employment conditions.

    Probably the most common “new” term I am seeing in our clients’ terms and conditions is an obligation to comply with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act — not just for ourselves, but to certify that all of the suppliers and vendors will comply as well. WTF? How exactly am I going to do that? We’re a law firm, not a multinational; I have no idea how I would even start to try to make sure that the paper we buy from our office services company didn’t come from an endangered tree on the other side of the world that someone paid the local inspector $2.50 to look the other way so he could cut it down.

    So what will happen is that we will create our own FCPA policy, and that policy will require our suppliers and vendors to certify that THEIR supply chain is compliant, and then they do the same, and then we all have lots of pretty pieces of paper and wasted man-hours, all to do the exact same thing everyone is doing now. But that’s another issue.

  71. “So what will happen is that we will create our own FCPA policy, and that policy will require our suppliers and vendors to certify that THEIR supply chain is compliant, and then they do the same, and then we all have lots of pretty pieces of paper and wasted man-hours, all to do the exact same thing everyone is doing now. But that’s another issue.”

    Welcome to the automotive industry. But we did the FCPA push to suppliers years ago. Since then, we’ve added ITAR, EAR, UN Ten Principles, 3TG, anti-corruption (since FCPA isn’t as strict as the UK Bribery Act), gifts/meals/entertainment spending (which companies use to end run the FCPA and UKBA), environmental sustainability, IMDS reporting, ISO certification, HSE training, and a bunch of other CSR (corporate social responsibility) items. Our customers have 50 ppl in their supply chain compliance departments in the U.S. only. I *am* the supply chain compliance department in our company, in the U.S. and 14 other countries. I could do nothing but this full time and still not be done.

  72. Finn – very funny.

    Congrats June. Welcome to the world little baby June bug. Hang on, its gonna be a wild ride.

    OT – DH uses almost no perks except maybe the subsidized parking. When we had our son, we tried to get the discounted breast pump through a program at his work but it was only for the female employees, not spouses so we paid full price for the Medela.

  73. LfB, my employer is very careful to follow employment law. In the cases I was thinking of, the desired headcount is achieved by a combination of voluntary and involuntary reductions, with the voluntary coming first.

    Involuntary reduction bodies = Desired reduction – Voluntary bodies

    And the site has gone from ~7000 people to ~1400, so lots of reductions, retirements, early retirements, etc. My employer is so careful to follow employment law that when I “volunteered” for an involuntary reduction, I told my fellow pregnant colleague because that let her be pretty sure she would NOT be reduced. (Division number was decreasing by around 40%.) They would definitely NOT involuntarily reduce both their pregnant women engineers.

    In other news, I sold the twin stroller on craigslist to Mr WCE’s soccer co-coach for their trip to Disneyland. It’s a small, small world!

  74. Congrats!!!! It is very exciting to have another totebag baby.

    I wasn’t able to check in today because I was the parent representative to hire a new teacher. I’ve been able to interview candidates for the elementary school, but this was the first time that I was able to participate in the process to hire a teacher that is certified for 7 – 12th grades with subject matter focus. It was a fascinating process, and I heard about some of the “perks” in my district. It is interesting to meet these candidates and they are influenced by their current positions. I met some amazing young teachers today, and I hope that bright kids continue to go into teaching.

    The perk that I miss the most is free health insurance. I had this for my entire family at my last job because it was offered to every employee. I didn’t realize that it was also the “Cadillac” of plans until I switched to plan with my husband’s employer. We have a lot of additional fees and charges because their plan is not as generous. It isn’t enough to make me want to go back there, but I really miss that plan.

    A favorite perk that was offered by all of the large American banks that I worked for was corporate memberships to most of the museums and botanical gardens in NYC/ major cities. I could use my ID to get into almost any museum with guests for free. The banks used to be major donors so employees could often get into exhibits during special previews too.

  75. Milo, I’m going to answer that seriously. (I know I shouldn’t.)

    I’m not sure I believe it. Sure, for some. Like Bobby Kennedy, Jr. at Riverkeepers or whatever it is. Lots and lots of galas. Lots and lots of interviews on the Today Show. There is no reason in the world for him to make money.

    But I work with people at guardian at litem. Among other things, they have to deal with unqualified and scared volunteers like me. Maybe they make $40K? They don’t seem happy. They do seem professional and they do a world of good. But happy and fulfilled in the world– I don’t think so. They deal with so much misery on a day-to-day basis. They seem to shoulder their burdens heavily.

    The happiest lawyers I know are what Tom Wolfe would call the Big Swinging Dicks. Oh yeah. Despite the real size they really swing them, be them male or female. The rainmakers! The lateral hires at $7M per year. Oh, they are big. And they are happy. And they leave when they damn well feel like it, assured that service partners, non-equity partners and senior associates are there to manage the flow. The most senior of these subordinate lawyers might even have the rainmaker’s phone number and get invited to watch a Dolphins game from the box once every 3 years. Don’t bring your kid, though. Bring a client.

    I don’t know about their personal lives, really. But professionally, those big boys and girls seem pretty happy.

  76. Lauren’s comment about the health insurance actually supports Rhett’s contention that at least some of the time money is a perk, too. The sort of never see a bill family insurance she had would today in a major metro area be worth $45K or more per annum, and that is after tax, so in NYS that would be about 80K or more pretax.

    The reason most of the perks under discussion are not readily translated into incremental dollars is that the greatest job value for most parents or other work/life balancers is the opportunity to do mentally challenging or meaningful work for adequate pay, but not all the time and with some control over schedule. WCE’s engineer bosses were motivated by head count targets to reduce part timers, and hence mothers. Every corporate finance department in the country is motivated to offer flexibility to as many smart grateful mothers as possible in mid management and supervisory level because they do good work for 2/3 of what a man would cost and don’t get itchy for advancement.

  77. And the winner of “Using the Most Acronyms in a Comment in the History of This Blog” goes to….Risley. :)

  78. PTM – it did occur to me that the researcher for that happiness article may need to create some data controls, by cross referencing Mooshi’s Vox article that illustrated how “income” doesn’t paint the whole picture.

  79. Ha, Lemon. Sorry about that — was directing it at LfB in a commiserating sort of way and figured she’d know them all.

  80. I’ve run into the problem of not being able to access information about my H’s employer benefits because it’s on a protected site. It’s a bit annoying because I’m the “worrier in charge” of this stuff.

    Years ago we used the emergency childcare benefit, which was nice and filled the gap when our regular babysitter was unavailable.

  81. ” Every corporate finance department in the country is motivated to offer flexibility to as many smart grateful mothers as possible in mid management and supervisory level because they do good work for 2/3 of what a man would cost and don’t get itchy for advancement.”

    Ain’t that the truth! The market rules, or blatant discrimination? It depends on your view, I guess.

  82. I am obsessed with the news coverage of the Amtrak crash because I commuted several times a week between Wilmington and NY. I spent so much time on those trains and I just feel terrible for the victims and their families.

  83. Regarding the Amtrak crash, I’m really tired of the disproportionate focus on stuff like this when it happens in any place between DC and Boston. Everything that happens between DC and Boston gets a huge amount of coverage. Meanwhile, entire towns in the midwest have been destroyed by tornadoes, same number of people dead and oh, the whole town is gone, but it didn’t happen between DC and Boston so it only a small mention. Same thing with the earthquake in Nepal. I think it only got the coverage it did because of the folks at Everest. Horrible things happen on that side of the globe ALL THE TIME and it barely gets noted. Only when Westerners are involved do we really take note. I guess it isn’t fun to report from a place that doesn’t have a Starbucks. Stepping off my soapbox now.

  84. they do good work for 2/3 of what a man would cost and don’t get itchy for advancement.”

    If they have those complaints about their male staff maybe they shouldn’t hire so many douches.

  85. Re Amtrak, I remember getting on the Acela and being a frequent flyer and reaching around trying to find seat belt. Um…no seatbelts?

    Contrast this to flying. “This is the Captain we’re 30 yards from our gate so I’m going to need everyone to stay in their seat with thier seatbelt securely fastened until the ground crew arrives to marshal us in. 40 seconds later – wwwwwwhhhHHHOOO and we roll forward for two seconds and “bing” and everyone gets up.

    It all strikes me as odd.

  86. FWIW, my initial response was the same as PTM’s. I think it’s all about the sample pool — associates are not going to be happy because they’re paranoid about making partner, and many junior partners are not happy because now they’re trying to prove themselves. But by the time you get a little more senior, where you are running the cases yourself and making the decisions and able to hand off the scutwork to others, well, that can be pretty awesome. Of course, it’s a valid question whether it’s worth it to suck it up for 20 years first.

    The one point of the article I do agree with is that if you choose it just for the money, you’re likely not to be happy. I suspect that many of the folks who choose pro bono-type careers do it because they are really really interested in it, at folks who are doing the “don’t know what I want to be when I grow up” path are more likely to think like I did and say, hey, might as well start with the place that pays good money.” And then there may well be some big firm folks who really want to do pro bono but need to pay off their loans first. And then some people will never be happy, because whatever they do achieve/have, it will never be enough.

  87. Meanwhile, entire towns in the midwest have been destroyed by tornadoes, same number of people dead and oh, the whole town is gone

    That’s not news, it happens too often, it’s a dog bites man story.

  88. Moxie – People are more interested in tragedy news when they feel a closer personal connection to the victims. It’s played out over the years even here in this little micro-community online, and has been very apparent if you look at who was most passionate about things like the Virginia Tech shooting vs. Aurora. It’s just human nature. Now Lauren is interested because, as she said, she rode that line frequently. A USNA sophomore was one of the passengers killed, so that was on my Facebook feed last night from a number of people.

  89. While people may consider themselves sophisticated, I’ve found that most of us are somewhat provincial at heart.

  90. Milo – I agree, but I think the news forgets that there are millions of Americans who don’t live in the NE corridor who also watch CNN and the Nightly News.

  91. I think transportation tragedies of the type that do not occur very often attract a lot of interest. That is why we are riveted when a plane goes down, but no one cares much about the carnage on the highways. The same is even true for tornadoes. There was a lot of coverage on that huge tornado in Joplin Missouri, the one that hit the University of Alabama, and the one in Oklahoma that destroyed the schools. Those were unusual tornadoes so there was a lot of coverage.

  92. It is also six degrees of separation. When I heard of the USNA sophomore I thought of Milo. Reading the profiles of the others they were “people like us” – IT, CUNY administrator, banker etc.
    IRL – I don’t know any academics but through this blog, I *know* several.

  93. I remember shouting at the TV during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake while all the East Coast reporters were stumbling over the word “Hollister” and acting like California was as mysterious as the Gobi desert. If it had happened in New York they’d be specifying the exact Starbucks that was at the epicenter.

  94. For 9/11 – there was no one from our firm who died, though there could easily have been. One of our ex-colleagues had just gotten a job with another firm (a big step up for him with a promising future). We were all so happy for him (and a tad envious). It involved travel and in his first few months of the job, he happened to be on one of the planes.

  95. I think it is normal and appropriate to be more interested in things that are close to you. My husband was supposed to take the train Tues evening (probably the Acela, not the one that crashed, but I don’t know and I am not asking). He ended up going Wed (and then once the derailment occurred, he booked a flight) because of schedule conflicts. That could have been us or our neighbor down the street or my kid’s preschool teacher. While the tornadoes in the Midwest are sad and terrible, I don’t know anyone directly affected.

  96. I actually disagree that the chance is 0.0002 of 12 boys in a row. There are meaningful differences in x and y sperm, and anyone who has 10 sons probably has an environment or behavior that is preferentially selecting Y sperm. I would guess that their chance of subsequent boys is not 50% per pregnancy, but is likely higher than that (70%? 90%). I don’t think the sex of #14 is a coin flip.

    Now, I will go off to find something to support my made up statistics.

  97. Ada – That’s certainly possible, but if a genetics counselor is only going to spit out the calculator result of .5^12, then there’s no point in consulting a genetics counselor.

  98. Milo,

    The new baby joins Tyler, 22, Zach, 19, Drew, 18, Brandon, 16, Tommy, 13, Vinnie, 12, Calvin, 10, Gabe, 8, Wesley, 6, Charlie, 5, Luke, 3, and Tucker, 1.

    Vinnie?

  99. I thought that, too. Next to Tommy, they have a little bit of a Jersey Boys thing going.

  100. Thank you wikipedia!

    “human sex ratio at birth has historically varied between 0.94 to 1.15 for natural reasons”

    and

    “In a scientific paper published in 2008,[17] James states that conventional assumptions have been:

    -there are equal numbers of X and Y chromosomes in mammalian sperm
    -X and Y stand equal chance of achieving conception
    -therefore equal number of male and female zygotes are formed, and that
    -therefore any variation of sex ratio at birth is due to sex selection between conception and birth.

    James cautions that available scientific evidence stands against the above assumptions and conclusions. He reports that there is an excess of males at birth in almost all human populations, and the natural sex ratio at birth is usually between 1.02 to 1.08. However the ratio may deviate significantly from this range for natural reasons.”

    I would think it is possible that a certain male may not produce equal x and y sperm, that the x sperm are somehow defective, or that the xx zygote has a fatal defect.

  101. CoC – I bring up the mom ghetto of day to day corporate finance more for what it indicates about the ability of the market to adapt. From the employer’s side, it illustrates how “benevolence” is easy once the bottom line benefit is understood and a generation retires. The worker’s side is usually seen as a victory for educated middle class women. As an old line feminist, I see also the way in which a generation of professional women thinks that the struggle is mostly over because of flex time for managers and lactation rooms at law firms, which ignores lower income women and their families for whom “choice feminism” is largely irrelevant.

    And the Yahoo move to eliminate telework was as much about creating an inhospitable environment for workers over a (fairly low) certain age, as it was re-establishing a culture of collaborative total immersion.

  102. Well, it takes a genetic counselor to know that 0.5^12 was the right calculation to do. Or, at someone who has taken intro bio. But it doesn’t read as well to say, “We consulted a high school student who is doing ‘pretty good’ in biology and she stated that the chance of having 12 children of the same sex is 0.0002 based on a problem she had to do for homework last week.”

  103. “Well, it takes a genetic counselor to know that 0.5^12 was the right calculation to do.”

    Except I’m not a genetics counselor.

  104. Ada, I think you are on track with your assumptions. With with my small sample size of one family with two brothers and XX zygote problems in their offspring, I personally think there is a connection between males and X chromosomal abnormalities. I’ve been told there there aren’t enough studies to conclude one way or other.

  105. One of my high school friends had 8 brothers. Every single one of them was a state champion wrestler.

  106. And the Yahoo move to eliminate telework was as much about creating an inhospitable environment for workers over a (fairly low) certain age, as it was re-establishing a culture of collaborative total immersion.

    I’m not sure. I think “culture of collaborative total immersion” is a euphemism for what I would call an EOWE (Effort Oriented Work Environment) vs. a ROWE (Results Oriented Work Environment). It comes from the same place that has a kid with a 4.2 GPA not having mastered any of the material. But, but, they worked really hard!

    I think Ms. Mayer thinks hard work can solve anything even is she hasn’t mastered any of the skills needed to turn the company around. Sort of a, “I’m out of ideas but maybe we can make it up in volume.” Yahoo Inc missed Wall Street’s revenue and profit forecasts… the company had hired advisers to determine the “most promising opportunities” for its stake in Yahoo Japan. The moves follow unsuccessful efforts by Mayer to revive meaningful revenue growth with a string of acquisitions and product revamps.

  107. At least they didn’t try to name them all something that started with the same letter, Duggar-style. Of course, they could have dome something equally as cheesy and named the first one an A name, followed by a B name, C name, etc.

    *My apologies if you named your kids in either of these ways, but I reserve the right to think it’s cheesy.

  108. SWA – my Dad’s family had A,B,C names. One sister died in childhood and the names were not that common so most people were not aware of the pattern.

  109. @Rhett – I feel like the working from home at Yahoo had maybe gotten out of hand and perhaps people were not available most of the time, when they should have been, hence the “come into the office” rule.

  110. “but if a genetics counselor is only going to spit out the calculator result of .5^12, then there’s no point in consulting a genetics counselor.”

    DH and I needed to go through genetics counseling for fertility treatment. I have a family member with a pretty horrific genetic disease. After meeting with her, I realized that both DH and I had the skill set to do what she did – calculate our chances of creating a child with this genetic disease. The only thing the genetic counselor was good for was going through our genetics testing options after DS was diagnosed with the cleft.

  111. On The Duggars this week, they were doing a gender reveal party for Josh and Anna’s fourth child. Jim Bob made some comment like “Well, I think it’s going to be a girl, because they’ve had more boys now, and statistically it’s likely to balance out.”

    He said it in a way that didn’t leave me entirely sure he was being sarcastic.

  112. I feel like the working from home at Yahoo had maybe gotten out of hand and perhaps people were not available most of the time

    That is one thing that will never cease to amaze me. If you’re working at home, how hard is it to answer the phone when it rings or respond to an IM or e-mail in a timely manner? Bluetooth, hotspots, laptops, email on your phone, there is a whole host of technologies that will let you do your work and attend to your personal business.

    If you need to drive your 10 yo to karate, fine. Turn on the hotspot, give him your laptop, and have him tell you if you get any IMs of e-mails.

  113. Jim Bob doesn’t strike me as someone who is sarcastic much.

    I think it is that people don’t want to do what you are suggesting, Rhett. They want to “work from home” so that they can do laundry and go to the doctor’s office and grocery shop.

  114. They want to “work from home” so that they can do laundry and go to the doctor’s office and grocery shop.

    But, you can easily do that seamlessly. Why risk it?

  115. I think many people lack the ability to be self-starters, even if they want to be.

  116. “I think it is that people don’t want to do what you are suggesting, Rhett. They want to “work from home” so that they can do laundry and go to the doctor’s office and grocery shop”

    This is my my company as a “no work from home” policy. It sucks. My boss is a little more lenient, but we pretty much have to tell him what we did at home. (We can get away with it because my group works offsite). So I keep really good track of what I do (X hours responding to emails; X hours of research (here are my notes to prove it); X hours of reading these X numbers of papers (here are notes); etc.).

  117. many people lack the ability to be self-starters

    It doesn’t take being a self-starter to answer the phone when it rings. Or, bring your laptop to the game (and leave it in the car) in case your boss e-mails you asking for the McMillen file.

  118. SSK – don’t get me started on the gender reveal parties. My SIL/BIL did it over Christmas for their THIRD kid! We were all looking at each other trying to decide if they were being serious.

  119. “I just heard about a gender reveal party – what is up with that?”

    We’ve attended one. Ultrasound tech writes the baby’s sex on a note sealed in an envelope. The parents don’t look at it, but will often give it to a baker, who bakes a cake with either blue or pink filling [watch, this will be the comment that gets saac to pipe up!], and the filling is entirely obscured by the icing. When the parents cut the cake at the party, they, along with everyone else, learns the gender.

    Or, as the Duggars did this time, the professional event planner, Sierra, whom they now seem to keep on retainer, had an “It’s a Girl!” banner that unfolded at the same time everyone shot cannons of pink confetti.

  120. Isn’t any reason for a party a good reason? I know the Duggars don’t drink, but I’d go to a gender-reveal party if there were cake and wine.

  121. I can’t even.

    I guess I am becoming the “get off my lawn” lady because it seems that every tiny detail of our lives is supposed to be made public and celebrated in a silly manner.

  122. RMS – ugh. My work now has ‘birthday parties’ every so often with cake and wine. Blecccchhhh. I like my cake with milk or tea, but I might make an exception for some actually good champagne. ;)

  123. yeah, I’m kind of with Rocky on here. What’s the big deal? It’s kind of fun, and it’s an exciting surprise. And so what if it’s the third baby?

  124. RMS – I see your point, but I think the surprise (which is probably fake in many cases) would be something that you’d want to share with your husband/wife first.

    I am also not in favor of a man telling his family and his future wife’s family about a proposal beforehand so that they are “in on it” and hiding behind the furniture to jump out after she says yes.

    I guess a lot of people like it, or it wouldn’t be done, but I think I am just to private and curmudgeonly to enjoy that type of event – but a party afterwards sounds fun to me!

  125. I’m probably just grumpy today, day 4 of Whole 30, ugh. I do feel like it’s a bit over the top, but I am more of a private person, and it just seems narcissistic to me. Plus, what is everyone going to say, no matter what the gender? They say, “Yeah, how exciting”. As my dad says, it’s either one or the other.

  126. “I remember shouting at the TV during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake while all the East Coast reporters were stumbling over the word “Hollister” and acting like California was as mysterious as the Gobi desert. If it had happened in New York they’d be specifying the exact Starbucks that was at the epicenter.”

    There was a great photo in the SF paper showing Tom Brokaw spraying his hair before getting on camera. It was clear the newspaper was irritated with the east coast media.

  127. I also think I have a bit of the Eastern European grandmother in me (I am neither of those things) where you don’t talk about good stuff too much because it brings bad luck! Celebrating babies who are still only a few months along makes me nervous for some reason. I didn’t buy a bassinet until a few weeks before dd’s due date – just in case.

  128. I also think I have a bit of the Eastern European grandmother in me (I am neither of those things) where you don’t talk about good stuff too much because it brings bad luck”

    Have you ever heard of a mortgage-burning party? Those don’t seem to be much of a thing any more.

  129. Have you ever heard of a mortgage-burning party? Those don’t seem to be much of a thing any more.

    My church had one. It was the second mortgage, but still. There was cake (no wine). Maybe for the primary mortgage they’ll have wine. But I wouldn’t burn my actual mortgage documents just out of paranoia. What if I need them at some later point?

  130. Have you ever heard of a mortgage-burning party? Those don’t seem to be much of a thing any more.

    I didn’t realize people actually paid off their houses anymore. Don’t they just keep refinancing or take out additional mortgages so they can use the equity?

    (This is half serious, half sarcastic.)

  131. “I’d go to a gender-reveal party if there were cake and wine.” Well sure, if there’s wine and cake. I’d even go to church if there were wine and cake!

    I’m with the “its too much crowd” Everyone is carrying on and making a big deal about everything. I can’t believe these stupid “Promposals” where the boys have to go to extraordinary lengths to invite gals to prom – on the level of wedding proposals of yore which now require a flash mob. Its all so nuts. Girls feel like they have to send nudie photos to the boys to get them to notice them, but then the boys have to go crazy to ask them to prom even if they are already dating (who else would your longtime girlfriend go to prom with?) It is more nonsense than I can tolerate!

  132. The Catholics tend to use real wine; the Protestants use grape juice, and only once a month or so at that. But the Protestants are more likely to have some reason to give you cake (or donuts).

  133. Moxie – I’m with you on the Promposals. UGH. But I think the gender reveal party thing could be fun depending. I’m more with Rocky, especially assuming that this is NOT a gift giving occasion – just a party.

  134. The GR party we attended, we were supposed to bring a pack of diapers, so that’s what we did. No big deal. Where it gets questionable is that it was at a restaurant, and everyone was just supposed to buy their own food.

    OTOH, if we spent our whole lives bitching about what’s tacky and in poor taste, we’d end up with no friends at all.

  135. Where it gets questionable is that it was at a restaurant, and everyone was just supposed to buy their own food.

    That has nothing to do with it being a gender reveal party, that’s questionable for any kind of party.

  136. DD – I agree, especially if it wasn’t clear beforehand that it was more of a “let’s meet at a restaurant” get together instead of a party.

  137. Maybe we kind of figured that they were reserving a section of the restaurant and there would be a buffet of food for everyone that they provided? Instead, we all sat down and ordered and got our checks. So with three kids (I guess only two were eating solid food at the time), maybe we paid $50. It’s not great etiquette, but who reallly cares in the end?

    They’re solidly middle class–he’s a government IT contractor. We’re solidly middle class, too, but maybe a little more middle class since DW works, also. It was fun. Fun enough.

  138. My old engineering firm had a “burn the note” party to celebrate paying off the loan for the employees buying the company from the founder. They had a picnic lunch and invited all the firm’s alumni, so I went. It was kind of fun – I almost wish they’d have an alumni picnic every year. Well, maybe every 5.

Comments are closed.