Last night, I was in a bit of a funk, so I settled down for a few episodes of Cheers on Netflix. Good wholesome show that can’t help but put a smile on your face, right? Unfortunately, I happened to land on the episode where Sam decides to quit his bartending duties and become the full-time manager/promoter at Cheers. He hires another bartender, Ken, to help Woody out pouring drinks. After just a couple of weeks, it becomes very clear that the management thing wasn’t really working and Sam belonged back behind the bar. Though he feels bad about it, he knows Ken needs to be fired because there’s not enough work (or payroll money) for three bartenders. He’s all set to do it when Ken’s wife arrives with – of course! – their two small children.
Though Woody had become a beloved fixture at Cheers over the past several months (or years?), a good friend, and an excellent bartender, Sam took one look at those kids and immediately decided that the “right thing to do” was let Woody go because he didn’t have a family to support. The episode wrapped up neatly, as they always do, with Ken being offered a better job elsewhere and Woody coming back with a nice raise, but the message left me with a sour taste in my mouth. It seemed to suggest that those of us without children are somewhat expendable. That we’re better equipped to handle life’s hard knocks because it’s just “us”. And that when the going gets tough, those with a family are going to be given preferential treatment.
I’m not saying that I don’t understand Sam’s actions. When I was in HR and we had to do cutbacks, the person I remember most vividly was the one who’d just bought a house for his family and now had no idea how he was going to make his payments. Should he have been given special consideration over his peers who were still renting, or didn’t have children? Of course not. Did it make it any easier to watch, or sleep that night? No.
So I get it, I really do. But it was just another reminder of where those of us without children fall in the rankings when important decisions need to be made. And that, my friends, is a very scary notion in these difficult economic times.
Maybe Lady Liz is blogging her way through the decision of whether to create her own Cheerio-encrusted ankle-biters, or remain Childfree. You can follow her through the ups and downs at http://www.MaybeBabyMaybeNot.com.