Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Contingency Plans

This may not, on the surface, seem directly related to the subject of bitchcraft but stay with me because I do have a larger point. And because I’m sitting in New York in the midst of a transit strike which means I’ll be walking 100 blocks to work in 30 degree weather and don’t really know how I’ll get home again.

Mayor Bloomberg has come up with what he calls a contingency plan for commuters. For the most part, it entails carpooling, walking and riding your bike. This isn’t such a bad plan. Though many city residents don’t own cars, it’s a cold day but sunny, and most of us could benefit from some brisk fresh air. But really it only works for the 9 to 5 crowd.

For example, when I get off work at nine p.m. tonight it will be dark and it will be cold and there are a few “sketchy after nightfall” blocks between there and here. I can’t walk home. And there’s a whole night economy - waitstaff, maintenance workers, musicians, actors, anyone employed at a restaurant, club, or movie theater - that will emerge into the city at nine or midnight or four a.m. needing a way home. Most of them depend on mass transit because they fall into that financial category for which hopping a cab (presuming you can find one) to the outer reaches where most of them live isn’t an option. Add to this the fact that plenty of these after dark workers are paid by the hour and can’t afford to just not show up, nor can they work from home. The city’s contingency plan has left a good portion of those people who rely on mass transit literally out in the cold.

So here’s where I get to the women part. I see this as just one example of a larger problem: a society that never looks beyond a 9 to 5 working world, despite that fact that much of its population lives, breathes and struggles like hell there. For those who don’t hold typical day jobs, it’s near impossible to get loans, apartments, insurance, and the list goes on. And women – because we’re poorer, shoulder heavier family responsibilities, and are more likely to work odd hours – often wind up the prime residents of this fringe world. Without some help from the higher ups, without a few contingency plans that take us into account, we’re going to wind up shattering to a gazillion pieces.

And men, god bless them, are not know for their skills with cleaning up a mess.

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