A Simple Look at a Not-So-Simple Life


I spend a little time most weeks working in my Panera “office.” It’s a boost to my productivity to be in a different place with people around, yet people I’m not required to interact with as part of my work. This morning, four men in shorts and jeans have gathered around the round table beside me, conducting some kind of business meeting. I haven’t figured out exactly what technology-related business they are in, but they are quite serious about their work together.

I’ve been working away on a newsletter article, for the most part ignoring their conversation, but a few minutes ago their voices broke into my consciousness. One man just said, “I gave up a $190,000 salary because I was missing out on time with my kids. The money was great, but it wasn’t the most important thing. I want to work with you, but I want to work in an environment that allows me the flexibility to be a real father to my kids.” He is bargaining for a flex-time, work-from-home schedule with this contract. He wants 40 hours a week. (Not the macho 60/90/100 hours so many like to brag about working.) He wants to work from home. He has a minimum salary he is willing to work for, and he is dealing hard to get it.


I am impressed.

If you listen to the media, you will be bombarded with news about the gender wars: men vs women, women vs women, professional mom vs stay-at-home mom. Women tend to be the ones portrayed as having to scramble to make the parent/professional balance work. It is refreshing to be reminded that the media isn’t always right. Men fight this fight too sometimes. This dad wants to be a parent and a professional, a hands-on dad and a provider for his family, even if it means he doesn’t pull in a salary that comes complete with bragging rights. He is scrambling hard to get it.

I really hope he does.


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10 thoughts on “Overheard…

  1. Mindy on said:

    I hope he gets it too. That is so nice to hear.

  2. Ha. I have a Panera office, too. Wonder if we can get a deal on “rent”? I think men should spend more time fighting for flex time… because men still drive corporate culture. Speaking of overhearing people in Panera, when I was working on my book months ago, an older couple walked up to me and told me I had been their entertainment for the past half hour. I was apparently making all kinds of animated faces as I was working on a scene.

    • Now I’ve made fun of my sister-in-law for the way she talks with her hands, but never considered teasing someone for writing with their facial expressions! That’s pretty funny! (Mental note to self: try to remember to pay attention to expressions when writing in public places.)

      I agree that men still lead the way in corporate culture. I hope that more men will follow this route, therefore maybe making it friendlier to women trying to do the same.

  3. mareyeka on said:

    great post. So nice to read stuff like this. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I am so rooting for this guy. Angie has a great point above…men need to fight for flex time, too. Even today, they are still the drivers of corporate culture and it can be an unfriendly place for someone (male or female) who prioritizes family over work.

    • He was handling himself very well. I wanted to high-five him before I left, but thought that might be a little over-the-top since I had to leave before their meeting was over. People like this can make a difference for us all.

  5. barbfreda on said:

    Wish we could have a follow up eavesdrop!

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