Are you going to have children?

…it is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace. That is unacceptable.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand

This, when she was asked whether or not she intended to have children.

It’s the Neanderthal in me but I make no apologies. It’s WOKE to say businesses have no right to ask women if they plan to have children. But here’s the reality of it.

My colleague had a baby last December. She took off from December through April, all while drawing partial salary. She came back in May, waited ten days, collected her annual bonus and promptly quit. She had no intention of ever coming back, just stuffing her pockets with money and running. They held her position and we absorbed all her duties in the interim, which was a big, fat, drag. She screwed the company and her colleagues over pretty thoroughly.

My bride did the same thing. She took three months’ maternity leave and resigned the day it expired. I had a fit. It’s perfectly legal but it shows a moral bankruptcy. I just had dinner with a friend who manages a team of lawyers. He said one of his charges is up front about it. She’s going to get pregnant, take her full maternity leave and then quit to be a full-time mommy.

Spare me any lectures about what’s acceptable to ask unless you’ve been on the receiving end of the new mommy whip.

It’s entirely her business,”
Ex-Prime Minister Bill English

No, it isn’t. Nobody is entitled to extort money from a company and double their colleague’s workload. If you plan on returning, fine. But if you have no intention, do the honorable thing.


We spent Father’s Day at the racetrack. I taught my 11-year old how to box a trifecta. It’s a useful skill. She already knows to stand on 16 if the dealer is showing a 2-6. Soon it’ll be time to show her the sucker bets on a craps table.

Sports betting is now legal in New Jersey and the track has a sports book. Do you know what a cooler is? A cooler is a mythical figure employed by casinos to throw water on a hot game. Their bad luck is so pervasive that casino management sends them over to sit at a table if the house starts losing too much money. I’m kind of a cooler when it comes to sports betting. I can tank a team’s entire season with one bet.

I put $10 on the Yankees to win the World Series. I hate the Yankees and always have. As of today, they’re one of, if not the, most powerful teams in baseball. But with my Dementor’s kiss, they’ll be lucky if they make the playoffs. Play ball.


An unusual perspective of the Flatiron building. The offices in the point have irregular spaces that aren’t very workable. This is my bride’s favorite building from an architectural standpoint. I like it, too.

Chelsea graffiti.


Pablo Picasso
Le Repos (Marie-Thérèse)
Oil on canvas, 1932
Est: $10,000,000-15,000,000
Sold for $11,562,500

I post a lot of jokey art so I thought I’d post something I admire for a change. $11.5M can be put to better use but this has a beautiful simplicity and gentle flow to it. The red and green play off of each other nicely. She was Picasso’s secret lover.


The boredom of Alice.

54 thoughts on “Are you going to have children?

  1. So, I think you’re fingering why this nation seriously requires a single-payer health system. Remove maternity leave compensation from the employer’s responsibility and include it as part of a component of standard health care. The Swedes have a policy for maternity AND paternity. I believe its 11 months each and it can be taken anyway they wish. All that aside, can you imagine how *horrible* that job has to be for that person to merely exploit the system? Sure, it might not be honorable, but I understand from where the desire flows.

    Where’s Ernie’s Areola?

    • I support maternity leave AND paternity leave. We have it here where I work (although not 11 months worth. Yikes!). What I have a problem with is this intentional pocketing of money when they know they’re not coming back. How is that any different from outright theft?

      Ernie’s areola is present. Try clicking on the pic. What about the Flatiron? You like or not so much?

      • I just saw Bert! Unless yer sayin what I think you sayin’….Bert is Ernie’s man and therefore its *his* areola!

        The rest of the developed nations (and some less developed) have better policies for families. The US is about extraction of maximum potential from an individual at any cost to that individual’s health and stability. On paper it may be legalized theft. In life, its just a feeble attempt at balancing the scale…

        Flatiron: Its certainly a lovely building that rewards the public realm with its presence. It’s shape is not, however, what makes it unique (there are many flatirons around: It’s a landmark for high-rise construction and structure. I think it was, like, the second high rise in Manhattan or something…so its the elder statesman! All that said, as a though experiment, I’d love to draw an association for a moment with the VIA 57 West apartment building on the Hudson. While the flatiron’s geometry was about the constraints of the street grid while striving to maximize leasable floor area, the VIA is also maximizing the same floor area for the highest dollar by ensuring great views for the maximum number of apartments. The shape of the building, in essence, is reflection of the same constraints, but this time, its the view shed, not the city grid, that is dictating the geometry. Dunno. Sound plausible, despite the buildings looking ENTIRELY different?

      • Via 57 is a lovely building. It benefits by being on the edge of Manhattan. The Flatiron had the constraint of being smack dab in the middle. Via 57 received favorable reviews for the exterior but I read a couple that said the interiors are a bit bland. It’s irrelevant to me, as I doubt I’ll ever see the inside. Are the Danish not the best architects?

      • Yea…I’ve seen a photos of that courtyard from within and I thought, “yikes, that’s pretty intense.” But you really need to be IN the space to cast judgement. Not all buildings are like that…you can tell their terrible through the screen. Bjarke learned all he knows from our modern day Le Corbusier, Rem Koolhaas. Bjarke is good, but lots of one-liners and extremely developer friendly. He’s relatively young (42-ish?), so is like to see where he goes in the next 15 years. Architects hit their stride around 50…or later.

        Danes are certainly talented. But my money is on the Swiss (Herzog & deMueron, Peter Zumthor, etc). I also find the Chileans doing lovely things lately. I’m most interested in where Ensemble Studio from Spain go. Check out their sculptures at Tippet Rise in Montana and the Cervantes Theater canopy in Mexico City.

      • The Ensemble Studio pieces are great! Especially Tippet Rise. They remind me of two clam shells. And I like big. Have you been inside the Oculus at the WTC Path station? I think the roof is leaking. I’m taking the fam to Mass MoCA in August for the James Turrell installations. I don’t think any of them want to go but tough titty. They’re going.

  2. Everybody’s gaming the system. The ones who get me are the ones who go on burnout. Their jobs are so tough, they get a doctor to say they need to go on leave for 6 months. Where do they find these doctors! I want one!

  3. I worked with a temp once. She waited until the company offered her a permanent position before telling them she was pregnant, and she didn’t intend on hanging around after the birth either. I was kind of impressed. I don’t think I’d have had the nerve. I was also a temp at the time…. I think I might have felt differently about it had I been permanent.

  4. Like Ross says, we have “burn out” leave. It can be repeatedly renewed or even become more or less permanent, depending on your agreement and your province. I know of someone who has been on it for about ten years. 60% pay. Same can happen with medical leave. Most moms I know haven’t done what you’re describing though. Because the leave/benefits can be so good, they don’t often quit, especially as dads are included. It was pretty good when I had my kids, but it’s a lot better now.

    • 60% salary for ten years?! Without showing up for work?! How is that not a scam? How is that funded? What I’m referring to here in the US and, especially it seems, the NYC area are women who can afford to stay home because their husbands fund their dream of motherhood, but they’re going to squeeze that last bit of money out of their employer. It happens here often.

      • Yup. It often is – long term disability can be a real bolthole for those who don’t want to work. Some people ARE legitimately ill, though. Injured on the job, in an accident while travelling for work, etc. I have wondered occasionally how much of it is real.

  5. The Flatiron building is just fascinating. After carefully looking at the photo of the building you posted for a while, I can’t tell if it’s a triangle looking building or it seems like that because of the angle of the photo.

    • Hey, you’re new! Thanks for stopping by. The flatiron *IS* in fact a triangle building. Google it for a less obtuse image. I just took that because it’s at an unusual angle. Most folks take it at a bit of a distance so you can see its shape. I just think it’s kind of cool to see it without the surrounding buildings in view. I’d love to go inside one day but I think it’d require getting a job there.

  6. Every time society succeeds in making reasonable provision for health, maternity, you name it, there are always those who decide to scam it for all it is worth.
    When I was working in the U.K. the equality legislation was passed…it is now a legal minefield when interviewing candidates for a job…….
    I enjoyed the Picasso.

    • My problem is that it goes on ALL THE TIME. It’s an accepted practice and small cogs in the wheel like me are the ones who always pay. And I’m not a corporate shill but it’s the wrong thing to do to a company, who are just trying to be humane.

      • I agree wholeheartedly. It makes me wild to think how hard it was to get the appropriate legislation through only to see it misused by chancers while their colleagues pick up the slack.

  7. Where there’s free money to be had, people will take it.

    I don’t see why it’s not OK to ask a woman if she is going to have children. Why do we have to watch every single thing we say these days?

    I like the flat iron building too and I probably like it more because it is called so.

    Bert’s tit. Hmm. I wonder what was going through the mind of that particular artist.

    Like the Picasso. Empathising with kitty boredom.

    • I would like free money. That’s why I go to the track and casinos. Sometimes, they hand out free money. Women are HIGHLY insulted if you ask that. They feel they’re being pigeonholed. But there’s a right to know. Kitties are always bored. Nothing much can excite them. Dogs, on the other hand, are easily amused.

  8. In my experience, I’ve been responsible for hiring and training new team members while also achieving payroll expectations. It’s incredibly frustrating from a leadership perspective to invest the time, money, and energy in preparing someone to contribute only to have them become unavailable shortly thereafter. And then of course there is always the question of whether they will actually return, regardless of whether they say they will. I’m a married man with two kids, so I get the family perspective too. But I work for a company that is very reasonable, fair, and honest with its employees, and it really burns me when when people take advantage, or ‘game’ the system. Its selfish, and it has negative repercussions for others. That payroll expense is keeping other people from getting hired, forcing more work on others, and increasing costs for everyone.

    • I suspected my colleague wasn’t coming back but didn’t want to believe it. We went through quite a lot to keep up with the workload and, in the end, actually lost the headcount when she announced her resignation. So she put us in a terrible bind and did it for the worst reason. If she’d left in December, as she SHOULD HAVE, they might have added her compensation back in the bonus pool.

  9. Yes, a thorny question.I think it all comes down to honesty and fairness. To me, it seems your colleague hated her job and her workmates.She just put up with you in order to take the money.Rude and dishonest.
    But…if I can take you back.(Probably can’t-you weren’t born then!), women in the workforce got a rough run when it came to money. Quite apart from being paid less for doing the same work as men, we were considered a very bad risk for loans, on the grounds that “we might get married and have children and be unable to make our repayments.”
    Yes, it makes me mad that many people exploit the system.It seems to me that employing a temp to cover the leave is a far better method. That woman must have been doing a damn’ good job ON HER OWN if the rest of her colleagues struggled to cover her job!

    Yes, I like the Flat Iron, too.
    The cat? you know my stance on that 😉

    • I don’t think it’s fair to say she hated her job and her colleagues. We all got along quite well. In the end, she doesn’t want to work. She wants to be a full time mom and there’s nothing wrong with that. My problem is her extortion before her departure. It’s classless and shockingly common.

      Tragically, women are STILL being paid less than men for the same work. But real progress is being made. She was afforded months maternity leave and we even have paternity leave.

      Meow. Alice says hello.

  10. The problem is the system, if men and women were treated absolutely equally (full paternity as well as maternity), and the state did what a state is meant to – level the playing field by using taxes, rather than using taxes to make war and keep the rich rich – so that companies could hire a temp while the woman, or man – we need to support more dads who want to stay at home – was making up his/her mind, none of this would be a problem. To me a system where everyone has to work long hours, regardless of what they’re good at, in order to meet their basic needs is wrong, and unnecessary. And we forget, or choose to ignore, that having children is doing a great social service, if people didn’t have kids the human race would die out (though it’s moot whether that could be a good thing!), so if we want to keep the species going we need to stop marginalising women, and, thus, discriminating against men too, and find a solution to this problem. (Apologies for the clumsy sentences).

    I love that you have a cat called Alice!

    Your perspective on the Flatiron building is great.

    • Things are improving and, for the sake of my daughters, I hope this all gets sorted out before they enter the workforce. My company is an excellent example. They are very good to their employees, which is why it irks me so to see them taken advantage of. I hate to resort to cheap clichés but two wrongs don’t make a right. Interesting observation about the social service. Countries like Japan and even China are suffering from low birth rates.

      Our other cat is Oliver. I think cats should have people names. Mine always have.

  11. Nice mash-up, very “Exile.” Complete with the classic Flatiron, which you’ve shown before (and I, too love). I don’t have any opinion on the pregnant at work thing. I haven’t been burned like that; I think it’s unfortunate some people do game it because they feel entitled or cheated by the system. Hard to get in the middle of that, buy glad you put your tit out there to show how you feel about it! Ha!

    • ALL my posts are a mash-up. My attention span is so thin that I don’t think I could bang out 700 words on just one subject. I think I’d be dull. And burned is a good way to put it. My other colleagues and I all feel we’ve been taken for a ride. I’ve used pics of the Flatiron in the past but none from that angle. It’s usually from a few blocks away to give a better perspective of its…I don’t know…flatironness.

  12. Moral bankruptcy? you’re kidding right? a company will dump your ass so fast it will make your head spin for no other reason than improving the dividend and you think what these women are doing is morally bankrupt? I watched my old man work 60 plus hour weeks for months implementing a new accounting system only to be sacked as soon as he was finished so maybe i have a different view of this but i will wholeheartedly disagree. Those women earning 77 cents to each dollar a man makes are perfectly within their right, there’s a reason it’s called human resources these days and not personnel because the corporate oligarchs could give a flying fuck if you or your kids have food and shelter, as long as the board and shareholders have a leer jet though it’s cool. Relative wages have been stagnant for years for us lumpen-proles while the oligarchs demand more and more and want to give less and less. It’s the reason we’re the laughing stock of the free world, we’re not free, we’re slaves who’ve been extended a line of fucking credit so the bankers can make sure they take everything when we die, besides once the “management” sees how they can run the department with one less person someones gonna be on the block anyway, i know it sucks when you’re on the receiving end of it, i’ve been there and i feel for the workers who pick up the workload but as for the companies, a middle finger and a flying V… i will step down off my soapbox now.

    Now back to the amiable and lovable kono… as you know, nothing beats the track, i love the ponies, i love crunching the numbers and listening to the gut, you’ve taught your daughter a most valuable lesson, the boxed bet, i’ve seen some big balloons on the exacta and tri box, now you need to explain the pick 4 and you’re set, lol!! of course all this means nothing as my son once picked the superfecta in the Derby a few years back based on names, i believe had $1 boxed those horses the return was somewhere in the low six figures, see what all that chart reading got me? nuffin. Now back to detox after 8 days in Jamaica…

    • btw, i’ve seen men do the same type of shit with STD/LTD, sometimes to accrue enough time to retire or get other benefits before shuffling off, so while i can understand the pregnancy thing, it cuts both ways and people play the “shit-stem” as Peter Tosh would say, that’s cuz the shit-stem uses people the same way, are there good companies out there? yes, but i’d say more could care less, however they can get it done and at the least cost, there’s a reason other countries have laws which regulate how much the CEO can make compared to the average worker, there’s also a reason we don’t have it here and if we did the oligarchs would find a way around it, like they do with paying taxes. Now i gotta go make tacos for the boyos, we have a b-ball game to get to, as usual good stuff my man.

      • And I don’t approve of state employees (to be specific, New Jersey state employees) accruing, literally, hundreds of thousands of dollars in “sick” time and then expecting the state to pony up when they cash in on retirement. The state coffers are going BANKRUPT because of unreasonable sweetheart like that made between unions and politicians who needed union votes. The math was never there but they just kicked the can down the road for someone else to handle. The most important thing to them was keeping that reserved parking spot in at the State House.

    • Well, that was lively. First of all, she didn’t just fuck the company over, she fucked US over. We had to perform all her duties in her absence. Had she been up front, we would’ve hired someone to replace her and save ourselves five months of grief. That we were going through this hell on account of her while she KNEW damn well she wasn’t coming back and didn’t give a whit about it because there was money to be had irks me just a little. And not all companies are Evil Entities. You paint with a broad brush, my friend. I work for one of the last (if not only) benevolent asset managers in New York They take care of their employees, sometimes to their financial detriment. The fact that she took advantage because it was easy pickins’ is a shame on her.

      My 16-year old was actually in a casino with me at a craps table once. I was giving her lesson #1 and it was great for a while until the boxman realized she was underage. They threw her the hell right out. I had to go with her which was a bummer because I was doing pretty okay.

      I thought folks went on vacation to detox? Not the other way around?

      • It’s not a broad brush but a realistic, cynical, and skeptical one, maybe it’s my natural opposition to authority, lol!! And i’m quite skeptical of any corporation/company taking care of their employees to their financial detriment, and wait, i’m reading that again, asset managers? egads!!! there’s no way they’re doing anything to their financial detriment but i can agree to disagree, i’ve always liked a good debate at the pub…

        I’m pretty sure i’ve mentioned that i was once gambling in a Vegas casino when i was 17, then did a few triple shots of Jack, heckled Redd Foxx and got tossed from his show, ended up semi-coherent in a casino pisser and woke up back in LA where i slept for the next day or so… oh the salad days of youth, where have you gone?

      • Heavy on the cynical. Light on the realistic. My company is benevolent. Our monthly deduction for healthcare is $0. That’s right. We don’t contribute a nickle towards our healthcare plan. Most folks fork out a couple of hundred per paycheck. My gig could definitely improve their bottom line by making us contribute but they don’t. They like us.

      • But you’ve just proved the point, lol, how many companies would do that? I’ve heard of one (yours). And you did say the Bride doesn’t read this right? cuz i believe you called her “morally bankrupt” in one of those paragraphs above, i’m just looking out for your home life sir, hell hath no fury like a woman called morally bankrupt.

      • My bride and I had a huge blowout when she did it. I didn’t sugarcoat my opinion just because we were married. Who does that?! I told her it was the wrong thing to do but she gave me the old ‘everyone does it.’ Hard to argue with logic like that.

  13. What very diversified spirited replies about benefits and corporations.
    I went to see and touch Flatiron personally. I tried to get in but the doors were locked. It would be cool to have a big desk in front of the apex window so you could spin your chair around and look out at Madison Square Park. I was puzzled with the cow catcher kiosk at ground level.
    Seriously, great Dad move by taking the daughter to the horse race track and showing her how things work. She will see another group of people who make this world go around.

    • There’s always a spirited discussion back here. I’m constantly amazed. I have a small readership but they’re vocal and they like to participate. How’d I get this lucky?!

      I’ve never been inside the Flatiron, either. Would love to see it. I’ve been inside the Woolworth building. It’s incredible. There are carved gargoyles with the faces of contemporary politicians and business leaders. It’s now a private residence. You can’t go inside anymore, which sucks.

      I love the track. It’s still a living Damon Runyon short story. It’s populated with a bunch of mugs.

  14. Instead of asking a woman whether she plans to have children, a company could probably just tell a new hire that they offer the maternity leave, but it’s only paid after the employee works for a couple years. (Assuming that’s legal in the state – as far as I know, federal law only requires that the job is protected).

    • That might not be a bad idea but I don’t think the ACLU would allow it. When I was in the Coast Guard I worked with a bunch of lawyers who had their entire law school education paid for but they had to commit to a few years of service upon graduation. It’s not unprecedented but I can’t imagine it working in the civilian sector.

      RUS spanks SPN = big upset action. Nobody saw that coming!

      • There’s no federally mandated paid maternity leave in the US, from what heard on the internet like a 1000 times. But as far as I know, the job has to be guaranteed if the mother comes back from the leave within a certain period. So ACLU probably has no federal case – but a state may have its own rules for the maternity leaves. Still, offering the bare required minimum to new hires and a more generous leave to those who have worked longer is surely legal.
        It’s not quite the same as your CG lawyers example, since there’s no commitment required – go on a leave 6 months into the job – the company is paying you just the required minimum, go on a leave after working 4 years, the company will pay you for 4 months, and so on.
        Yeah, that Russian upset of Spain in the World Cup was pretty unexpected, almost like the Russian upset in the 2016 US election.

      • Well, now that Russia’s World Cup dream has ended,the can focus on the upcoming midterm elections. The whole World Cup thing was a terrible distraction for them, anyway.

      • Nope, can’t say as I’ve done that. I quit working BEFORE I became pregnant the first time due to other medical issues…just backing away from a debate because that’s my go-to stance nowadays. Too much drama for this mama.

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