Singled Out

In Uncategorized on October 19, 2006 at 5:36 am

Life as a single girl is tough. Even when you’re in a relationship. And that is because the world wouldn’t acknowledge your commitment to your significant other when there’s no symbol to confirm it (a.k.a wedding ring).

I can live with that.

But I’m not talking about relationships here. I’m talking about the perception of being ‘single’ in the professional life. In Indonesia, they just LOVE to hire single people for two reasons:

1. Lower pay
2. Exploitable 24/7

Yes. Single people are often perceived as people with almost zero responsibility other than having to pay for their cell phone bills and credit cards. In Jakarta it’s worse. Due to the Indonesian custom of living with one’s parents until one’s married, one would be seen as the burden rather than the provider.

I envy my foreigner friends, those characters in American TV shows and my Bandung friends who now work in Jakarta. The foreigners and my Bandung friends obviously have the reason to live alone. Those characters in American TV shows are kicked out from their parents’ houses when they turn 18. While me and many (I daresay) Jakartans before me, had to find a bunch of excuses to live out of the house and actually BE independent.

Out of 10 Jakartans who presented the idea of braving it alone to their parents, only 3 suceeded and that’s because they applied for jobs way in the South while their parents’ houses are up in the North.

I began to change my views. I have to show ‘independence’ in another way. If I can’t be that single girl cliche who has her own place, I can be the other. I could take over the household. I could pay for stuff. Besides, I’m already a grown up.

Sadly, this version of being ‘responsible’ isn’t recognized at all in the public eye. Again in Indonesia, if you’re single, you’re still Daddy’s girl who gets allowance every month. The public is mean. They don’t care if your parents had retired and they just laugh when you say stuff like: “Dang, my electricity bill is skyrocketing this month”… because they don’t see that you’re for real.

So you strive for people to take you a bit seriously. You performed on your jobs, you work on weekends, you stay up late doing stuff that can be done the next day just so you stay ahead of your work. You began to befriend the right people, with the hope to steal their knowledge in order to make you perform better at work. You began to ditch your friends and family for “work”.

The next thing you know, you’re married. To your job.

All in the name of wanting to be taken seriously.

So anyway, during your struggle in the job, you’ll see people who arrive late for work and don’t display any guilt whatsoever in their faces. When asked about the cause of their tardiness, these people will answer with their signature puppy-dog eyes:

“I had to take my son to the doctor this morning. He’s having the worst cold…” or,
“My husband’s sister was having a baby. I had to take care of her…”

… and thousands of other excuses that involve either their husbands, wives, children, in-laws et cetera.

The most incredible thing is: the so-called “corporate” which “won’t take any excuse for tardiness” suddenly melted down and empathically smile to these people… and began to chat about their husbands, wives, children, in-laws et cetera.

What happens to single people when they are late for work? Can we pull this droopy puppy-dog eye and recite our excuses such as:

“Well I had to take my car to the carwash. It’s been ages since it’s washed because I’ve been working late and I hate people seeing me in a dirty dirty car” or,
“I had to go to the cleaners. I need my XSML dress dry-cleaned for a party tonight”

Just because we don’t have any husbands, wives, childrens, in-laws etcetera?

Our bosses will just throw a dirty look in our eyes, if not straightforwardly filed a report on our “behavior”.

How terribly unfair.

I’ve grown quite a huge amount of hatred to married working Jakartans. Probably because I’ve had so many encounters with ones who hides behind their so-called “commitment” to get out of work and to have things done THEIR way. That’s why I was a bit surprised to find some who are actually equally committed to their work AND family. And it’s a pleasant surprise indeed.

But still, it doesn’t change single people’s bad bad luck in doing their jobs. Single bosses, in particular. I’ve worked with single bosses before, and from my crude observation, the single boss can be either

1. The Boss From Hell
2. The Boss / Doormat

Number one is the kind of single who’d treat married and single employees as equals. No special treatments, no fuss. Usually not the favorite among those who likes to come in late and go home early due to “family reasons”. But works really well with people like me. Number two is the kind of single who’s too kind. Cause of kindness unknown, most probably the fear of being hated by employees.


I re-read my previous writings… and yes, it may seem like I hate married people. I don’t, because I want to get married eventually. And I will probably eat my words and use those lame excuses so I can play with my kids and be with my husband more often. It’s just that as long as I’m a single person in a relationship, with many responsibilities around my parents’ house, I’m really no different from those who are married.

You married people save to buy small houses in the suburbs, we pay to run a way too big house with way too much electricity.
You married people sign up for insurance for your kids, we sign up for insurance for our parents.
You married people take care of your spouse’s relatives, we take care of our relatives who think they can come anytime to us because we’re single and have no responsibilities.
You married people send your kids to expensive schools and complain that the tuitions are eating you alive, we start our own kid’s education insurance plan so we won’t have to complain as much as you in the future.
You married people prefer to stay home and play with your children on weekends, we prefer to stay home to sleep and rest so we can start fresh on Monday and not having to use lame excuses because we won’t be late for work.

Again, where’s the difference?

  1. it’s true, baby! people have responsibilities and they shouldn’t be hiding behind them. will we be hiding behind our commitments tho?

  2. when the time comes, we’ll find out. but i’d rather quit my job and be a freelance writer rather than annoying single people with my silly stupid excuses.

  3. ditto to all you wrote above! Had a similar experience on their preference to hiring single people. you see, before i landed in my current job, the boss of the bosses there ended my final interview with a question: “this is crucial, i’m aware that youre still single, but are you planning to get married in the near future?”. He gave me a broad happy smile when i said no, in a very firm tone. then he shook my hand (still smiling), telling me “congratulations, you’re hired!” hahaha. Thank God i dont have any married colleagues behaving unprofessionally with lame excuses..

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