Single People Not Immune to Human Needs and Wants

By
Photo: Istockphoto

This morning's Wall Street Journal contains a piece with the remarkable discovery that unmarried human beings, much like their married counterparts, prefer to have lives outside the office that occasionally require the completion of certain quotidian tasks, like grocery shopping. The piece further finds that twelve-hour workdays make exploring this preference and these obligations difficult. Who knew? Tell us more!

Without a partner to help, singles must "get the laundry done, get to the gym, buy groceries and get to the job," plus plan social activities or volunteer work and sometimes care for aging relatives, too.

"No one is focusing attention on those women or men, who are achieving such great levels in their careers, all alone," Ms. Langburt says.

It strikes us that Ms. Langburt is achieving "great levels" in subtle condescension all alone, but: Moving right along! The Journal offers up a few illustrative tales of single people who have found it difficult to juggle both work and being all alone. There are the success stories, like a 36-year-old lawyer who, having quit her big-firm job, is now able to take occasional bike rides, or the 31-year-old guy who formerly ate ramen noodles because his ad-sales job left him with no time to cook. (This sad ramen-noodle factoid is highlighted more in the story than his ruined marriage, which he also pegs to the demanding job.) Now that he works for an "exotic-game website" (?), he is able cook unexotic game in his home, like braised ribs.

However, the worst horror story of all comes from a 29-year-old website editor in Brooklyn. "She recently dined on beans and rice for a week because she couldn't make it to her neighborhood grocery store before it closed at 8 p.m."

Okay. Here's the thing. We have a whole lot of empathy for people who work really hard at their job and sometimes let other things slide and are sick of that. But this particular anecdote does not elicit sympathy. There are plenty of reasons why someone might eat rice and beans for a week straight, including, but not limited to, constrained resources and dietary restrictions, but being unable to procure anything else — in New York City, in 2o12 —  is not a good reason. THERE ARE 800 MILLION FOOD OPTIONS OPEN IN NEW YORK PAST 8 P.M. 

You can go to a grocery near your office before getting on the train and buy nonperishable items. You can get something at your bodega, which surely is open until midnight; maybe not fresh produce, but there is surely something healthy and easily prepared there that will offer a change of pace. (May we suggest scrambled eggs and sriracha?)  You can order delivery. You don't even have to press the buttons on your phone and talk to an actual person, just click like three things on your computer that you're cradling on your lap while blankly watching television. Even if it makes you feel like a stereotype of a harried single working person, so what? You are a harried single working person, as you have just complained in print to a national newspaper. There are whole industries in this city built around catering to people like you! Arguably, the WHOLE CITY is catering to people like you!