Dear Etiquetteer: I am constantly confronted with co-workers who feel like they get a pass on helping with special events, working late, or covering shifts because they have family obligations (kids). Meanwhile, I (the only queer) become the default go-to person. In my mind, their kids, wives, etc., are not my problem and irrelevant. Their lives are no more important than mine. Whether I go home to a house full of kids or a bar full of fun friends or some late night tricks, it is of no concern.
My question is, how do you tactfully express that? Having a big diva tantrum isn't going to help the situation, but the breeders need to know that my life is just as important as theirs and we all need to either take turns or as a group cover the undesirable hours.
Dear Working Girlfriend:
First, let's cast this question in such a way that it's free of sexual orientation. Gay parents are far from unheard of in the workplace, and so are single straight people. And considering the after-work activities you mention, Etiquetteer is obliged to point out that licentiousness knows no distinctions.
Assuming that these special events and other shifts are scheduled in advance, Etiquetteer recommends that you make yourself unavailable first, before your other colleagues do. No need to say why (and in fact, it would be none of their business), but set an expectation that you are not automatically free to be the default cover. When Entitled Mommy or Entitled Daddy respond, "But I can't that night! I always have to pick up Precious Snowflake at day care" or something, apologize and say you're still not available and that your plans are unbreakable. Refrain from getting on edge with a snappy comeback like "Too bad, I have a [Insert Profane Expletive Here] life, too!" Professional colleagues always have knives.
Data becomes your best back-up in such situations. When you can point out that, of an office of six people you've been responsible for over 75% of overtime coverage, everyone must recognize that a more equitable solution is needed.
You need to speak with your supervisor about availability, specifically that yours is NOT determined by the fact that you don't have family waiting at home. Ultimately these after-hours assignments are his or her responsibility and if further advance scheduling is needed to assure that coverage is fair, so be it.
Etiquetteer has a new e-mail address for all your questions about Perfect Propriety, queries_at_etiquetteer_dot_com. Etiquetteer hopes to hear from you soon!