Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Schlub

Not <i>that</i> kind of schlub—a New York Schlub: our subspecies of 30-something men working it just hard enough

The Pew report punted on a reason for the discrepancies, though floated a few possibilities. There are more men out there applying for jobs. Women just can’t hold jobs as well as men in a variety of fields for a variety of reasons. Men have more flexibility than women in accepting jobs. The suggestions were the usual suspects, set against economic calamity.

Pundits took the report as a chance to pound out the words “hecovery” and “mancession”—as in a “hecovery is under way from the mancession” (we get paid for this). Annie Lowrey broke in a different direction.

In a July 11 column for Slate, the economics writer cited the Pew report, including the important caveat that men suffered more than women during the recession (thus “mancession”). “[T]he picture remains worrying for women, who continue to lose jobs even as the economy slowly, very slowly, gets better.” She then wrote that she hoped for a “shecovery” to accompany the “hecovery” soon. Neologisms abound!

I called Ms. Lowrey in her D.C. office a few days after the column. We talked about the Pew report and its mere theories for why men are coming out of the recession more strongly than women. We also talked about the dearth of data, really, on all this: men, women, hiring, firing, the recession—there has not been an economic calamity remotely comparable to the current one since the 1930s. There are few apples in American history to set against our current bushel.

“What was weird,” Ms. Lowrey said, citing the Pew report, “was not that men were just gaining in sectors where they normally have a lot of jobs, like finance, like construction. They were kind of taking a bigger share of jobs across all sectors; and there’s not a lot to explain that. It seems like employers are just choosing to hire men.”

Ah-hah! And after they do? I called Emily McCombs, the managing editor of xoJane.com, the Jane Pratt vehicle “where,” it explains, “women go when they are being selfish, and where their selfishness is applauded.” What did she think of the Pew report and my theory?

“Gender undoubtedly plays a role in hiring and firing, and what sector you’re likely to be working in in the first place, which is not really a surprise to anyone,” Ms. McCombs said. “Certainly, when you get to a management level you can sort of kick back in that way, and I think it’s pretty well-documented that there are more men on that level than women.”

Get to that level then, men, and quickly. It’s not a bad thing, not at all. It is to be aspired to, something to work toward. Schlub life, with its desultory blips of flair amid a genial coasting, will make you the envy of your pals and your women. Who would not want to be Adam Rapoport or Jay Fielden, their respective 41 years splayed across Times Style profiles that fawned over their natty wardrobes, ambrosial cuisine and desirable real estate? Or any of the duditors, all gelled, French-cuffed and jauntily secure in their jobs?

As for Mr. Jeter, he batted a media-softball-league-worthy .176 in the week after going 5-for-5 against the Rays (he also skipped the All-Star Game, angering fans who voted him in). Does it matter? Nah. He spent the past 15 years killing it. And then he had that salubrious 3,000th. And the Yankees, besides, have settled into that familiar autumnal pennant sprint with Boston—a city that, much like our kind of schlub, continues to trade on its most consequential days, way, way back when: “Take the T to where the Declaration of Independence was first read!”

tacitelli@observer.com  ::  Follow on Twitter @tacitelli


Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Schlub