Two Kinds of Women in the World –Yellow Sticky Ones and Slinkers

Article and Illustration by Alisa Singer

This essay comes with a moral message, so if you hate that sort of thing you can stop reading now. The message is to encourage tolerance and acceptance of people who are not blessed with certain natural gifts others may enjoy. In this case I refer to the gift of a generous, considerate, self-sacrificing nature.

Here’s the scene:

Someone at your company needs to volunteer to be a fire monitor. That means staying behind during fire drills to put little yellow stickies on office doors to show the firemen that nobody’s inside. (Presumably there’s also a counterpart to this involving staying behind in the event of a real emergency, but I’m not sure if stickies are involved.) So who are you in this scenario – the woman who obligingly raises her hand to volunteer or the one who immediately slinks down lower in her chair in an effort to disappear? We each know ourselves and I can tell you that, in the event of any kind of “sticky” occasion, you can count on me – I’m the slinker. As I say this I can almost feel the disdain rising in your gorge. Yes, I confess to be a slinker, a slacker, a shirker, and a shrinker from any kind of voluntary sacrifice, effort or inconvenience, and there are many others of my breed out there.

Perhaps you, on the other hand, are more of a yellow sticky woman. By that I mean the kind of woman that not only offers to be fire monitor, but also: takes in friends’ furniture-chewing dogs when they go on vacation, helps them move and calls to find out if their kids are feeling better; organizes baby showers for co-workers and remembers to bring the extra food from the board meeting to the lunchroom for the staff to enjoy; wipes the sinks in public bathrooms after washing her hands, even when nobody is looking;; gives blood, even when nobody in her family is planning surgery; sends packages to soldiers; remembers other people’s anniversaries; recycles vigilantly and sometimes even has compost piles in her backyard (whatever those are). The point is, she is a good citizen. If, as we always hear, there are two kinds of people in the world – the givers and the takers – she’s a giver, and the world applauds her for it. While I don’t begrudge her any of these accolades, I’m not sure awards are really in order. I mean when we’re dealing with the nature of the individual, morality is rather beside the point, isn’t it?

Take me, for example. It’s not my fault that I appear to be lacking the genes that would allow me to spend my vacation building low income housing in a third world country. I could no more do that than I could grow a tail. And for all I know, the yellow sticky lady’s need to chaperone mobs of unruly second graders on field trips to boring museums is as much of an irresistible impulse for her as my need to avoid same.

And let’s not forget that we takers serve a critical role in maintaining the balance and yin/yang of the universe. After all, takers create the underlying need for givers. Just imagine a world without us – all those virtuous givers looking frantically at each other – “Can’t I do something for you?” Eventually these selfless souls would become extinct, driven by some lemming-like instinct to fling themselves over cliffs for lack of enough selfish, demanding people to receive their offerings.