Every workday morning, DeBorah Palmer pulls on her navy blazer and starts her rounds. She is a security guard who patrols the galleries of a Manhattan museum and assists the visitors streaming through its doors.
But as she points the sightseers to this exhibit or that one, an urgent question inevitably pops into her mind: How is Stevie?
She means Stevie, who loves Iron Man, plain M&Ms and Popeye’s fried chicken. Stevie, who has a sweet inside basketball shot and a passion for dinosaurs. Stevie, who is a 54-year-old man with autism who cannot read a book or cross a street on his own.
Stevie Palmer is her beloved brother, her closest relative. He is intellectually disabled and counts on her to oversee his care at his group home in Queens. It is her personal mission to ensure that he has everything he needs.
Ms. Palmer, who lives in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, is grateful for her job. It has been her lifeline since she was laid off as a research manager for a nonprofit nine years ago. But she desperately misses the flexibility she once took for granted as a white-collar worker.
Her struggle to juggle work and family life is painfully familiar to many workers. A 2011 study conducted by the Families and Work Institute, a research group, found that higher-paid employees are significantly more likely than low-wage workers to be able to shift their starting and quitting times periodically.
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