Thursday, December 2, 2010

Working From Home

I've never been much for computer games, but one day I decided to pick up a copy of The Sims. On a Saturday afternoon I installed it and gave it a try. I built some little sim houses then started adding sim characters, learning how to customize the appearance and personalities of each one. Just for fun I made a Sim Pac and a Sim Jumping Bean and set them free in their swanky sim casa. As I watched the game unfold, I could see Sim JB getting increasingly frustrated as he cleaned up behind Sim Pac. For his part, Sim Pac alternated between sitting at the computer, watching TV and eating. There was something about that little storm cloud over Sim JB's head that seemed so realistic, so... familiar. I cautiously lifted my eyes from the game to see the real JB, swiffer duster in hand, glaring at me. I never felt the need to play Sims -- or any other computer game -- since.

I mention this because occasionally my job allows me to work from home. I don't usually like working from home because I'm way too easily distracted. Lingering household projects and chores which blithely languish all weekend suddenly start itching my brain when I'm sitting at my computer at 2:30 on a Wednesday afternoon. And the television calls my name. "Pac... Pac... Daytime television is quality television. Turn me on, Pac. You're perfectly justified catching a little CNBC. My random TiVo suggestions will take it from there."

It's even worse when JB is home. JB is a fight attendant and it seems like he's home a lot. But whether he's at home or away on a trip, he's always busy, always doing something. The idea that productive work could be accomplished while sitting passively at a computer, fingers barely moving, just doesn't register with him. Individually he understands the words "knowledge" and "worker". He just can't put them together. More than once I found myself trying to write code over the noise of the vacuum cleaner, finally giving up when the Dyson starts slamming repeatedly into the back of my chair. It's passive-aggressive way of telling me "one person here is accomplishing useful work while the other is not". To JB, computers are for wasting time on Facebook, playing stupid simulation games and the occasional wank.

And to him, Pac at work looks exactly like Pac at play.

That's why I like to make that distinction perfectly clear for him by getting the hell out of the house each weekday morning. Then at the end of the day I can come home feigning exhaustion and flop dramatically on the couch with a beer in one hand and remote control in the other. If I make a good enough show of it, he may even bring the beer and remote to me. There's just no way that would ever happen if JB actually saw me "working". Nope. He'd point me directly to the baskets of unfolded laundry still hot from the dryer or put a toilet brush in my hand and send me scrubbing.

Fortunately, JB was out of the house when I worked from home today. That gave me the peace and quiet I needed to productively enjoy this...

How did I miss this theatrical release? God bless you BET! Sticky Fingaz perfectly
reprises the Jennifer Anniston role for 1/250th of the cost, with the savings directly
creating even more jobs for little people.

And learning important facts like this...

I heard about the Sally Hemings thing, but
that's just damn freaky.



  1. I do like that your computer is from 1998, it's like a Gateway or something. Oh... the image isn't you... there's no chicken on its head.

  2. Don't be dissing my 386. Do you know how hard it is to get floppies for that thing? Or to fit anything on a floppy? I actually was fond if the Ikea furnishings in that pic.

    And are you making a reference to my haircut? :-)

  3. I tried working from home for a while. I found that I was ever so much more productive when I didn't have to drive across town by 8:00 am, and didn't have people interrupting me all day.

  4. I'm working from home right now. (At 2:12 am, sigh.) I agree it's all about being in the environment most conducive to your own work style. But I find it helps me to have a mental separator between work life and home life, lest they mix inappropriately. Even if that separator is the ritual of the commute and the totally separate environments.

    If I had to work from home on a regular basis, I'd have to come up with a different ritual. Probably involving padlocks and signs on the door of my guest-room-slash-home-office. And maybe one of those old-timey intercoms for when JB wants to ask how to print something or where he set his reading glasses.

    "Bzzz. There's a mister Jumping Bean to see you Sir?"

    "Send him away. I'm busy."