Home office leaves much to be desired
I TOLD some friends I was taking a week off to do some work around the house, to which they responded, "A week off ... from what?"
When you work at home, you get that a lot. A lot of people think working at home is like a permanent vacation. It's not. Unless you consider it a vacation to have to walk by piles of laundry and sinks filled with dirty dishes just to get to your "office" -- a desk made of a discarded door resting on top of a couple of City Mill filing cabinets cleverly camouflaged by mountains of discarded newspapers. Club Med it ain't.
Now, you could say I should do the dishes, start the laundry and recycle the newspapers before going to "work," but my wife beat you to the punch there. She doesn't see me so much as a professional writer who works at home as a really bad live-in housekeeper. But what am I supposed to do? I mean, I start washing dishes during the day and pretty soon I'm vacuuming, washing the dog, solving world hunger and negotiating for peace in the Middle East. Where would it end?
I TEAR UP when I see those ads that gush "Work at home!" like it's nirvana. Yes, I'd like to work at home, but not this home. I'd like to work at a home that is clean, air-conditioned, with a refrigerator filled with something besides furry cottage cheese. I want to work at a home with furniture that doesn't conspire to collapse when you sit upon it, where the ice maker doesn't fire ice cubes across the kitchen like Hezbollah rockets and where the resident canine knows that it's better to relieve one's self outdoors instead of on the carpet. Are there "work at home" homes like that?
Some people can't work at home. You don't see many "work at home" gynecologists, for instance. Or horse breeders. (And you thought house-training a dog was tough.) I doubt I'd like to live next door to a "work at home" hit man or infectious-disease researcher. (Although that likely would cut down on visits by Watch Tower distributors.)
It's probably because of computers that so many people are working at home. So many people sitting alone at make-shift desks amid piles of rubble, wondering where the dream went wrong. They think wistfully of the day a happy voice comes on the radio saying, "Work at work! You, too, can have a job where you sit in a nice, air-conditioned cubicle with new furniture, converse with other human beings and eat lunch at state Health Department inspected-restaurants where they not only bring the food to you but do the dishes afterward." Now, THAT's nirvana.
, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org