The endless think pieces about working from home continue after nine months of pandemic.
A common complaint, I’ve noticed, is being interrupted by “delivery men” (and it’s couriers, surely) and children. The think pieces either bemoan them with no solution or use these new distractions as jumping off points to discuss the adaptation of garden sheds or kitchens as professional work spaces.
Kids and couriers probably are new distractions for the suddenly homebound employee, but don’t they pale in comparison to the distractions of the open-plan office?
Off the top of my head today (on the occasion of my two-year second escape anniversary!) I remember my consciousness being shattered by the following:
– ringing telephones (mine and those of colleagues)
– computer hardware problems
– computer network problems
– fire drills and false alarms
– the bins are full
– someone’s microwaved lunch smells like farts
– sudden meetings
– long-dreaded meetings
– colleague birthday lunches
– colleague leaving lunches
– “could I just have a quick word?”
– “did anyone see [dystopian claptrap on TV] last night?”
– coffee machine malfunction
– coffee machine success
– new baby discussion
– ill-informed opinions on current affairs
– beverage spills
– fantasy football
– mild sexual harassment
– serious sexual harassment
– passive aggression that inevitably comes from good people being cooped up together
– fear of someone looking at my screen and seeing my personal business
– “creative play”
– unasked-for, overly-long training session
– team bonding exercise
– too much stationery
– not enough stationery
– “does anyone know where [object] is?”
– “does anyone know who Sheila is?”
– announcement of and complaining about new estates and facilities rules
– smoking-related logistical problems
– parking-related logistical problems
– traffic- or train-related logistical problems
– people showing up for meetings on the wrong day
– ceiling tile on a troubling angle
– it’s too cold
– it’s too hot/stuffy
– plants needing water
– humans needing water
– debate around the word “potable”
– card-signing and gift money donation for Karen
– confidential shredding service is overdue
– confidential shredding service guys are in the way
– planned or unplanned construction work
– putting up Christmas decorations
– taking down Christmas decorations
– Christmas party organisation
– endless chatter about Christmas party menu options
– Christmas cards versus charity donation
– explaining about Hanukkah again
– florescent lights flickering
– health-and-safety inspection
– “who took my chair?”
– “agile”-oriented hot desk uncertainty
– room- or equipment-booking system confusion
– man on a step ladder
– specialist cleaning service
– where to recycle cardboard?
– toilets out of order
– slippy area
– existential anxiety (what am I doing here???)
– separation anxiety (from loved ones, personal projects)
– someone finally snaps and goes berserk
– so-and-so’s PA was crying in the toilets
– oh! and couriers and off-work colleagues popping in with their kids
Did you relate to that? Well, I’m happy to say that there’s even more to relate to in The Good Life for Wage Slaves! Give it a try.
I’m less interested in Tiny Houses than I used to be, but it’s hard not to admire the vision and chutzpah behind Earthship Ironbank.
Reader Richard draws our attention to this remarkable poem by D. H. Lawrence. It’s called All That We Have is Life. Richard aptly remarks, “I think he was on our side!”
*clears throat.* Here goes:
All that we have, while we live, is life;
and if you don’t live during your life, you are a piece of dung.
And work is life, and life is lived in work
unless you’re a wage-slave.
While a wage-slave works, he leaves life aside
and stands there a piece of dung.
Men should refuse to be lifelessly at work.
Men should refuse to be heaps of wage-earning dung.
Men should refuse to work at all, as wage-slaves.
Men should demand to work for themselves, of themselves,
and put their life into it.
For if a man has no life in his work, he is mostly a heap of dung.
Not one to mince words was he, old D. H.?
I’ve read no Lawrence other than The Plumed Serpent, which I’m told is not typical of his work. Had Richard not passed this on to me, I doubt I’d have come across it for decades, if ever, so thanks Richard.
If, like me and D. H. Lawrence, you’ve ever felt like a HEAP OF DUNG, you might enjoy The Good Life for Wage Slaves, out now!
A quote about escape from Mockingbird, a 1980 sci-fi novel by Walter Tevis:
Life in prison wasn’t [so bad] and if I learned to be like Belasco I could make an easy life for myself here. There really was almost no discipline, once you learned how to avoid being beaten by the guards, just by keeping an eye out for them. Obviously, once the device of the metal bracelets had been invented, everything about running a prison had gone slack, as with so much else. There was plenty of dope, and I was used to the food and the labor. And there was TV, and Biff, my cat…
But that was only part of me. There was another, deeper part that said, “You must leave this place.” And I knew, knew even to my terror, that I had to listen to that voice.
My old programming would say, “When in doubt, forget it.” But I had to quiet that voice, too. Because it was wrong. If I was to continue to live a life that was worth the trouble of living it, I had to leave.
The Belascos among you might enjoy The Good Life for Wage Slaves, a guide to staying sane in The Trap. Get it from P+H Books or from the New Escapologist shop today. For those who’d scarper, there’s Escape Everything!