Marolt: Could a crazy man really figure out how a home office works?
I was talking with my friend, Jackie, about the environment because that is her job and because I didn’t feel the weather was remarkable enough lately to comment. She pointed out that we need to use technology to clean up the planet. I thought of electric cars and cleaner fuels. She brought up my office.
She said a great way to cut down on greenhouse gases is not to drive to work. I agreed, but pointed out that the bus doesn’t fit my complicated schedule, if I’m justifying, or style, if I’m being honest. Basically, I am addicted to inventing excuses for why I need my car without even thinking about it.
She pointed out that I’m not thinking outside the box I call my SUV. She pointed out that I could probably work from home and not commute at all, at least a few days a week. There was a long silence.
This made me think that a home office might be a great idea. My wife, doing the same work I do, has worked from home for years. She has lately mentioned that, now that the kids are grown, she might like an office in town. This was an opportunity. I could create an office in the basement where the kids used to play. I could try it out a couple days a week and Susan could use my office in town to see if it suited her. Brilliant!
Now I have to tell you about two seemingly unrelated things that you need to know to make sense about what I’m going to tell you after that. I know, I know; this is starting to look like the Rubik’s Cube of columns, but I promise it will be a nice shiny box with different colored sides when I’m finished, and you will better understand how my wife thinks.
First, after 25 years of working downtown, I am tired of walking to City Market every noon, looking over the same old choices for lunch food, and walking out with basically the same old things to take back to the office to consume for sustenance.
One of the biggest benefits of empty-nesting has been my wife’s difficulty adjusting to preparing smaller dinners for just the two of us. It results in ample leftovers, which I now brown-bag so that I can enjoy another round of her delicious cooking while I am at work. I have made lunch great again!
Second, I feel guilty leaving my ski jacket, helmet and gloves on a table in a crowded on-mountain restaurant while I wait in line to get my food. Lately, I volunteer to sit at the table while my wife grabs a slice of pizza and drink for me from the cafeteria line. It really doesn’t change anything for anyone, but I feel it is more polite to be there to explain that my people are coming back soon to occupy a table littered with ski gear that somebody else might otherwise be able to hog the same way. My wife thinks I have a phobia about standing in lines.
Now, I will get to my point: My wife actually thought I was going crazy. The empty nest thing is a huge adjustment and I was making gigantic changes in my life that she deduced were alarming; sometimes working from home, brown-bagging my lunch, and saving tables with my warm body all added up to a troubled man edging toward the drop-off into the isolated realm of a kook.
It all came to head last week when I wondered out loud why she had not yet taken advantage of the idea of sharing my downtown office with her a couple days a week. She replied, “What?”
It turns out I had never actually explained what my plan was — making a home office for me was intended to help her. When I told her, she was overcome. Tears of joy filled her eyes.
“Honey,” I said sympathetically satisfied that my thoughtfulness had such an effect. “It’s just office-sharing.”
“That’s not it,” she replied. “I thought you were slipping — working from home, bagging your lunch, not wanting to wait in line at the cafeteria — I thought you were withdrawing!”
“What?” I exclaimed.
“The other day when I came down to your new basement office at noon and you were still in your pajamas working — the messy hair, the scraggly chin stubble, had you even brushed your teeth? It scared me.”
“Ah, honey,” I said sympathetically. “I’m sorry. I should have been clearer. I didn’t have any appointments scheduled.”
Roger Marolt is crazy, but always has been. Nothing to worry about. Email at email@example.com.
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