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Earlier this week I crossed a line I should not have crossed. I drove my son, and two of his friends, to school... in my pyjamas. I was scolded by my child who said he’d been traumatized by the experience.
Before getting to the whys and wherefores of the severe lowering of my standards, I have three things to say in my defense.
First, I wore a long, black housecoat over the pyjamas, which, if seen in a blurry haze from a passing car might have been mistaken for an overcoat. Second, the kids were lucky to get a ride because I could have made them walk in the rain. And third, my son can at least be grateful I didn’t also have rollers in my hair. That would have made the drop-off infinitely more embarrassing for everyone.
Now, to the bigger problem: the loss of dignity stemming from my unfortunate wardrobe choice is yet more fallout from my working from home on a full-time basis.
During this time I have also become convinced of the immediate and pressing need for a Home Workers’ Union (HWU), with an Occupational Health and Safety Department to oversee the distribution of thousands of pamphlets and posters devoted to the “Just take a frigging shower, already!” campaign.
It’s pretty sad, actually, because we’re not really a slovenly, lazy bunch of people. Home Workers all over the world rise and shine every day with good intentions, wanting to fix ourselves up and put on real clothes at some point during the day.
Unfortunately, failing to establish a timeline for “at some point” is the crux of the problem. One hour drifts into another, one day slips into the next and, before you know it, pyjamas and skin have established a semi-permanent bond—think, wearable security blanket.
Ah, I remember what it was like to work from work and how I envied the home workers. Back then I had to be in the office, answering phones and bringing people coffee. To think of all the time I wasted, nursing a case of sour grapes, wearing a Neiman Marcus suit, fantasizing about how glamorous it would be to lounge around my apartment in my PJs “catching up on email” or, cooler still, “writing a report.”
Curse you proverbial greener grass! Curse you!
In addition to washing (or failing to) as a working-from-home hazard, there is also snacking to contend with. This is a very serious problem that the HWU simply must address.
Author, columnist, and fellow Home Worker, Dave Barry, has admitted that there isn’t a single thing in his house he hasn’t tried to slather with peanut butter. My problem isn’t so much peanut butter as it is cheese nibbling:
My husband: For heaven’s sake, where is all the cheese?
Me: I think the mice are getting in. You better get some really big traps!
I used to think working from home would be the ultimate firewall between my crazed binge-o-saurus and all the tempting sweets and treats at the office: “If I could just be at home” I railed silently, “I would be safe.”
Of course what I know now is that being home alone—climbing the walls, trying to ward off the satanic forces of a loaf of home-baked bread and a stick of butter—is way tougher than avoiding some do-gooder’s leftover cheesecake in the staff kitchen. At least at the office there were witnesses. Nothing beats the raised eyebrows of shame and the occasional “Are we having a snack-attack, today?” from a sarcastic co-worker as a way to keep consumption civilized.
And, if questionable personal grooming and bingeing aren’t enough to prove my point that working from home is fraught with difficulties, there’s the abject misery of good old-fashioned loneliness to deal with, too. My only recourse has been to band together with the coffee shop squatters. (I hate that phrase, but, unfortunately, there isn’t a better one.)
As with anything, of course, there is good and bad. Knowing my dubious kind is under heavy scrutiny these days I’ve made it my mission to mooch responsibly, if such a thing is possible. I never set up my laptop at the best table in the house, unless it’s empty, and I buy refills every 1,000 words.
Still, it’s probably only a matter of time before Coffee Cravings begins charging a premium for taking up an office-like space within the establishment. But I’ll pay. It would be well worth my peace of mind to secure a venue that assures real human contact.
And I’ll do anything to avoid being home alone with that neurotic mouse—the cheese-eater in the bad pyjamas.