While raising my kids for the past 12 years, I’ve been fortunate to be able to work from home. It’s part time, and it’s not making me rich, but interviewing interesting people and writing blogs for businesses keeps me in tune with the real world — and challenges me a little more than it does to determine what “shapes” are floating in the toilet, or what the newest smell is that’s coming from my boys’ room.
But as much as I appreciate not having to drive in traffic or spend a fortune on work clothes, focusing at home is not always easy. Here are just a few reasons why.
1. My co-workers are inconsiderate.
I’ve worked with some rude people in past jobs, but never as rude as the ones I work with now. It never fails that the moment I sit down at my desk, some little munchkin comes along and asks me for a snack. Or a drink. Or to change the channel. And when I finally do get into a groove and my thoughts are flowing, my brain has to slam on its breaks the second I hear “Mooom!!! I’m dooone!!” because that means I have to go investigate a little booty in the bathroom. Will plain old TP work, or do we need a wet wipe? And I have to consider that I can’t flush too many wet wipes down the toilet because I JUST finished a blog for a plumber about how flushable wipes are not REALLY flushable. When the toilet is flushed and hands are washed, I head back to my desk and try my darndest to pick up where I left off, but switching gears after all that crap is never easy.
Even on the days when the little people are out of the house and I should be able to concentrate, my four-legged office mate decides to bug me. She loooves to interact, and won’t take no for an answer. So as I stare at my computer and start to type, from the corner of my eye I can see her sitting there – with her face about as high as my waist – staring at me. If I make eye contact, it’s all over. She starts flapping her jaws as if she’s talking – telling me I need to play with her RIGHT NOW. She goes to get a toy and shoves it into my lap and just keeps pushing her nose against my leg until I throw it. At least years ago in the office, I could tell a busybody co-worker to leave me alone and they’d listen — and if anyone kept hitting me relentlessly with a chain of rubber rings, they’d be fired.
2. The janitorial crew is lazy.
When hunger strikes and I venture into the lunchroom, any thoughts I had about work are out the window. I see dishes piled in the sink because the “interns” were supposed to do them last night before bed, I see a trash can that needs to be emptied STAT, and — is that a noodle from last night’s lasagna hanging from under the table? I tell myself I’ll just take a few minutes to get things in order, but it always leads to more time spent away from my desk. I start matching lids to Gladware containers, sweeping crumbs off the floor, or organizing cereal boxes – once I determine which ones do, in fact, still contain cereal.
When I get back to my desk with the notebook I browsed through during lunch, I do all I can to keep my notes in tact while yanking the pages apart – because the custodian didn’t do a good job wiping down the table after this morning’s pancake breakfast.
3. There’s no sound-proof office.
If I’m expecting a call, I tell everyone they have to be quiet when the phone rings. They nod their heads as if they really, truly get it. But low and behold, the minute I pick it up and switch my voice into “business” mode, the big boys start arguing about whether they’re going to watch the MLB station or iCarly. And the little girl starts following me around asking me if she can have another popsicle, because the dog just licked the one I already gave to her. And did I mention that there’s someone on the other end of the line, wondering if I’m asking them if they want grape, blueberry or bubblegum?
If I get a chance to sneak away, I go into my bedroom and close and lock the door. “So how long have you been teaching Tai-Chi, and can you tell me some ways that it relaxes you,” I ask my interviewee. Then BAM BAM BAM comes a startling knock, turning it into a very non-relaxing conversation. “Excuse me,” I say professionally into the phone, as I retreat farther from the banging into my bathroom and close that door. Since I can still hear the “Mooom!!?” I turn the vent fan on, and even though the Tai Chi instructor is almost inaudible, at least I can focus enough to finish my interview. Plus, if I feel the urge to pee, I’m already in the right place.
But even with all its disadvantages, I wouldn’t choose to move my office. The perks by far outweigh the pain – especially when it comes to the end of the day. All I have to do is stand up, walk a few steps to get to happy hour, and pour myself a glass.
After the craziness that happens in this place, I think I deserve a drink.