You can’t read a paper or look at a news site without seeing a story about how the pandemic changed the rules for work — notably how working from home is the new norm.
But there’s nothing “norm” about it.
Covid forced everyone out the office and into their basements, bedrooms, and kitchens. And it sounds like it was a success. Many employers, the same ones who used to resist telecommuting, found that productivity actually increased without employees coming to the office.
Cool, people are doing more work. But here’s the thing: this is another intrusion through the wall that used to exist between work and your personal life. And it’s a huge one.
It’s a long time now that people have been unable to escape work thanks to email and mobile phones. More recently, folks can “remote in” and it’s just like being at your desk. Covid took things a step further, by literally moving your office into your house.
What used to be a refuge from the nine to five world is now just another cubicle.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some good things about working from home, but overall, it signals the erosion of a sacred space.
How many of you have been on vacation and seen family or friends unable to unplug from work because of their phone? The next thing you know, they’ll just be full out working for a part –or all — of the day.
It wasn’t that long ago that no aspect of remote working was technically possible. And you know what? Shit still got done, even without you there. Imagine that.
Do yourself a favor: turn it off.
My EMS shift on Monday evening runs from 6pm until midnight. Sometimes we’re on the go all night. Other times we sit and sit. You pass the time reading or watching TV. I’d sleep, but when I try to nap, it’s never satisfying.
One thing is certain, Tuesday morning can be tough, especially if you get a late call that keeps you until after midnight. Four hours of sleep or less is the routine.
My strategy for Tuesday is simple: try to be agreeable, and to accomplish this, a good strategy isto say as little as possible. I even have a list of pre-approved phrases that help me get through meetings:
- Great idea!
- Let’s talk more about that.
- I hadn’t thought of it that way.
- Maybe we should bring that to the team.
- Can you send me more information about that?
By the way, if you say these things, don’t do it with a sarcastic tone of voice. Not good.
But the real problems start when you go off script. Sleep deprivation can impair you in the same way as alcohol. And like with alcohol, if you start running your mouth, the results can be bad.
So, here’s my workplace tip of the day: Tired? Say less, smile more and stick to the script. Or just consider calling in sick.
Norman the plumber listened patiently as one of his helpers presented a long soliloquy about what was wrong with the job they were on, why the morning was so difficult and how nothing that went wrong was his fault. This particular laborer was well known for his complaining. As they finished lunch and got ready to go back to work, the plumber addressed the issues and grievances of his underling.
“Kenny, I’ve go some advice. And if you follow this advice, you’ll be a lot better off: shut the fuck up and do your job.”
I was just a teenager, but that stuck with me.
How many times do you wish people would just STFU and do their job? Yes you know exactly what I’m talking about. And don’t get me wrong, it’s advice I should heed more often.
So, I read this tweet last week from our esteemed leader:
OK. You won the election, you’re the most powerful person in the world, now STFU and do your job.
It turns out there’s an easy way to send feedback to the White House with a handy form on their website. Maybe this would be a good time to send Mr. Trump a message that he’d surely understand. STFU and do your job. Really, the world would be so much better, and indeed, it would be a tremendous way to make America great again.
A guy I used to work with believed that toilet smells are hazardous to our health. He’d gesture down the hall to the well-used men’s room. “That first floor bathroom is going to make you sick,” he explained. “When you smell someone’s shit in there, you’re breathing in tiny shit particles,” I nodded in agreement, not because I agreed, but because I didn’t want him to know that I thought he was nuts.
No, I didn’t agree with his particle thesis, but nobody could dispute that the bathroom often smelled revolting. In the interest of full disclosure, I hold the controversial view that people should poop at home, not at the office.
So, one day I decided I’d had enough. Early in the morning, I set up some old sneakers and a pair of jeans in bathroom so it would appear that someone was seated in the stall. During the day, I saw several flustered people go in the bathroom and exit quickly seeing the crapper was occupied. Those needing to use the urinal did so without being subjected to a toxic atmosphere.
Finally, very late in the day, someone peered over the stall door and discovered the ruse. I’m not going to name the person who peeked, and believe me, it’s a name many of you would know.
Some of you will see this as a cruel prank, but is it really crueler than fouling a public space you share with your co-workers? Here’s some advice if you really need to go: take it to another floor.
Maybe you’ve seen David Cronenberg’s film Scanners, you know, with the exploding heads? Well, I thought my head would explode as I was trying to juggle four instant messenger conversations at the office on Friday. When did work get so insane?
Naturally, when I spotted this item in the Vermont Country Store catalog, I was nostalgic for simpler times.
“A pace that lets you think.” Hmmm, I really need that — no, maybe we all need that. I don’t know about your job, but my days lately are fractured by so many meetings that there’s precious little time to sit at my desk and get work done. Doing things at a pace that lets you think would be luxurious.
I’m sure that many of you remember typing your work and then distributing it to people on paper; for you youngsters, it was once commonplace. It might be fun to buy a typewriter and send some work around that way. We could all benefit from a pace that lets you think.
Thanks to Google Maps, I figured out that the downtown lot where I park for work is .39 miles to my office. And thanks to Albany, I really need to watch my step.
I’ve written about the wasteland that has been dubbed the city’s Parking Lot District — and like any true wasteland, there are hazards. Like the sidewalks on Green Street, which, to put it mildly, could use a little work. How bad could it be?
In short, it’s so bad that people have to walk in the street.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan probably doesn’t care what some non-resident thinks of her sidewalks, but I’ll tell her anyway: they suck. You’ve got a lot of people who need them to get to work, and it’s disgraceful that they’re in this condition. And don’t tell me that the sidewalks are not the city’s responsibility, not when your damn parking meters are all over them.
OK, done ranting. Carry on and mind the sidewalks.
It’s hard not to have that Green Acres fantasy when you stroll around the Troy Farmers Market.
“Hmm… I could give it all up and buy a farm! Maybe raise pigs, or something and sell my artisanal pork to fine restaurants and discerning consumers.”
Yes, that’s a fine dream — and it might even be achievable — but you may wake up when you see how much work it is.
We had a look at that over the weekend when we went for lunch at Dancing Ewe Farm in Granville.
Maybe you’ve seen them at the market with their delicious cheeses and Italian cured meats. The farm also hosts dinners and lunches that include a tour of the barn and cheesemaking operation.
So, let me get this straight: you have this big flock of sheep that have to be milked for part of the year, and then you make cheese and cure meat and sell your goods at various farmers markets and to New York restaurants. Oh, and on the weekend you host big meals and give tours of the farm. On top of that you’re fixing machinery, improving buildings, mending fences, chasing coyotes off the property, dealing with all the rules and regulations involved in producing food — it never ends.
I’m not the first one to say this, but think about what it took to put that food on your table, especially the food that comes from independent farms and small producers. Life on the farm seems idyllic when you’re strolling by booths at the market — and it certainly is idyllic in many ways — but a lot of sweat went into those products.
Here are a few pictures from the farm.
Continue reading “Down on the Farm”
At a work gathering, we played a game that involved discovering Christmas facts about your co-workers: their favorite movie, Christmas song, holiday tradition and so on. It was a fun way to get people interacting at the party as teams competed for prizes.
The question about me? My favorite Christmas character — and naturally, the answer was Krampus.
I had to explain Krampus to most people. “Oh, he’s St. Nick’s demon sidekick. He comes for the bad children and carries them away.”
“What does he do with them?”
“Well, he drowns them, or eats them — sometimes he just takes them off to Hell.”
And at that point, most holiday revelers slowly backed away.
So, as you can imagine, it brought me great Christmas joy when the New York Times ran a big story about the revival of Krampuslauf in Bavaria. It’s an annual festival that celebrates the hairy and horned scourge of misbehaving kids, and it sounds like a blast. Forget Oktoberfest, I want to go to Krampuslauf!
There are tons of videos of Krampuslauf events online; this is one of the crazier ones:
Yes, all the best things about Halloween and Christmas rolled into one. This is something we really need around here.
I sometimes like to share things I like from the ad world, and I found this Christmas spot particularly inspiring. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
I was not previously aware of Poo-Pourri — and this is not their first off kilter video — but you can be certain that I’ll pick it up for the house. I may even bring some to work for those people who insist on shi**ing during the work day.