The Quaran-cles III: WFH? More Like “WTF”

The Quaran-cles I: By The Skin of My Teeth

The Quarancles II: Ten or Fewer

Working from the security and comfort of your own home is the ~dream~, right? That’s what they tell me, and I’m always jealous when I hear all the super cool influencers talk about it, but I’m still trying to navigate my way through how I feel about this claim. Is it really as exhilarating as Fifth Harmony described it in their song?

In my few short years of attempting to compose myself in the adult working world, I do not have much experience with the “WFH” life. On occasion, if there was a snowstorm in Philly, our office would close and I would set up shop in my ultra-roomy studio apartment. Trying to “audit” (glorified copy-and-paste) a company’s financials on a singular laptop screen is a full-on nightmare, so luckily, my company provided us with small, portable monitors to ease a minute fraction of the immense pain and frustration.

Because I possessed the flexibility to work without a desktop or on an actual desk, these days usually consisted of me lounging in last night’s pajamas, not brushing anything, and lying in my bed in a deep sea of all my screens and cords, marinating in my sweat as the computer got hot in my lap and the covers. My “kitchen” was about five feet away from my bed, so I’d end up eating both breakfast and lunch before 9:30 AM. Anything to avoid my computer. It was both disgusting and traumatizing.

Next to no work was completed, and I mostly just made sure that my Skype status stayed “green” so that my senior thought I was actually attempting to do what I was getting paid to do. If my boss had been privy to the scene, he’d definitely describe it as “WTF,” not “WFH.” Would love to know what he thought I was doing all day. One particular time, it was “binge the entireĀ seriesĀ UNreal on Hulu.” Eye-opening stuff, if you’re intrigued by the secrets of The Bachelor production scene.

So fast forward to a week ago, when minute-by-minute, the corona news was starting to become more real and more severe. Schools were closing and talk of “social distancing” started to surface, and I pondered what this might mean for my job. My mind bolted back to the sweaty Center City apartment days, and I wasn’t overly thrilled. The one major positive, however, was that no one would be able to barge into my office every five seconds, forcing me to constantly remove my AirPods Pro (not to brag) and interrupt the deafening concert that Halsey is usually performing in my ears.

Sure enough, as my chauffeur dad drove me home from the airport on Monday night, the texts from my boss started to roll in. I work in a ceiling tile manufacturing plant, but in the “front office” part, and not the floor itself. Because of this, I had been deemed “non-essential” (agreed — I mean look at me, I’m on a blogging tear right now because I’m bored af… I can’t be that important), and required to work from home indefinitely. The funniest thing my ever-optimistic boss (the nicest guy — he probably hates me) said during this conversation was, “should be an interesting week!” …week?

Working from home meant that the next morning, I’d have to drive into work, grab my things, and steal (ok I’m not that brazen, I signed it out first) a monitor so that I didn’t plummet into a ceiling tile-sized pit of despair trying to work on one screen. Before I left for Denver last week, I meant to grab my laptop, but forgot, as I was too focused on going home and procrastinating packing until midnight for my 4 AM wake-up call.

“Oh, it’ll be fine! Nothing crazy will happen and I’ll be back on Tuesday like normal!” Everyone has a plan until the Rona punches you in the face! Or should we call it “la” Rona instead? It sounds fancier. And incorrectly Spanish, since we all know this is the Chinese virus, which is stunningly offensive to the virus. As if I give a fuck about this life-taking, market-tanking, business-bankrupting, Penn State Sports Business Conference that Erika Nardini was speaking at-cancelling virus’s feelings.

Once I made it home Tuesday morning, I took a quick survey of the house for possible workspaces. The spot that made the most logical sense, the desk in my room, was occupied by my television, so that was out. We have an “office” on the first floor, but that “belongs” to my mother (she just uses it to store random papers), so I figured she wouldn’t want me in there. My final option, that I chose, was our kitchen table that no one actually eats at. I figured that was non-invasive enough, and that it would be nice to have some company and natural light out there.

As soon as my mom awoke from her slumber, she charged down the stairs, immediately spotted me and (loudly) ordered me to get my ass out, because she assumed I’d be complaining about the noise level in no time. I responded that “not to brag, but I have the AirPods Pro, and I won’t be able to hear anything,” but she did not care, and demanded that I leave “her” kitchen (I make several more dollars than her, so technically it could be mine), and march upstairs to my desk — the desk that I had already determined to be a no-go. My television takes total precedence over the way I earn a living.

Shockingly, when I refused to go upstairs, and may have shouted a few choice words at her, she offered up her office. Not her big, fancy desk that she has never once sat at, and that has a nice view of the yard, of course. But instead, the desk built into a corner of the room, facing the wall, that has been so covered in crap for the past seventeen years that I forgot it existed until the moment my butt was perched in front of it. Beggars can’t be choosers, however, so I accepted, and have quickly grown to love my trendy new little spot. Mostly because I don’t have to put on actual clothing or get in my car in order to sit at it.

Each and every morning of my new life working from home, I have started off spending extensive hours trying to get some stupid macro to run so that I can complete a very painful daily report that already consumes an absurd amount of my day. The first day, I was on the wrong VPN, because of course I was. The next two days, I have no idea what was wrong. Just wouldn’t work, because of course it wouldn’t. And it’s not like I know how to fix that shit. I’m not a computer nerd. The only macros I’d heard of before this job were the ones that people used to be obsessed with counting in their diets. #IIFYM!!!! Someone probably messed it up while I was on vacation. I have a few ideas as to what happened there, but I won’t point fingers.

(Note that this tweet was not to say I am a bad teacher, because I am fantastic, but rather that the report is so ridiculous and complicated that she could not fathom how I do it every day. Me either, sis.)

In fairness to the malfunctioning macro, it has given me a way to occupy my quaran-time. The plant is still running as usual, so I’m not sure what the deal is, but I have had almost nothing to do. **I am not complaining about this, work gods. Please keep it this way so that I can keep mindlessly binging Love Is Blind while occasionally making sure no one has emailed me.**

Update: In the midst of penning this blog, the governor of Pennsylvania has ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to shut down physical locations. Shockingly, ceiling tiles do not sustain life, just my paycheck, so our plant has been closed. I thought this would be the end to my short WFH stint, but my boss called me this morning and assured me that we would still have things to do. Oh, sick! I totally didn’t watch Love Is Blind all night thinking that I would never have to wake up early and return to my quaint corner desk ever again.

Things could be worse, though, I get it. I could have been laid off. I won’t be too much of a jerk and forget to be grateful in a terrifying time such as this one. Overall, life is good. However, there are some drawbacks to the WFH life. The chair at this desk sucks. I’m pretty sure it serves more decorational than functional purposes. It’s got a nice cushion but it makes my back feel like I’m creeping up on my 100th birthday. I texted my mom to inform her, maybe get some sympathy and/or a new one. In response, she sent me an article about how a local hospital had patients testing positive for the Rona. Good to know, but I’m gonna be in there soon if I don’t get a new chair.

Another challenge is finding the restraint to not just sit around and eat all day. I used to think it was hard not to eat the candy that sat just outside my office door (not to brag but I have my own office and I have no idea how I swung that). Now, I am working in the space that my younger brothers inhabit, which means it is absolutely EXPLODING with every kind of junk food under the sun. The upside, though, is that my mom is here, so if she sees me try to eat any, she can shame me out of it. What are parents good for, if not attempting to keep you from getting fat? We’ve crossed “replacing your chair” off the list, so I’m fine with this instead.

All in all, I’m enjoying working from home. The only way it could really get better is if I actually didn’t have to work. Which I guess I’m not really doing anyway, since I just wrote this 1700+ word blog — so yeah! I guess it’s pretty sweet!

Everyone stay safe out there. Join me in WFH if you can and try not to get fat. The sooner we band together, the sooner it’ll all be over, and we can go back having to make small talk at the water cooler with Jim.