This morning, no-one on my team was in the office. So, while there was the usual schedule to adhere to, the workday was going to be light (because I get things done on time and never have any leftover work) and there wasn’t that insane panic of trying to get to work “on time”. Before I started the portion of work that had me work from home in the mornings, I’d usually be in before most people on my team. Now that I’m only in about 30 minutes after they are, I find I’ m catching up on meetings that are deliberately held without me (not maliciously), and I am always unclear on the follow-up work that is assigned to me from a meeting I didn’t even fucking go to. It’s like being given comprehension homework from a book they told you not to read.
This morning’s commute was very dead. I took a later train (when you’re more likely to see friendlier commuters in jeans as opposed to sour-faced suits fighting to get to that Special Door before you do, and saw that there was less traffic on the roads, more actual people about and the sun was properly out. Yesterday I ran like a maniac down to the nearest internet cafe after hurriedly getting ready, and it was similarly dead, but still quite dark out. What a difference 90 minutes make. Anyone who is heading out is probably working shift work or mega flexi-time, so you won’t feel trampled by the commuter stampedes, feel in mortal danger whenever you’re crossing a road (no-one pays attention to the traffic lights) and could get a coffee in my local without thinking, “do I have time to ask for whipped cream?”. Well, there’s always time for whipped cream. Shut up.
It was naturally, less stressful than the standard commute. I understand the business needs for keeping the same hours as everyone else, but in a job like mine, why not allow crazily-flexible work options so the day doesn’t become that much of a grind? Everyone has to commute in, but if you’ve got a company-issued laptop and have access to the company’s network, why not fit the commute around the work deadlines (instead of saying “I can’t work on this until X o’clock) and just turn up in a reasonable early-to-mid-morning window? As long as you’re putting in the same hours, it shouldn’t matter too much if you push back your office arrival by an hour or two, providing your work doesn’t require conference calls/in-person urgency.
So there you have it. More space to do things and more time to carry them out = less stress. My roommate didn’t quite get the urgency of yesterday’s interwebz connection problems until I explained it while careening out the door at breakneck speed while she was leisurely cooking her breakfast. Like most people, she has a morning schedule that begins before work. Unless I stay awake all night or wake up at 4.30am, I have to squeeze a typical morning schedule into the 20 minutes before I’m due to log on. Every aspect of my work morning schedule is micromanaged to the minute – not by my own choice, but because of the myriad of inter-hour deadlines by which certain routine tasks need to be done. And if I am late by 90 minutes, the entire company notices and we get emails from employees around the world telling us that we fucked up.
Having the freedom to stroll downtown, leisurely grab a coffee and stand at a less-crowded station to board a much, much longer train (WHY are the rush-hour trains only half as long??), with much more room to sit, then a shuttle bus ride to the office without hitting any traffic whatsoever. This will never happen again, so I had to enjoy it while it lasted. Instead of shoving the train station doors wide open, I actually stood held the door for someone. Unfortunately, it caused me to miss the last shuttle bus of the day (I saw it drive off) and I had to take the damn subway. But, whatever.
This experiment is supposed to run until Monday, but I can’t see any way to manifest this new-age stuff as reality unless there is some supernatural comic book power element to it. While there may be spiders lurking in my room, none of them are radioactive, and I will just have to be that person who is forced to commute in rush hour without having the benefit of getting ready for work in the way that normal people do. I have no time for myself anymore because of my job, and that’s unlikely to change until I get a different, normal job. The last person who did these duties was a permanent employee who worked closer to the train station (in a nicer office), and left earlier in the day to accommodate the earlier start. I get both ends of a shitty stick, but it helps that I am staying with a genuinely loving, calm, patient and stable roommate.
The “love” that is supposed to be everywhere hasn’t changed as a result of this experiment. Real life doesn’t bend things that way and I am too deeply-rooted in the practical, stressful world because of the things I have to do – a stressful job, expensive, stressful immigration procedures, stressful relationship issues and a life generally in constant, stressful transit, away from the friends, family and everything I left behind for…this.
The only way to slog through it is to hope that this is just a temporary, due-paying crapfest that will be over soon, because, in this country, nothing is free, nothing is easy, and you have to lower and debase every standard you have before you can get your life to be even 1/10th as good as you used to have it. That’s the reward. Enjoying these lazy days when they come around is like having a holiday. Just ask this brat: