Monday, March 15, 2010

joining the masses.

i'm one of you now. but we'll get to that later.
(my old office, day 6)

today i say goodbye work from home (WFH), and the past 13 months of my professional existence (oft-numbing, but has become strangely comforting). usually, when learning of my (now previous) resigned fate/state of office, many would often ask/wonder if they could do it. usually their past WFH experience was limited to a few random days, once in a blue moon, when it was snowy outside, the repairman cometh, they're sick, OR just had too much to get done.

WFH full-time is a totally different story. 

imagine if you had to do it EVERY day for a week. then make it last a few weeks. then a few months. you slowly begin to to lose perspective/dimension, given the minimal contact with the outside world, save your speakerphone, the internet, the mailman/dogs upstairs, and your girlfriend at the beginning/end of the day (both the emotional trough and peak of an otherwise placid day, respectively).

but it's not as bad as it sounds. especially after you've gotten used to it.

in case you wondered what a typical WFH day would entail, allow me to enlighten you:
-roll out of bed. 
-find pants. put on pants.
-walk into den/corner office - turn on laptop, open drapes.
-bathroom: wash up. start brushing teeth.
-den/office: setup VPN to the company (still brushing teeth). start outlook.
-bathroom: rinse.
-back to bedroom - select tshirt. check calendar (on phone, bc computer/outlook is still booting).
-kitchen: ponder on breakfast. pour a drink.
-den/office: open gmail. check woot/teefury/google reader (having long ago dropped the inAnity of facebook/twitter from my daily routine).
-see who's made it to work yet (on gchat/communicator).
-scan work email.
-start day (spent mostly on the phone, but usually anchored to the safe, warm confines of the confines of the box that is my home office)

alternatively, for the 1-3x/week i went into the City for work:
-wake up (earlier). put on more respectable clothes (usually ironed the night before).

-throw some fruit in baggie.
-put on coat (otherwise known as the "power jacket", which, until several months ago, was a thrift store piece leftover from a long-past halloween party).
-select a book/magazine for the ride in.
-find my shoes.
-grab my bag.
-check for wallet/phone/keys.
-lock door.
-walk (or run, depending what time it is) 7 minutes down the hill.
-stand on the train platform.

-wait (don't make eye contact).
-catch my (express) train on the ride in, i'd dart in + out of email/reading materials, stare out the window at the Hudson, nodding in and out of a sort of awakened slumber that always seems to leave me groggy by the time i arrive to...

-Grand Central (the most beautiful stop in NYC, IMHO):
-ride the subway. have NYC's sheer diversity punch you in the face (don't make eye contact).
-outside of the day's meetings, the rest of my city-day is parked at a desk for the usual work fill of emails, conference calls, free coffee, etc.
-when in the city, i also always (try to) find/make time to catch up over lunch/coffee with a friend/work colleague - whether at my own company, a partner agency, an interesting startup, or just a NYC pal.

no more.

as of today, i'm one of you now. one of the 9-5 working stiffs.
-up in the morning. wash up.

-pants (freshly ironed) on.
-make sure hair/face is presentable (beyond the the scruffy dishevelled look i sport in my box to scare away young children, make TSA officers suspicious, and attract the liz-adies).
-sit down for a short breakfast.
-put on an (ironed) work shirt - TUCKED IN.
-grab my bag.
-walk to the car (parked 5 mins away in the village lot).
-for 30 minutes.

-dart in and out of NPR, a White Stripes album (that's in been in my car cd player for far too long, considering i only drive the infernal machine to move to the day's designated side of the street), and new Tom Petty anthology on my phone.
-keep an eye on traffic (the slow commuters surrounding me are like sheep to my wolf).
-look out for cops.
-make sure i don't miss my exit, or hit an old lady. 

-arrive at my destination
-find a parking spot. 
-deal with security. 
-wander the cubicle maze that is my new office domicile.
-social interaction.
-drive home.

how do you people do this every day, each way? is this any way to live?

for perspective, in all my grown up years i've always minimized my commute. way back when in highschool, i spent my latter years at a boarding (nerd) school where i lived on campus, and often rolled out of bed to goto class. in college, i (mostly) lived on campus, walking into class/work each day. for grad school, i just got an apartment on the fringes of campus - a 10-15 min walk in. when i got a job and moved to cincinnati, i got a flat on the bus line, and walked out like a schoolkid to the busstop every morning, listening to music, reading my magazine, and yes, sometimes running to the corner when i saw the bus fast approaching. i eventually moved into a townhouse that was closer, on even more bus-lines, and a 10-minute bike ride downhill to work (the ride back hom from work - was a forced workout UP the least on the days i didn't put my bike on the bus or con a friend/girlfriend to pick me up for dinner). and when i lived in Asia? a pleasant walk to the MRT (metro) station one stop to my urban high-rise office.

bottom line: i've never had to commute via car. and the past year upon moving to NY had afforded me the most pleasant commute - either rolling out of bed or take an express train. and now that's over.

so, long gone are the days where i can:
-make a fresh sandwich in the toaster oven at lunch. 
-find something on TV for lunch.
-walk around the apartment on speakerphone and mute for conference calls (if i sit at my computer i inevitably get distracted).
-listen for the mailman come in and excitedly rush down for the day's mail.
-go for a leisurely midday walk or to the gym.
-NOT leave the apartment during inclement New York weather.
-get the laundry/dishes/random apartment cleaning done.
-stop working to write a blog post when inspiration hits. 
-organize/upload pics in the background. 
-slide around our apartment's hardwood floors in my socks.
-make a fresh cup of spiced chai (when done right, a 30-45 min process).
-sit on the bouncy ball at my 'home office' (desk wedged in the corner of our den).
-ride the train.
-have fun working/playing in the City.

oh, work from home, how i'll miss thee.

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