Showing posts with label telework. Show all posts
Showing posts with label telework. Show all posts

Friday, June 5, 2020

One Week


It was approximately a year ago when I began marking "lasts"..."this is the last time I'll..."

My job has distinct seasons. Summer is more laid back and allows one time to think and create. It was approximately a year ago that I formed my events committee. My goal was to form a cohesive unit out of a gaggle of hermits who kept their faces glued to their screens 99.9% of the day. Together my work group devised activities that made people laugh and actually converse with one another. Also, food helped. Maybe the biggest mark I made on my department was the formation of the Star Catchers (not my name ~ it was a group vote).

As winter approaches, the department becomes busier and scurrier. There is much to be accomplished before the year ends, and long hours ensue. Many days I alighted at my office before sunup and left for home in the dark. This was not my favorite time of year. So, one of my countdowns was "one more year of reinsurance".

I naively thought I could count down other day-to-day activities, but that was before Corona showed up and made us all flee to the confines of our homes to work remotely. I'd envisioned a going-away party, during which I would tell everyone how much I treasured them and would miss them. Ehh. I guess I can email a few people next week.

Today as I was working, it suddenly hit me how much I know about what I do. I'm not normally a claim examiner ~ training is my responsibility ~ but in these times, I do whatever needs to be done. So as I was processing claims, I was transported back to the many weeks I sat next to a new employee in the training room and guided them through the intricacies of their brand-new job. I found today that I'm pretty good at it. Some like to know how to follow each step; the good ones also can intuit when to question something. It's not an easy skill to instill. Maybe it only comes with years and years of experience. In a week I can discard all of that, I guess. 

I feel inexplicably sad, but I must remind myself of the alternative. How many more years could I carry on with this? Every single thing has to end.

Tomorrow I shall go into the office for the first time since March 16. I will clean out my desk and dump my belongings into a cardboard box. The office is deserted, so I'll be able to say goodbye to my cubicle unimpeded. Tomorrow I will cry a tear.

Things I did this week:

  • I don't even know how Monday zoomed to Friday. This was the fastest week in history. 

Things I learned this week:

  • The Ace In The Hole SiriusXM channel is no more. It was delicious while it lasted.

So I did little and learned even less. That's how it goes when things are winding down. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

Two Weeks?

Isn't it the way things go? The closer a deadline looms, the more little things pile up that absolutely, positively have to get done? I'm great at fooling myself; a master procrastinator, if you will. Where did the time go, I ask myself. Then suddenly new tasks pop into my mind and my to-do list grows.

I have two weeks of employment remaining. Thus, two weeks of health insurance. I thus must squeeze in a yearly medical exam and finish up that bridge work before the buzzer buzzes; all the while careful not to use any of my 238.02 hours of paid personal leave so I can reap a big payout at the end of the day. (I knew there was a good reason I never took a vacation).

Working from home, I don't have the luxury of imparting the wisdom of my job, except via emails to my boss. And if one does the same things every day for twenty years, they tend to take duties for granted and perform them on auto-pilot. Attempting to create a list is mysteriously difficult. I think it may be because so much of what I do is intangible, and I can't convey that electronically, hard as I try. Had my replacement been named, the two of us could share phone conversations. Alas, that person is unknown to me (and to everyone else at this point). 

My boss keeps hinting that maybe I could potentially, theoretically change my mind; but that die is cast. And I'm warming up to the prospect of retirement. And everything must end.

Things I've done this week:

  • I visited my dental office. Much as I abhor dentist visits, I appreciated human contact so much, I transformed into a veritable chatterbox.
  • I retrieved multiple Amazon packages from my doorstep and mailbox and marveled at the number of purchases I vaguely remember transacting.
  • I mistook Tuesday for Monday (in my defense, it was a holiday week).

Things I learned this week:

  • There truly are some evil humans. I always excused people as being "troubled". Sometimes video disabuses one of those notions.
  • I watched online and on TV as my adopted city burned. 
  • I decided that the year 2020 has no redeeming qualities.

Enjoy your weekend. And don't set anything on fire.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Two Months

In some ways it's felt like forever. Then again, it's but a blink of an eye. My home office has existed for two-plus months. March 17 was my first day as a telecommuter, and here's the deal: I like it. I would have to be dragged back into the office, and even then I would seek out every opportunity to bolt for the door. Why didn't I know this before? Who is the fool who enjoys toiling inside a cubicle? Granted, my job doesn't normally lend itself to telework, but "in these troubled times" all rules have been abandoned. I'm just as productive at home as I was in the office ~ I have good days and not-so-good days. It all evens out.

As I approach my last three weeks of employment, I've tried to remember everything I need to tell my boss about my job that she doesn't know (which, honestly, is about one hundred per cent. I've done this for seventeen years; I am long past the need for supervision.) No one has been promoted to my position yet, so I am unable to share my wisdom with them ~ they're gonna have to learn the way I did, by making it up as they go. I am not opposed to that. In 1991 when I was promoted to a supervisory position at a former employer, the assistant told me on my first day, "I'll tell you how we do things." I replied, "Okay, and I'll tell you how I do things." Everyone must put her own stamp on a job, and God, fresh blood can only be a plus. It's true that I'm somewhat territorial, but that will subside, once I no longer care.

As I pass the two-month mark, I've thought about things I no longer do:

  • I have not set my alarm in two months.
  • I've only blown-dried my hair once.
  • Since March 18 I've not once strapped on a bra.
  • I've poured myself convenience store coffee only twice.
  • Not once have I pulled on a pair of jeans (thankfully ~ chances are they would no longer fit).
  • I haven't eaten a salad.
  • I have not washed clothes on a Saturday.
  • I applied makeup once ~ to look more presentable for a video meeting. Then I stopped caring.

Things I now do:

  • Listen to a local talk radio show that I never before gave a chance.
  • Mourn the loss of Josie at least once a day.
  • Walk every day at 9:00 a.m.
  • Retrieve the mail daily ~ to get out of the house.
  • Smoke too much.
  • Stitch my fingers sore once my shift is over.

As I hit the milestone of age sixty-five this week, my husband bought me art supplies. I'm an artist, but not a dexterous one. I'm not ruling it out, however. I never rule out anything. I'm a late bloomer ~ constantly surprised by the things I am able to do.

 So here's to art and feeding one's soul.

This song catches my breath, but it's about moving on, so it fits. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Telework - Week 9 - Sliding Into Home

My Lone Beautiful Tree

Spring is here.It had taunted us briefly with temperatures in the sixties, but then the chill returned and brought a smattering of snow with it. This time it's not a trick. Spring is hard-fought in Minnesota, like most everything. We're used to being deceived and we try to accept it, much like our quarantine. I don't wear a mask when I'm taking my lone walk to the mailbox, but I don't glad-hand people, either. I want them to keep away from me, much like in my pre-COVID life (unless they're walking a dog). My neighborhood is rather transient -- people come and people go -- I don't know any of my neighbors except for a nodding acquaintance with the lady next door. I'm not being rude by passing them by. I like solitude. I like smelling the apple blossoms and comparing my front-yard tree's magnificence to the other spindly trees on the block as I shuffle home, bills and circulars in hand.

Mostly I don't go out. I don't like serpentining around the casual walker, wary they might breathe on me. I traveled to my local convenience store on Tuesday morning, the first time I've been anywhere in more than a week. I got to say, "hi" to folks I know and then I went home. Five-second personal interaction.

My seventeen-year-old cat spends most of his day under the bed and I work eight hours a day, so I see my husband at breakfast time and during our nightly news-watching hour.

When I was younger, I was perfectly content with my own company. As the years ticked by, I found that people can be fun. I miss shooting the breeze with my work friends. Email is not the same. Texts are three-word missives.I'm afraid that as this isolation goes on I'll revert back to isolation, which is mentally unhealthy.

I've finally concluded, after two months of irrational fear, that staying away from people is stupid. Sure, I'm soon-to-be sixty-five years old and catching Coronavirus could be a death sentence -- or not. But this scene has become ridiculous. I'll take care of me; let other people live their lives. This is going to be a perpetual earthquake. Nobody, or mostly nobody, wants to conjure the devastation that will result from lock-down. I guess I'm lucky that my biggest concern is the apple blossoms.

Things I've done this week:

  • I submitted my retirement date to HR. It was harder than I expected -- it's so final. But I'm feeling pretty good about it, once I finally pulled the trigger.
  • I tweeted too much, but really, some people are so imbecilic.

Things I've learned this week:

  • Humans are pliable. I can't even fathom returning to the office at this point. Home is my workplace now. I could probably be held hostage for eighteen months and I'd eventually be okay with it. 
  • There's truly no one better than George Strait. I do wish SiriusXM would do a deeper dive into his album tracks, however. I miss my computer and all my favorite music

Friday, May 8, 2020

Telework - Week 8

I don't know what week this is. I barely know what day it is. I never leave the house.I did take a ride to Culvers on Saturday. I marveled at the green grass and the curve of the road. I walked down to the mailbox today -- the temperature was 36 degrees. I wore shorts. It really didn't matter. Probably should have shaved my legs, though.  At least I got to feel actual air. 

I can't fathom what normal life would be like. It'd probably be pretty good.I wonder if the hairdresser will hold a lottery once its doors are allowed to open. It's not that anyone sees me, but I see me. Old ladies should not wear their hair long; it's not a good look. My husband found some thinning shears in a long-forgotten dog grooming kit. He used them on himself and he looks pretty good. I'm going to give them a whirl tomorrow, along with the last remaining hair color kit I found stashed inside my bathroom vanity. If things spiral out of control, I do own a variety of hats.

As for work, I'm playing out my time. Come Tuesday, I will be down to 30 days. Oh, I'm still putting forth effort. I do have my pride. But I'm cognizant of every workday and how they're dwindling. My boss doesn't acknowledge that I will soon be gone; it's better to let it lie. Retirement will be exactly the same as working, except I will have no schedule to adhere to.TV, here I come.I wonder how long it will be before I become a crazed closet-cleaner.

I publish a monthly department newsletter, and I've decided that this month's will be all "me", albeit subtly. I won't acknowledge that it's me, but after twenty-plus years, I deserve to give myself a send-off. I won't get a going-away party, after all. A monthly feature of the newsletter is "Do You Know This Person". I send twenty questions to the chosen victim to complete and then I write up a little story about them. People used to sometimes guess the person was me, and I said, "The person will never be me." Guess what? Yes, it will. Some of the regular features include submissions from team members, but this time they'll all be from (anonymously) me. Deal. I'm not going to get a gift or anything.

Things I've done this week:

  • I searched online for face masks and Amazon has none that can be delivered before June. Really? I could potentially be paroled by June. And forget hand sanitizer. I finally found masks on Walmart's site and I should see them in a couple of weeks. Shipping costs? Pffft. This is a pandemic! Money is no object!

  • I did find a bunch of stuff I really want on Amazon; not things that will save my life, but might save my sanity.

  • I briefly pondered getting back into songwriting, as my husband is urging me to do. If I do, I already have a song title -- "Desolation Angel" -- don't steal it.

  • I ordered groceries via Instacart. I've found that the anticipation is far better than the reality.

Things I've learned this week:

  • Listening to George Strait's Ace In The Hole Radio makes me happy. I don't even click on my other favorite stations; I just keep it on George.This confirms that I've long had excellent musical taste.

Your musical selection tonight, from the album, "Beyond The Blue Neon", one of George's best:

Friday, May 1, 2020

Telework - Week 7 - Forever?

Today is the first day of May. 2020, in case you forgot what year we're in. It seems like forever that I've been working from home, and it feels like a day. I don't know what happened to April, other than that I've gained more weight than I care to acknowledge. Let's call April the "forgotten month". 

I do know that I've had more meetings while at home than I ever had in the office -- and I hate meetings. Just when I'm getting into a work groove, I need to stop for a meeting. Meetings are a means of tricking the initiator into feeling a sense of accomplishment, but they are in actuality useless. I have to admit, I do like the personal connection, albeit via video chat. Left to my own devices, I would become a ragged hermit.

Speaking of meetings, today was our quarterly all-staff meeting, held via Microsoft Teams. Naturally, we employees had tons of questions, so this was one all-staff I was actually interested in attending. I learned that our return-to-office date is "sometime after Memorial Day". Keep movin' it boys, and I will never actually return. I've begun making a list of personal items I will need to retrieve, which will occur on a Saturday, to avoid human contact. My retirement date is tentatively June 12, so I'm thinkin' I'll never actually go back. It's okay. Not really, but I try to accept the things I cannot change.

I have a month and a half to finish out my work life. This is not how I imagined it. 

How did my week go otherwise? I, for whatever reason, am not sleeping. I've dealt with the problem, intermittently, my whole life, so I don't obsess over it, although it is annoying. On the plus side, I don't interact much with people, so it doesn't matter. I was a bit testy during another endless meeting, but that was due more to "what the hell?" than to my physical exhaustion. A funny thing happens when one is nearing the end of their career -- they realize how much useless crap they are subjected to and rebel against it.

I briefly connected with my boss via phone this afternoon, and she asked me if I had plans for the weekend. I said, "Every day is the same". It's not that I'm a gadfly, but knowing that I can't go anywhere scrapes against my nerves.I would kill to simply browse the aisles at Target.

Things I've done this week:

  • Laid awake and asked God to please let me fall asleep
  • Half-listened to talk radio.
  • Rearranged my chair configuration fifty-three times
  • Watched cable news and furiously stitched my current cross-stitch project
  • Ordered a face mask from Etsy.

Things I've learned this week:

  • SiriusXM has some new limited-time stations: George Strait, The Eagles, and Prince among them; although the Prince channel seems to only play "Manic Monday" by The Bangles. George, however, has enough hits to fill a full week without any repeats.
  • I miss my personal computer. I miss my bookmarks and I miss my in-progress novel. I'm sick of jerry-rigging this office computer to access my usual sites.

Week 8 is going to be awesome (yea). 

Stay tune. I know I will.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Telework Week 6?

Has it really been six weeks? The days all seem to run together.The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I hit the stages somewhat out of order, but I think I'm definitely in stage five now. Acceptance. Home is my new workplace. It's akin to starting a new job -- one has to learn the lay of the land, get to know one's "co-workers" and their foibles. Remember where to find coffee. Feed the cat -- oh, I guess that only happens in this workplace.

I've saved money on gas, now that gas is at its 1973 price (naturally). I haven't saved money on anything else; in fact, I've spent into oblivion and I don't even care. And that's just on groceries and vices. Clearly I don't buy anything else. But groceries are very, very important. My husband is retired and I used to shake my head at the minutia he obsessed about. I understand now. This week I ordered two tomatoes from Instacart - two. I got a whole bag of tomatoes delivered. A bag of tomatoes is not like a bag of Lay's chips. Eat 'em now or lose 'em. I despaired at first, but actually, tomato sandwiches are pretty good. My entire life now revolves around the grocery lotto. 

The weather is finally turning nice. When I last left the office, a scuttle of snow covered the ground and the wind was biting. Today it's 66 degrees and sunny and I'm cloistered indoors.Seasons come and seasons go, and no virus will change that.

Working remotely poses challenges -- the remote connection is temperamental. This week was worse than most, but I have chosen to go with the flow rather than pound my keyboard. At least I am employed. 

Things I've done this week:

  • I walked down to the mailbox every day.

Things I've learned this week:

  • I'm still fiddling with my radio choices. I hit upon a local talk show that's preferable to the drone of the syndicated radio host I was listening to before. The personalities laugh a bit too much, but they have local coronavirus news and some good song parodies.
  • My only bit of entertainment is watching the first half of Tucker Carlson before I get sleepy and turn it off; then lie awake for another hour. I could just as well watch the entire show.
  • I really need to submit my official retirement date to HR, but I haven't quite accepted it yet, nor do I want to go out this way.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Telework Week 5 - Apathy

I may never go back to the office again. I wonder if my plant is still alive. Has it really been five weeks? The days tend to run together.

Humans are such adaptable creatures. I've unwittingly settled into a routine -- wake up at 4:00 (yes), totter down to the kitchen with my cat, fix him breakfast while I simultaneously attempt to brew a pot of coffee, trip back up the stairs (with my cat), will the coffeemaker to drip faster. Smoke a couple of cigarettes, check the local news, go back downstairs and fix myself a bagel, then slump up the staircase to start work, coffee mug in hand. Hot coffee is the highlight of my day.

Like virtually all industries, the shutdown has infected my job. No one is going to the doctor, no one is having elective surgeries; thus, medical claims have dwindled to a dull ooze. The hourly employees in my department were coldheartedly informed this week they would be "furloughed" for a week (a fancy term for "poor"). No one told me directly, but I got a screen shot of the letter from a friend and it stated, "as a non-exempt employee", which was my only clue that the hammer wasn't about to drop on me.Being exempt actually has an upside! My bank account is already overdrawn, so I thanked God for small indulgences.

Who ever said working from home was a money-saver? Perhaps if one didn't have to order superfluous amounts of grocery items in the hope that something might appear on the doorstep; maybe if one didn't have to stock up on nicotine on one's rare excursions outside the house or didn't have to get liquor delivered in amounts that spared delivery fees (c'mon; you do it, too.) I used to spread out my expenses; now it's all or nothing. And, BTW, where the hell is my stimulus check?

Work-wise, I'm floundering. Mornings aren't so bad, but the dearth of work for others creates a chasm for me. I do the second claim review, and if there's no first review...

In my first couple of weeks of working at home, I relished those fifteen-minute breaks and the opportunity to escape outside for sweet clean air and a chance to stretch my cramped bones. Now my mind doesn't even register breaks -- I stay inside and keep working. It all seems like too much effort. And there's always someone about who doesn't understand the six-foot rule and I have to look like an anti-social jerk and hold back while they pass in front of me, simply to slide a key inside my mailbox and retrieve worthless direct marketing mailings (could we put a quarantine on those?).

Trying to order my life has been inordinately difficult during this time. I have no access to a scanner or even a printer, so I had to beg my insurance broker to mail me a Medicare Advantage application. My dentist office is closed and I sorely need work done before my dental insurance ceases. I'm going to be cutting it perilously close.

We were informed today that our new return-to-work date is now May 18. Guess it's time to pull the trigger and submit my retirement date to Human Resources. I guess the retirement  party is out.

Things I've done this week:

  • I ventured out to my local convenience store on Monday. I made sure to bring along my bottle of hand sanitizer and waited until no customers were lurking about. My workday friends at the store now stand behind plexiglass. I spent $200.00 I don't have to stock up on cigarettes.

  • I ordered groceries online. I was suffocating in a Microsoft Team meeting and missed my shopper's messages, so I didn't get the most vital items. 

  • I ate anything and everything that caught my eye.

Things I've learned this week:

  • I despise my chair. No configuration of pillows and quilts provide any relief for my back and legs. I went on Amazon tonight and ordered an ergonomic cushion. What's one more overdraft in the scheme of things?

  • After thirty years of working at a computer, I'm developing carpal tunnel, so I've employed my friend Barb's sock/mask. She informed me she could use it as a combination wrist rest/coronavirus mask. I located one of my husband's orphan socks and rolled it up. It's gold!

  • All those wondrous things I swore I would do in "my free time" aren't happening. I've done next to nothing. And never will.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Telework - Week 4 - Settling In

Week Three was my low point, but I'm resilient.This week I've experienced neither highs nor lows -- life's temperature has lowered to a simmer. I hate cliches like "a new normal", but it's apt. No longer is ascending the stairs to begin my work day alien. It's...normal.

I'm not saying being imprisoned inside my house is enjoyable, even though I'm a homebody at heart. A simple trip to the convenience store and human interaction seems like a dream. 

My husband and I ventured out to the supermarket Saturday -- he sorely wanted ground beef and our Shipt shopper couldn't locate any at Target. Any. Of any kind. We donned our N95 masks (yes, we own two from my husband's former job) and grabbed the hand sanitizer and motored out. The market felt like an amusement park -- thrilling new air and a crisp ambience. It was exciting! The six a.m. hour is supposedly reserved for seniors, but it clearly isn't enforced (rules; pffft). Every other person in the store had arrived early, hoping to avoid human contact, but it almost felt like an apocalyptic club.Most of us were masked, like paying bandits. We left the store with two paper bags worth (apparently) forty-two dollars each, but it wasn't the end result so much as it was the experience.Bank account be damned.

Grocery delivery is a crap shoot. I truly appreciate those who venture out in public to fill a cart for someone else, but the end result rarely matches the shopping list.It's always a surprise, almost like a casino excursion, only I always pay the house.And it's become a second job awaiting the inevitable texts: "Sorry; the store is out of microwave bacon. Do you want the fifteen-dollar Hormel?" "There is no toilet paper of any brand. Sorry." I feel compelled to reassure. "Thanks so much for checking," I reply. I've ended up with some unanticipated purchases, some good; some awful.

Work-wise, I've settled in. It probably shouldn't surprise me that many people don't communicate -- the same people were mostly uncommunicative in the office, too; but I am attuned to each email I receive as if it is woven in gold thread. The solitude I should relish has become a lonely prison.

The novelty of eating is beginning to abate (luckily for me). Maybe it's simply boring. I do worry, however, about how I will replenish my tobacco supply. States are so dumb about certain things. I can get alcohol delivered, but not cigarettes? I could probably buy weed more easily (if I was of that persuasion -- sadly I'm not). 

Things I've learned/discovered this week:

  • My husband dug out my old transistor radio -- the one I kept in my office in the nineties. Unfortunately it has the peccadillo of working for a while; then dying. I thus added the iHeart radio app to my phone and searched for some non-annoying stations. I've listened to talk radio for ages, but ever since Bill Bennett retired, his replacement is clueless and irrelevant, so I needed to find something to take its place. 
  • Did you know that many iHeart stations play the exact same songs at the exact same time? How awesome.I searched for "classic country" and located some independent stations. The one I'm currently listening to is from my home state of North Dakota, and it's not pre-programmed. I almost feel like I'm back in 1995 -- I heard "What Kind Of Fool Do You Think I Am" and was transported back to big shoulder pads and stirrup pants. Did you know that nineties country is now "classic?" I didn't.
  • Podcasts are great, but they need to do new programs more than once per week. What else do you people have to do at this time anyway?
  • Corporations really, really want us to know how much they care. Sad piano music is our cue that a very concerned corporate message is forthcoming. Look guys, nobody is leaving their house to buy anything. Unless you have a truckload of toilet paper, maybe just save your advertising dollars for our parole date. The worst is the Lincoln ad. Buying a luxury car that I can't drive anywhere is tops on my list.. And the guy delivering the vehicle doesn't even practice social distancing! Maybe rich people are immune. In fairness, the best of the lot is Kellogg's. Thanks for an ad that actually says something.
  • Microsoft Team meetings are glorified phone calls.


  • I'm still not sleeping. There is no rational explanation for it other than unacknowledged anxiety. 
  • Breaks are sometimes forgotten. I'm online; I might as well keep working, right?
  • My normal routine has been cast to the winds. I don't wash clothes on Saturday; I don't pay bills, either. What if I forget something important?

Time to dig in. This "new normal" is going to go on for a while. Adaptability is a wondrous thing, though. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

Telework Week 3 -- Drudgery and Depression

Organizing and decorating my home office no longer carries the cachet it did during weeks one and two. I'm used to the room now and like everything else in one's house, it's rarely even noticed. I have found, however, that all those special office supplies we think we can't live without are simply trinkets to collect. I use a small legal pad and a pen. Sometimes a sticky pad. That's it. And I barely use those.

In Week 3 many people's nerves are fraying. I only know this via email communications, of course. Attitudes that were once excused or ignored are now confronted. I know because work friends have forwarded me some of their email exchanges with other people. For my part, I have endeavored to remain upbeat in my correspondence, knowing that others aren't having any fun, either. I did receive one snarky response today, and I took a few minutes before deciding how to reply. (I let it go.)

Wednesday was my worst day. My system slowed to the point of complete inertia and then froze up completely several times (shut the PC off, re-log in, authenticate my login, try again; lather, rinse, repeat).I finally shut if off and walked away; did some laundry; tried to lower my blood pressure. Worse, I knew I'd have to face the same imbroglio the next day. I can't expect my IT Department to solve my problem; I think it's simply a matter of fifty million people or so gobbling up bandwidth.

Working from home has become complete drudgery. It's no longer novel; it's tedious. Telework does not bring freedom -- I rarely leave this room. I probably walked around -- no, I know I walked around -- more in the office than I do at home.

Shall we talk about depression? It may have been Tuesday night, and it was my own fault. I flipped on the TV when I lay down for the night, and as the minutes ticked by, the reports grew increasingly horrifying. I understand why cable news does that, but mitigate, people! Any rays of hope at all, folks? What I gleaned was, don't leave my house under any circumstances. If I do, it's essentially a death sentence. And maybe I've already contracted the virus -- the incubation period can be up to fourteen days.I visited my local convenience store twice in the past two weeks. Should I be drawing up a will?

What no one on TV will (or can) answer is how long this will go on. May 4, our original return-to-work date, now seems like a cruel joke. My tentative retirement date is June 12 -- will I even be able to return to the office to retrieve my personal belongings? Is this called "going out with a whimper"?

Things I've learned this week:

  • Online grocery shopping is the highlight of my week, as frustrating as it is.Why is there such a shortage of paper towels? The hell with toilet paper -- I have a cat who barfs regularly (as cats do) and paper towels are an essential item. I've begun weighing whether I really should be wasting a half-sheet of paper towel for tasks I previously whipped off a good-sized wad to tackle.Luckily I can blow my nose with toilet paper, because facial tissue is non-existent as well. I do tip my Shipt shopper well, because that's a thankless, health-endangering job. But all in all, I'd be tickled to do my own shopping.
  • I've spent all the bill money on groceries. The piper will be piping soon, but right now I need snacks.
  • There are things I'd like to order from Amazon, but I'd feel too guilty making a driver deliver my impulse buy when there are people who really need stuff, like paper towels (there aren't any, by the way; but I'm just saying.)
  • "The Office" reruns are the highlight of my week.
  • Being able to do my regular job anytime soon is a pipe dream. The whole reason I applied for the trainer position in 2003 was because processing claims all day made me want to hurl myself off a high precipice. Guess what I'm doing now.

Things I've done this week:

  • I gained probably five pounds.
  • I took a shower almost every day.
  • I downloaded a prayer app, but I keep forgetting to reference it.
  • I slept fitfully and my dreams were all disturbing.

There is always tomorrow (I say rhetorically, since tomorrow is Saturday and I won't be working). I have fits of despondence, but my fallback outlook is positivity. Raise a glass with me that Week 4 will be a revelation.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Telework - Week Two

Like me, you are probably now ensconced in your home, trying to get used to working remotely. I just completed my second week and to be frank, I'm not enamored with it.

Every year around mid-January, especially when a heavy dumping of snow is in the forecast, I fantasize about being able to stay home and not be compelled to brave the treacherous roads. "I wouldn't even need to get dressed! I could just stay in my warm jammies, flip on my computer and voila!" Granted, that would be ideal...for a day.

The reality is, yep, I don't set my alarm. I do get dressed. I stumble to the kitchen and start the coffeemaker; I eat; anything and everything I shouldn't be eating.Then I start work. The first couple of hours go fast. I'm absorbed in my every-morning tasks. Around the third hour, things begin to drag. I start to feel that now familiar twinge in my back so I shift positions, pull my foot stool out a bit farther, stretch out my legs until they start hurting, too; crank my sagging chair back up to its original height; count the minutes until morning break. Working solo is not what my job is supposed to be -- I'm a trainer, so I work with people. I solve problems; I teach. Now I do busy work. I pitch in with whatever claim needs to be processed -- competencies that thirty-one other people in my department are well qualified to do.

At nine o'clock, I don my coat and head outside to stretch my legs and my back and to breathe in nicotine-free air. I see one or two other people -- one walking her dog; another jogging past me (I wonder if I should hold my breath or just act naturally). Then I come back inside and dig into my snack stash. Over the past twelve months, I lost thirty pounds, and it was a lot of work and drudgery. Now I'm going to gain it all back in a month.

Eleven is lunch time. A half hour to stuff my face and find a different place to sit for a few minutes. One o'clock is afternoon break -- another outdoor sojourn and more snacks. 

I miss human interaction. Email does not supply instant gratification. I miss shooting the breeze. I miss toddling down to the cafeteria with Lori and making jokes about the food choices. I miss having people around me, as exasperating as they can be at times. I miss running into people from other departments in the hall and commiserating with them about our jobs.

After two weeks, though, the picture has become clearer, and I am determined to shake things up a bit. Our CEO has informed us that this whole telework thing will extend through May 4. I think it will be longer. It's time to pull myself together.

Remote work or not, I need to do the job I was hired to do. I can do something about that, and I will -- via email. I need to feel useful and not simply like someone putting in time. I can't do anything about the chair situation other than continue trying different configurations. I'm not ready to invest in a new office chair that I'll only need for two and a half months, tops.(I wonder if I'll even be back in the office in time to have a retirement party.)

Things I've managed to accomplish this week:

  • For the first time ever, I had groceries delivered. It went relatively well. Target is cheaper than the local supermarket. Just don't try to buy paper towels.
  • I ventured outside and experienced actual human contact by visiting my convenience store at five a.m. My husband and I scoped it out before going inside and managed to pick up our essentials (me: nicotine) without encountering any sickly people. My favorite store manager, Rebecca, seemed happy to see me.
  • I painted my nails.
  • MY ABSOLUTE BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT:  I got my stereo speakers hooked up to my computer. I am currently listening to SiriusXM, and lord how I've missed music!  Music is manna from heaven.

Things I haven't accomplished:

  • Being able to sleep. There are a few reasons for that -- I am in mourning (something I'm not ready to write about right now) and I also don't do well with abrupt life changes.
  • Stopping eating things that are bad for me. I'm just going to go with it for now. These are desperate times.
  • Finding a purpose; but that's about to change.


  • Don't keep cable news on all day. Watch the first fifteen minutes or scan a local news site for Corona news. Then be done with it.
  • Do inhale a hot cup of java. That first cup of the day will spark your synapses. 
  • Do walk! I'm no exercise fanatic, but the cool, clean air breathes hope into your lungs.
  • DO find a hobby. Please don't lean on Netflix as a crutch, or if you do, keep your hands busy while viewing the paltry offerings. I'm a crafter, which alleviates the total Netflix boredom.

I'm a pretty adaptable person. Sometimes it just takes me a while to figure things out. This is my new normal. I'm ready for it. 

And it will get better.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Teleworking - Week One!

I remember the days before computers existed, but that seems so much like ancient history it strains my cortexes to try to conjure the memories. I remember performing my job duties on an IBM Selectric typewriter. I remember when the only means of contacting a co-worker or a boss was by the telephone plugged into the wall. And if their line was in use, oh well; try again later. Answering machines? What? Call waiting? 

I never planned to work at home. Sure, I wanted to, but the nature of my job made that prospect impossible. Until now. Now anything goes. At least as of this week. 

This week everything we ever knew changed. I'm confined to home (unless I want to risk my life, which I don't). Monday, I brought home a hastily-configured work computer because My Old Trusty isn't exactly trustworthy and I couldn't afford to gamble that MOT would actually allow me to connect to my worksite. I spent an hour and a half unconnecting MOT and five minutes hooking up Work Computer (Why do home computers have so many moving parts and connections? Hello, PC companies!)

I'm used to working with two monitors, but alas only one of the monitors I brought home actually works. I'm not going to bitch about small annoyances; our IT Department had approximately four hundred employees to set up in three days. I'm keeping my mouth shut.

Using a strange computer, though, has its challenges. When I need to do my personal tasks, like banking, Work Computer doesn't know any of my logins. It took me far too long to locate and sign into SiriusXM, and when I did, I found that Work Computer's speaker (one speaker) is so tinny it was more annoying than soothing. I quickly signed out. So instead, I listen to cable news all day long, and hear the same stories about Coronavirus over and over; and because there is no new news, I tend to tune it out. It's simply background noise; something to mask the silence.

What have I learned about teleworking? There is good and there is not-so-good.


  • I don't need to set an alarm. I get up early and sign in when the system allows me to. 
  • I only wash my hair when I feel like it.
  • My makeup drawer has not been pulled open all week.
  • I don't have to pick out clothes in the morning. I wear the same combination of yoga pants and pullover every day.
  • No commute! When my day is over, it's over. Look! I'm home already! 
  • I'm more focused, because I have no one to chat with (see "bad").
  • I'm saving money -- no frozen dinners; no gassing up the SUV.
  • My laundry (and dishes) are done! Saturday laundry day is a relic of the past.


  • I need a better chair, seriously. My back and legs are killing me. I've tried several configurations of throw pillows and foot rests and still haven't gotten it right.
  • Diet: I'm eating too much. And the wrong foods. I keep telling myself to get it together, but my only break is when I can grab a meal from the kitchen, and we're not healthily stocked.
  • No fresh air. I will resolve this issue as soon as the weather and wind allow. I will take walks. I need to get out of this room!
  • Social interaction withdrawal. Dang, I'm not even an extrovert, but I miss talking to people! I email them and they don't answer right away, and I don't understand why they're not as needy as I am.
  • No dividing line. The workplace, at least, was a different environment.I didn't necessarily like going there, but it was different from home.

I will try to offer tips for surviving the work-at-home experience in my next post (hint: have plenty of caffeine on hand), but for now, this is where things stand with me. 

All in all, the pluses outweigh the minuses. But that's week one.  

I've got at least three more weeks to go.