Adjusting to the lockdown has been difficult and I thought that maybe keeping a detailed diary of one day might give me perspective.
8:45am – Wake up on the couch. Fell asleep watching a late-night horror show. Or maybe it was the news. I can’t be sure. The couch is downstairs and the office is upstairs just down the hall from the bedroom so this is going to double my commute time on a day when I’m already running late.
8:50am – Meet up with the wife to dispense today’s ration of toilet paper. We each put our key into the dual-lock cabinet, remove a roll of toilet paper and count off squares. We replace the roll, re-lock the cabinet and head off to separate bathrooms. She gets twice as much as I do and I suspect she’s overstating the #1 portion of her allotment, but know better than to question her about it.
8:55am – I already know I will be late for my 9am meeting so I brush my teeth and take a micro-shower. It’s a video meeting so I brush my hair and put on a decent shirt. I’ll be sitting and invisible from the waist down so I omit the pants, socks and shoes to save time.
9:04am – Log into the computer. Respond to the multi-factor on the phone. Log into the VPN. Respond to the multi-factor on the phone. Log into the calendar. Respond to the multi-factor on the phone. Click the meeting planner and log into the meeting on Zoom.
9:10am – I’m finally online! Ten minutes late but I’m here. The meeting is already breaking up due to low attendance so I get 20 minutes back. I seriously consider putting some pants on.
9:11am – Boss calls to find out why I missed the meeting. I explain why I was late and suggest that by ending early it was the meeting that missed me, not the other way around. She seems reluctant but ultimately accepts this explanation. After we hang up I recall reaching across my desk to retrieve some notes and wonder whether my waistline ever became visible in the chat. I seriously consider putting some pants on.
9:15am – I am called into an urgent meeting that lasts until lunch time. The company has mandated a 100% remote work policy and is brainstorming ways to be more productive. I run the numbers in my head to see how much time we could save if everyone went pantsless. It is a surprisingly high number but I decide against suggesting it. Eventually we decide the matter requires further investigation and set aside an entire day later in the week to meet and discuss how to be more productive.
Noon – Because I spent the morning with 30 other people trying to to figure out how to improve productivity, I am woefully behind on the day’s assigned tasks, so I decide to skip lunch and get some actual work done. It occurs to me that if I stopped for lunch I could have used some of that time to put some pants on.
12:10pm – Most of the 30 people from the call this morning are also working through lunch and my chat window fills up with requests for assistance from several of them. Since I am “the security guy” and have specialized skills, most of these other projects would stall without immediate help so I drop what I’m doing and try to respond to as many people as I can. This generates several “Thank You!” emails with copies to my boss. Recognition is always nice, but I have a chuckle wondering whether any of these people would recognize me with my pants on.
2:55pm – I finally clear the queue of all the help requests. Having skipped both breakfast and lunch I’m feeling a bit low-blood-sugar and eat a protein bar. The sugar rush hits me and the last cogent thought I have before passing out is a mental image of two paramedics wrestling me pantsless onto a gurney. In the fog of fading consciousness I am unsure if I am just imagining the paramedics or it is really happening. I resolve to put some pants on if I wake up.
3:20pm – I come to in time to take a comfort break before my 3:30pm meeting. I grab the ration of toilet paper off my desk and head down the hall. Along the way I notice that my toilet paper ration looks suspiciously light compared to this morning. I have for the last week resolved to keep my daily toilet paper ration on my person at all times, but for that I need pockets. I seriously consider putting some pants on.
3:30pm – Meeting convenes. This is a weekly status meeting for one of our client project teams and nobody has progress to report since anyone who was tasked to do work has been in the Productivity Improvement meetings. When it is my turn and I report no progress, the project manager asks with undisguised annoyance “well, what have you been doing?”
“I passed out earlier today from a combination of starvation and a nasty arctic draft,” I reply, certain this will attest to my extraordinary dedication. He thinks I’m joking. I seriously consider putting some pants on.
Before adjourning we resolve to meet daily until progress is made. “Why not make it hourly,” comes an anonymous grumble over the phone line.
The Project Manager yells back “Don’t tempt me!” and adjourns the meeting.
4:00pm – I seriously consider putting some pants on but now is my chance to get some actual work done if I stay at my desk. I manage to complete an entire hour of uninterrupted work.
5:00pm – Just as I’m about to wrap up for the day my boss calls to congratulate me on the “Thank You!” notes from earlier in the day. “These are great,” she says, “but I’m concerned about your overall productivity. What did you get done today?”
She means my actual assigned tasks and not the help I provided to others. “Well, I got one solid hour of work in on my task list today,” I said with more than a little pride of accomplishment.
“Will you be billing us for that hour or the whole day, then?” she asks. “Wait, don’t answer that. Just please try to get your productivity up. There’s talk of increasing our Productivity Improvement meetings from weekly to daily until we have some solutions and can start cranking out work again.”
“Why not make it hourly?” I ask, forgetting to hit MUTE first.
“Don’t tempt me!” she yells back.
“Hey, I’m productive,” I retort. “I’ve been sidetracked on ad-hoc tasks all day but they are vitally important for the people I helped – hence the Thank You notes. Seriously, I’ve been so slammed all day that I haven’t had time to get dressed yet.” Again, I believe this claim will attest to my extraordinary dedication. Again I am wrong.
She can see I’m wearing a dress shirt and I can see the wheels turning in her head figuring out what “not dressed” means in this context, at which point I realize I’ve over-shared.
“Good talk,” I say. “I’ll get those tasks done starting tomorrow. Bye!” and I hang up.
5:30 – I can’t believe I just hung up on my boss but then it’s probably better than having continued that particular conversation. I seriously consider putting some pants on but it’s almost dinner time. I change into my pajamas instead and head downstairs.
“You really should try to change out of your jammies and into some regular clothes when you work from home,” says my wife in lieu of a greeting. “Studies say you get more done that way.”
She’s recently unpacked her summer clothes and is looking good in a pair of shorts and a cute summertime top. I seriously consider taking my pajama pants off.
“Before you start on dinner, we need to talk about taxes,” she continues without missing a beat. “Robert’s got a birthday coming up and there’s a video on the Internet you need to see. It explains how you can use a blender and grass clippings to make toilet paper. We have a grass catcher for the mower, right?”
9:30pm – Dinner’s over. The dishes are done and the garbage taken out. The wife has gone to bed and I’m sitting alone on the couch watching a late-night horror show. Or maybe it is the news. I can’t be sure.