Job Hazards

I keep threatening that when the planets align and I again become a full-time writer, I want to have an off-site office somewhere. It would be more convenient to have an office at home, true, but when people know you’re at home you end up moving a lot of pianos.

A Dilbert cartoon on my desk calendar at work summed it up a couple of days ago. The three panels are all identical, Dilbert talking to Ratbert and Dogbert:

PANEL ONE

CAPTION: What the Work-At-Home Person Says

DILBERT: Don’t disturb me unless the house is on fire.

PANEL TWO

CAPTION: What the Rest of the Family Hears

DILBERT: I am your servant. My specialty is killing spiders.

PANEL THREE

CAPTION: What the spiders hear

DILBERT: The house is full of wounded flies.

There’s something about working at home that makes people not take you seriously. Not just family members. I had friends who would say things like “Hey, let’s go get Joe… he’s not doing anything!”

When my wife and I moved back to Ohio, we camped out with my in-laws for a time. Bless their hearts, they set up one of their spare rooms as my office because I was right in the middle of writing The Company Man, and I was on a deadline.

One day I was in that office, intently working on the book, when I became aware of a presence hovering in the doorway. I glanced up. It was my mother-in-law. I looked up.

“You know, Joe, I think I have this figured out,” she said. “You come in here and write every day, just like it was a real job.”

Well… yes. It is kind of like a real job. But I was very polite and nodded and said “Yeah,” because I considered it a breakthrough.

On the other hand, keeping a home office would be a lot more practical. And it would be a lot easier for me to get way and do Elder things, too, because after all, I’m home and not doing anything…

NP – WHLO-AM, The Bill Hall Show

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