One of the huge blessings in this life that God has given me is a job that challenges my mind, and pays enough for our family to live comfortably. Because my work involves connecting remotely to servers I will never see, it doesnâ€™t really matter where I do my work; for this reason, I am permitted to work from home quite often.
When I was employed by another company, doing a similar job, I used to work four days a week from home, only going â€˜into the cityâ€™ once a week. If something prevented me from doing this, it might be a couple of weeks between visits to my office. Over time, this caused me to avoid projects on which I would need to collaborate with other employees, and ultimately that practice reduced my value to the company. In the Fall of 2002, I was laid off, and did not find regular work for another seventeen months.
When it began to be possible to work from home in this job, I was determined to be more careful. I make sure to go in to the office whenever there is any meeting that requires my attendance, and I almost never work more than three days a week from home.
Not my actual office ‘in the city’.
I work in a team of four, and we mostly each have our own responsibilities, few of which overlap. Still, the days Iâ€™m in the office are often festive â€“ we congregate in the corridor for impromptu team meetings, and there is much banter and wit exchanged. We play jokes on each other, and laugh together about the latest corporate buzz-words and propaganda. Upper-level managers, visiting our corner on days when weâ€™re in full swing, often walk away shaking their heads in bemusement.
Today was a particularly good day, even though it started out quite badly. I woke before my alarm (a fate nearly worse than death) with an allergy attack, and spent the extra time paying bills. I packed my own lunch, and it wasnâ€™t as generous as Kathy usually provides (I often eat all three meals away from home on my commute days). I forgot my allergy meds at home, and rushed back to get them, nearly missing my train.
Not my actual commuter train, but very close.
Arriving at work, I fretted about the size my lunch. â€œWill it be enough to forestall the mid-afternoon munchies?â€ I wondered. â€œI donâ€™t think so,â€ I answered myself gloomily. I’m not a major source of encouragement in my life.
Several weeks ago, I scraped the last morsels from my secret jar of Nutella (the one that I kept discreetly stashed in my desk drawer) and the last of the Christmas chocolates was long ago devoured. A sad feeling welled up briefly as I sat, contemplating an afternoon barren of chocolate. I pondered the burning question of the ages: â€œIs life worth living without Nutella?â€
Setting my face like Play-doh ™ against such maunderings, I turned to my work. It wasnâ€™t until lunchtime, when I needed some salt for my lunch, that I opened my desk drawer.
There, gleaming in the sickly fluorescent lights, was a brand-new, un-opened jar of Nutella! The rich auburn brown of my favorite hazelnut spread was clearly visible through the translucent jar, all the way to the top. I grabbed for it, afraid it might be a holographic trick, but its solid heft reassured my tight grasp … it was real!
â€œA jar of Nutella, in my desk drawer,â€ I exulted, loudly enough to bring my co-workers out of their cubes. â€œWhich of you did this wonderful thing?â€
Not my actual Nutella jar.
Guilty looks abounded, but my benefactor chose to remain anonymous. â€œMaybe Eric brought it up,â€ hypothesized one co-worker, innocently. (Eric, when he chooses to reward us, usually brings donuts, and never secretly.)
There was only one thing to do, truly the only thing that can be done with a new jar of Nutella: I broached the foil seal and dove in with a spoon.
Even now, riding home on the train, the unexpected gift brings a smile to my face. It is true that I prefer to work from home on the days that I can, enjoying my family and a very short commute, but working in the city has its charm: my faithful Nutella jar, waiting patiently in that desk drawer.