You can’t wait tables from home. You can’t sweat pipe from home. You can’t load a truck, mix paint, swing a pick, deliver a calf, mop a floor, scrub a toilet, wash dishes, wash windows, wash cars, wash down a plane or wash out a stable. You can’t stock or bag groceries. You can’t wire a house. You can’t mend a roof or a fence. You can’t lay tile, repoint brick, hang dry wall, or install a new oven. You can’t fix a furnace, stop a leak, sweep a chimney, drive a nail, drive a cab, clean a wound, clean teeth, clean drains, make a bed, fold towels, empty the trash, empty a bedpan. You can’t cut hair, cut bait, cut cloth, or cut grass. You can’t dig a well, dig a ditch, dig for oysters or rake clams. You can’t sort mail or sort laundry. You can’t tune a car engine from home, although that day’s probably coming.
You can teach a class.
I’ve done it.
I don’t like it. I’d rather be in the classroom body and soul. I’d be in the classroom every day if I could. Not in the way grade school and high school teachers and too many adjuncts have to be. I’m lazy and I’m spoiled. But I like seeing my students. I like talking with colleagues. I like sitting in the office staring out the window, watching the world go by, and being able to feel like I’m working. I like being on the job. But the fact is I couldn’t do this job if I couldn’t work from home as much as I’m able to. Syracuse is too far away and don’t get paid enough to rent an apartment or even a cheap hotel room. But I can be there when I’m not there thanks to email and Facebook and Twitter and cell phones and Skype. If I had the app, I’d add Snapchat to my virtual teaching toolkit. This is great. This is fun. This is fortunate. This is a perk most people don’t have.
I read a couple of posts this morning that got me thinking about how lucky I have it: The Adult Snow Day Is Dying, and That’s Sad, by Jesse Singal at New York Magazine’s blog Science of Us, and Mike the Mad Biologist’s Snow Days for Adults at Mike’s place.
In my wanderings around the web, which I have the time and freedom to do even when I’m ostensibly at work and even while I’m actually working, I often get the sense that many of us who spend our large chunks of our workdays online forget that most people don’t.
They have jobs that don’t allow it, jobs that don’t require it. And many people whose main tool is a keyboard are as chained to their computer as seamstresses and tool and die makers are chained to their sewing machine and their drill press, and for all it ever varies and for all they are free to vary their routines what they see on their screens might as well be automobile chasses, circuit boards, or beer bottles needing labeling or pills needing sorting. It’s assembly line work and the people who do it probably have different ideas about working from home, the end of adult snow days, the changing nature of work, and lives lived virtually in general from college professors, journalists, software designers, lawyers, stockbrokers, graphic artists, and other white collar professionals whose jobs are made easier, more interesting, more productive, more creative, and therefore more rewarding by the the internet, even if it does mean no more adult snow days.
I don’t have anything profound to say about this right now. It’s just on my mind because I read those two posts, and because I might be working from home tomorrow. Snow’s predicted for the morning, pretty much the whole way from here to Syracuse, and since I can work from here and have not just the boss’s blessing but his command to stay put if staying put means not risking getting trapped at a rest stop in Utica, from where, by the way, I could still work, thanks to the New York State Thruway Authority’s providing of free WiFi.
I’m not working from home today though.
I’m working from Barnes & Noble.