A day in the life of a remote worker
Bojan Amon / / Customer Experience
Bojan Amon / / Customer Experience
Twenty minutes after opening my eyes, I give in to the pressure of peristalsis and carefully make my way to the ceramic throne in the upstairs bathroom. I balance the relaxation in the lower half of my body with tension in the upper half: I look at my phone to check the “corona vs. humanity” scoreboard. I relieve my stress by sitting a little longer.
Feeling much lighter, I make the bold decision to perform the element of a morning run. In order to avoid all doubt and a potential fine by masked law enforcement, I reread the decree on restricted movement. After the third reading, I still don’t know if I can only run around the house and what the protocol is if I meet another runner. I set off anyway—if I have to flee, the forest isn’t far off.
Infused by endorphins, I carry out my hygiene ritual. I carefully spray the sanitizer on all key points of the body—even there. If I happen to end up in intensive care, I don’t know where all those tubes are going to go, so I’d better be prepared.
The feeding ritual known as breakfast. The classic paradox of choice: we filled the fridge as full as we could in the heat of battle. I waver between healthy avocado and eggs and equally healthy fruit. But I bow to habit and in two minutes I’m already whittling away at the salami. Maybe for the last time.
I start filtering my e-mail. If they aren’t from my coworkers, they’re promotional. Everyone’s trying to sell me something I desperately need (which up until now I have mysteriously not realized) for a successful, replete, and healthy life at home. Going by the contents and quantity of these e-mails, we’re never going to live outside of quarantine again.
Virtual coffee with coworkers. These (up until now) beautiful, colorful, playful, and unique people are reduced to windows measuring 5 × 5 cm. No one’s in a tie. In fact, it seems as if we men are having a beard-growing contest and the women a messy hair one. The technology that is supposed to ensure uninterrupted work, of course, does not fulfill its promise: a coworker’s voice catches as if stuttering, another one’s image freezes in the middle of a yawn (we count fillings), and someone else has either a wild animal or an equally untamed partner in the background. Altogether, it’s reminiscent of a digital rendering of an episode of ‘Allo ‘Allo!
I get started on work tasks in order of priority. After five minutes I blow up and turn off every single notification, beep, and alert of all kinds, because otherwise I won’t get anything done. For the most part, work goes on just like before: typing, clicking, and staring, with earbuds (= ear fillings) in my ears. One thing’s missing: meetings. I can hardly believe I’m writing this, but I miss meetings. You know, that ritual where people relieve their loneliness or treat themselves to listening to their own voices.
As a prisoner at Dob, I’m really looking forward to my daily walk. I head out to the store. I go inside, and I get the feeling that I’m in an operating room: neon lights glare in my eyes and the shopkeepers are in masks, gowns, and Crocs. We customers look at each other cautiously. Everyone’s thinking, “There he is, coronaman, he’s a goner” about each other. I’ve never seen people line up with such discipline and politeness. Except for the gent whose bronze skin tone has me entirely convinced that corona has nothing on him. In a dialect further muddled by booze, he asks his cell phone what else to bring. His wife is probably on the other end. I think that if he’s already weaving like Bojan Križaj in his better days, the lady must be really soused. I toss candy and chips into my basket. I tell myself that we’re not going to see any beaches up close this year, so it doesn’t matter if my waist sports a fatty bulge instead of a six pack.
11:30 am – 1:30 pm
I carry on with my activities. Typing, typing, typing. My efficiency isn’t suffering so far; my kid’s studying in his room, and my wife’s typing in hers. We’re all in the same house, but at the same time we’re all digitally somewhere else. At 12:30 I have an appointment scheduled for a video conference without a link. I call the organizer, who doesn’t answer. I get an SMS with a link. I send this to my e-mail. I click on it and notice that I’m alone. They’re all running late. Another SMS: we’re meeting on Zoom instead of Teams. I respond to the right link, and everyone’s present, although not quite accounted for. One person decided that his ceiling at home was a masterpiece that we all just had to have a great view of.
Lunch. Fortunately, hunger is a recurring phenomenon, and so despite the apocalyptic atmosphere, I know that this won’t be my last meal. I try to compensate for my unhealthy breakfast with a more artery-friendly meal. I chew on my lettuce and discover that I suddenly have a lot in common with the guinea pig: we’re both in a cage, chewing on vegetables, letting ourselves be petted, and squealing here and there to go out.
I call my mom, who’s been retired forever and is, in her words, “close to the exit.” Brightly, she asks me if I’ve heard how many 80-year-olds died last March. She adds that it’s perfectly normal for such old people to bite the dust, and that she doesn’t want her departure to be a big fuss. We’re going to save big on her funeral.
Typing, typing, typing, and staring at the screen. Even Quasimodo himself would be proud of my now violently bent posture. I make the last call standing up because sitting has become unbearable.
I go for a walk. I step outside and see my neighbor. At first glance he looks like he’s been in quarantine since January. 2019. The usual chat about the weather doesn’t happen, because we jump right to corona. He says there’s nothing new under the sun; he’s seen it all before. I look at him one more time and decide that I believe him. I walk off along a nearby footpath, where I run into two geriatric types with masks and ski poles. The recent snow has apparently awakened the sleeping Stenmark in people. I come home and change from my comfortable tracksuit into even more comfortable pajamas. My wife asks me why I’m already in my pajamas at 5:30 pm. “Well, where can I go?” I ask her and stare at the big screen.