Most of my adult life I have worked in office jobs where the work week runs from Monday to Friday, and office hours tended to hover around 8-to-5, with some workplaces and some positions have varying amounts of flexibility. I’ve never been a morning person, so whenever possible I try to get my “expected time to arrive at the office” no earlier that 9:30. That usually means I was expected to work later. Of course, like most tech companies, the expectation has become that a worker will be available at times outside of office hours, which is both exploitive and irritating. At my current workplace one of the ways they try to make that less annoying is to give most of us a lot of flexibility.
So, for instance, I currently have two recurring work-from-home days each week: Tuesday and Friday. On a work from home day I can sleep in a little bit, since I don’t need to commute in. It also means that as soon as I sign out and sign-off I’m already home. Yay! We also have the flexibility to call into meetings from pretty much anywhere. And since my group has a daily morning status meeting that I can fully participate in via phone while I’ve riding the bus. On good days, with the meeting goes quickly, we’re usually just wrapping up when my bus gets downtown. One more complicated days, I stay on the call while walking from the bus to the office, and sometimes for a while after I get to my desk.
But, back to the work-from-home days. When I first started having a single work-from-home day a week, my husband’s work schedule was such that I would get up, start making coffee, set up my work computer, sign in, check for urgent emails while my husband was taking his morning shower. Then I’d grab a travel mug, drive him to his workplace and hurry back to our place and settle down to work. The round trip to his workplace was less than 15 minutes, so that was like my morning coffee break. At the end of the day when I picked him up (if it wasn’t one of those days were a work emergency meant I needed to go back and keep working for a while), we could go out to dinner right away.
When his work shift moved to much earlier in the morning, that didn’t work any longer. And then when we moved, it became even less practical.
As it is, he comes home from work in the middle or late part of my work day. And since he often leaves early Friday (because he usually winds up working extra hours earlier in the week and isn’t supposed to log overtime except when told to), his return time on that day is very unpredictable. I therefore have a little game I play against myself. I start checking his location in the Find Friends app on my phone, and when I see he’s left the office, trying to keep tracking him until his bus is almost here. My goal to open the front door just before he gets to it and greet him. I consider that a touchdown and award myself 6 points when I pull it off.
But I also try to head out onto the veranda just before his bus gets to our stop (which I can see through a gap in the trees). If I see his bus pull up, I get an extra point. If I watch him stand at the corner and cross the street, I get another extra point.
This is all very silly, but particularly on stressful work days, just seeing my hubby standing out there on the corner knowing he will be home soon makes me happy.
Whether I manage to time it so that I open the door for him, when he comes in I always say something like “Hello, honey! How was your day?” and he almost always says something like, “Hang on! Let me turn off my headphones. I can’t hear you.” And I don’t mean to repeat this little routine every time—I just in that moment forget that he almost certainly has his headphones on listening to a podcast or an audiobook or music and of course he can’t hear me, because when you’re outside walking along a street or riding in a bus there is so much ambient background noise that you have to have the music turned up a ways to hear it at all.
So, Thursday was not a work from home day. But it was a day where a bunch of things went just a little bit wrong and I wound up working later than usual. Ordinarily when that happens, when I realize that I’m still in the office at a point when I might be walking in the door, I’ll call him to let him know I’m working late.
I didn’t this time. For some reason it didn’t even occur to me that I hadn’t called him until my bus was nearly home—about an hour and a half later than I usually arrive. At that juncture it seemed pointless to call, because I’d be home in just a few minutes. So I got off the bus, waited at the crosswalk, crossed the major arterial, walked up the hill, crossed the more ordinary road, and came around the corner at the driveway into the apartment parking lot and I see my husband standing at the foot of the stairs, looking expectantly my way. He smiled and turned around to go up the stairs just as I raised my hand to wave.
So I crossed the parking lot, climb the stairs, come into the house, and I can hear him talking to me, but I have my headphones on and my phone has been blasting music so I say, “Just a minute. Let me turn off the headphones.” And he starts laughing.
Once i had the headphones off he says, “That’s okay, just consider it payback for all the times you do that to me.” And then he told me how when he got home midafternoon, he put the pork roast we’d talked about making for dinner into the crockpot then took a nap. He woke up at about the time I usually get home, and he checked the Find Friends app and saw that I was still in the office. So he waiting until app showed that I was about halfway home before he started working the side dishes, and he kept monitoring my location. He took the trash out, and since the phone app had indicated I was nearly home, he’d paused at the stairs to watch for me.
I don’t have a point to any of this. I just find myself on Sunday evening, when I probably ought to be working on other things, being annoyed that the weekend is nearly over, and I decided it had been a while since I wrote a blog post that was just about our mundane life.
And there you have it.