1.31.2008

House broken

When you work at home, your house is your co-worker. And, like co-workers everywhere, sometimes it'll turn on you.

You'll be working along, trying to hit some deadline, when the house will offer some minor distraction or major catastrophe. Next thing you know, the work day's shot. You've accomplished nothing. The house wins again.

Houses apparently are capable of gobbling up possessions. No matter how neat and austere your home, it's full of hiding places. And, inevitably, the thing you need the most will be the one that's gone missing.

A silly example: At our house, we have (conservative estimate) 72 sets of nail clippers. So how come when I get a hangnail, all of them have disappeared? The house has swallowed them, that's why. I stumble around, the offending fingernail held high, searching for the clippers. I swear I can hear the house cackling maniacally while my work hours disappear.

Office supplies should stay put. We keep them in a central location and we use them frequently. But invariably a particular item will disappear the minute we need it. The household has pilfered it, just like those co-workers at regular offices, the ones who are too lazy to round up their own supplies.

This is particularly true in households with children. The children are unwitting accomplices to the house's evil ways. They think nothing of walking off with pens and envelopes and stamps the at-home worker will desperately need the next day. I don't care how many paper clips you buy, you'll have none when you need them, particularly if your children have discovered magnets.

I spend most of my work day at a computer, the house blissfully silent because my two sons are in school. But occasionally the house will emit a funny noise. Water running somewhere.
Creaking floorboards. The sigh of old masonry as it settles.

Next thing I know, I'm wandering around, trying to identify the cause of the noise. And God help me if I find the source. Because that usually means I've got a household repair to do, one that will eat up my day while the work piles up.

Here's an example: I'm at my desk, dutifully writing, when I hear water singing in the pipes. Never a good sign. Up I jump to hustle around the house, checking the faucets, the toilets, the tubs. No water, water anywhere.

I shrug and return to my desk and try to concentrate on my work. But I can still hear water running. Maybe it's coming from outside. I search for my shoes (the house having hidden one of them), get them on and go out in the yard. Check all the sprinkler valves. They're off. Scratching my head, I make a circuit of the house, hunting the outdoor faucets. Sure enough, one has developed a sudden leak. Water is spraying out around the edge of a large nut that holds the faucet together.

OK, this is the source of the noise. But what to do about it? Surely, I just need to tighten that nut. Leak will stop, noise will vanish. Problem solved.

My work completely forgotten now, I go to the garage and rummage through the toolbox until I find my (carefully hidden) crescent wrench. Then it's back outside.

I squat in front of the faucet, adjust the wrench to the nut. One quick half-turn and the problem should be fixed. I barely touch the nut with the wrench when (you guessed it) the faucet explodes apart. Water sprays over me with the same force as a firehose.

I scream and dance backward to avoid the cold stream. Then it's out to the street to shut off the water, into the house to change clothes and off to the hardware store to buy a replacement faucet. By the time the repair is made, the sun is setting. And my work still remains unfinished on my desk.

What's the answer to house-as-evil-co-worker? I don't know. It's not like I can complain to my boss or request a transfer.

Maybe I'll buy some earplugs to block out the house's interference. Several sets. Because you know they'll turn up missing.

2 comments:

Cary Wadell said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hal Johnson said...

Whew. And to think, for all of these years I thought that kind of stuff only happened to me.