The hardest part is getting up in the morning. Especially when you've somehow gotten yourself trapped in this weird website that calls itself a collaboratively filtered data base. I don't even know what that means. Maybe that's why I keep coming back; thinking that somehow it will tell me what that means. I guess I'm expecting it to start speaking through my sound card or something, 'cause reading the words here ain't telling me any more than what I already didn't know.

After finally getting up in the morning, it became harder and harder to actually get dressed. At first, I'd shower, shave and put on some nice clothes. Then I began just putting on shorts and a T-shirt. The showers were the next to go. . . . I haven't shaved in weeks.

I ran into one of my clients at the mall the other day and we were chit chatting. She said, "I guess it's great working from home, isn't it? I mean, you can just sit around and make phone calls in your underwear?"

I said, "Honey, it's gotten to the point that if I'm talking to you on the phone, you're damn lucky if I even have underwear on." That scared her a little bit, I think.

But I still manage to drag myself down to my little home office at some point before noon, where I had ever so neatly put up filing cabinets and shelves and arranged all the nice office furniture. I put the carpet down myself (don't ever try that!) and painted the walls with two coats of neutral, work-related, non-threatening, off-white paint. I put up all my awards (from back when I used to actually work) and pictures and a calendar on the wall. I put two chairs facing my desk where clients could sit as we solved their financial problems. I even bought a little crock pot in which to cook potpourri so it would smell nice in here.

Now it only smells like smoldering nodes. During the day, I log-off and make a couple of phone calls. I might even go put on some clothes and drive to see a client. But it's not usually more than an hour 'til I'm back in my shorts, diving back into the congenitally flittered dogma base, or whatever it is.

(Note to self: /msg Nate or dem bones
and ask them what the fuck this place is.
Yeah, like they know any more than I do.
Forget note to self.)

In the evenings, my family sits upstairs, eating dinner or watching TV, and I say, "I've got to go downstairs and do some work." Work. That's funny.

You folks who get paid by an employer to sit at some job and get on here and waste your whole day are just screwing that employer. And I know who you are and where you work and I also know your immediate supervisor's name. I'm going to be cool for now.

But folks like me who work for themselves, out of their homes, we're the ones really getting hosed here. I don't know what this has cost me so far. Has it made me a better communicator so that when I actually do see a client, I'm better prepared? Does the esoteric smatterings of knowledge I gain here (and who even knows if it's correct?) make me a more well-rounded guy? Does trying to put up with the idiots on here make me more tolerant?

Bottom line? You are getting paid to do this. I'm not. That call to your employer is now on my speed dial, and the next time you post anything except a write-up which either amuses, entertains, or enlightens me while you're at your so-called job:

Well, Mr. Dithers may just want a minute of your time, soon afterwards....

UPDATE: moJoe was fired from his job he mentioned in a long-gone writeup that used to reside below, soon after these writeups were posted. moJoe then became a stranger to this website due to a lack of a free speedy connection. Coincidence? You decide.

Working at home is the next best thing to not working at all. Imagine -- wake up when you feel like it, exercise to your heart's content (if you're that kind of person), eat breakfast at your own pace, and work in your underwear, whether sober, drunk, or stoned out of your freaking gourd (or any manner of state of mind). There are plenty of legitimate work at home professions; some employers will gladly allow their most fortunate employees to "telecommute." However, any time you ever see an advertisement in the classifieds that says "Work at home," you can pretty much be 99.99(repeating)% sure that it's a total scam. Most work at home schemes involve multi-level marketing, which is essentially a type of pyramid scheme with a cheesy product, which supposedly makes it "legal." Others involve medical billing or transcription -- like any doctor is going to just let some jackass do their medical billing with no experience whatsoever.

I don't know about you, but here in Colorado, I see "Work at home" signs posted all over the place. They have become so frequent that a grassroots group called "CAUSS" has been formed to combat them. CAUSS stands for "Citizens against ugly street spam." Unfortunately, they usually don't remove "Work at home" signs. Instead, they staple a whiny little advertisement for themselves on top of the sign. It usually reads "This is litter! Please remove it!" and then has an URL to their website. I can understand what they're trying to do; their goal is to get people to take the initiative to remove the signs themselves. But on the other hand, I think they'd be more likely to recruit people by simply tearing the signs down en masse. Passersby will watch with interest, and may even ask questions.

I have taken to removing these signs whenever it is physically possible. Some of them are placed so high on lamp posts or telephone poles that it is impossible to remove them without a ladder -- but the clear majority are within reach. Many of the signs are printed on corrugated plastic, so one can assume that they cost some money to make. Considering this form of advertisement is illegal, it is your right, nay, your civic duty to remove them at every opportunity.

If anything, it's a good excuse to get some exercise. Go out, take a walk, and try to remove as many signs as possible. It might be a good idea to carry a baseball bat, or a stun gun, or a steak knife, in the unlikely event that someone catches you removing the sign they are responsible for placing. Anyone who answers these ads is either a)a sucker, b)desperate, or c)both. Wouldn't it make you feel good to realize you are saving some poor, hopeless, unemployed single mother a couple of bucks? People are so desperate to make any money that they will gladly fork over tens to hundreds of dollars to an "opportunity" that seems too good to be true. Often, one's "too good to be true" meter gets desensitized by desperation.

I really, really hate to admit this, but I've let sheer desperation get the best of myself on two fucking occasions, TWO FUCKING OCCASIONS, after losing two different jobs. I consider myself to be a pretty intelligent person (in some ways, at least), but I let my despondent, pathetic hope get the best of me. Now, it makes me feel pretty good to tear these signs down, and to watch the people in traffic gawk at me, wondering what the hell it is I'm doing.

See also: Priority One Safety, Medical Billing. Do a search on for "work at home" for more information.

So, you're thinking of becoming self-employed, some kind of knowledge worker, just you and a phone and a net connection. Or your employer is offering to save themselves the cash they spend renting your cubicle and parking space, and let you telecommute instead, hey, with a free entry-level PC thrown in. So is it something you really want to do?

Obviously the individual circumstances will vary - if you're still working for The Man, is it a matter of set hours, or set tasks and deadlines? Who are you going to have to deal with? If self-employed, would you be in front of the screen all day or in and out? Here are a few things that you might well want to give some thought to - pros first:

  • Manage your own time. Time off when you feel you need it. Want to fit your work around E2/Buffy/live Tour de France coverage? Just do it. Would rather work at midnight than 9 am? You may well be able to arrange that too.
  • No more commuting. Say goodbye to hours in traffic jams, drafty bus stops, packed trains. Get up two minutes before you need to start work. Don't pump exhaust fumes into the atmosphere.
  • Wear what you like. (but see DannyE's wu above for cautionary notes).
  • Choose your own coffee. Sex and drugs and rock and roll during working hours.
The cons:
  • Self-discipline. The biggie. So how well do you work with nobody looking over your shoulder? Can you ignore the siren call of just another node before you get around to starting? You're going to need to.
  • Privacy. In a way, you're opening your home life up to the outside world. You'll be dealing with bosses or clients from your bedroom. Is that going to stop you from separating work from real life? OK, the company's human resources people want you to be a wholly integrated part of the company, with their Mission Statement at the heart of your lifestyle, but do you? Are you going to be able to switch off? Are you going to be able to sit at the computer and play Civ III in the evening without feeling as though you're skiving off work? Would it suit you to be sort of at work all the time?
  • Companionship. OK, perhaps you're a sociopath anyway; perhaps you can only communicate through electronic media. But otherwise, how is this going to affect the number of people you actually deal with face to face during the day, and how is that going to affect you?
  • Paying your own utility bills. Maybe the company will give you a helping hand, or the taxman will let you deduct the expenses, but you are going to need to heat and light your working space during hours you'd otherwise be in an office that somebody else is paying for. Not to mention paying for your own stationery and cleaning your own office floor.
  • Sharing the space. If you are a sociopathic geek who lives alone and doesn't want to share any space anyway, no problem. But is your life going to stay that way? Can you keep significant others, parents, children, pets out of your hair while you're trying to work? How will being present but unavailable affect your relationships with them? What's it going to be like if friends and relations visit?

Albert Herring lives and works as a translator in self-employed partnership with his wife in a modest house (subject to clients paying us enough to be able to pay the rent) with two small children (and some bigger ones sometimes) and three cats who like sitting on his hands while he types. He has all the self-discipline and time management skills of a small piece of dyspraxic putty, and is habitually to be found noding ten minutes before a deadline is due and/or working fitfully at 2 am. Let his story be a lesson to you in quite a lot of ways. Look before you leap.

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