One of the joys of working out of home (you know some of them: no need to shave everyday, T-shirts and shorts make excellent office outfits, there is no commute, there are no arguments with the boss) is that you get to decide which day of the week to goof off on. Last week I decided it would be Wednesday, the day I wouldn’t open the laptop, answer my phone or look at emails. That sounds like a holiday already, but there was more.
I would go out to lunch, I decided; I’d accompany my wife shopping, maybe even take in a movie. All of the above could be done in a single place, the modern temple of commerce and entertainment, the shopping mall.
Here’s what I expected: no traffic on the roads, no crowds in the malls, loads of tables free at the restaurant.
The traffic policeman on duty would be so bored with the lack of vehicles that he’d flag us down just for a chat and to discuss the Oscar nominations.
The restaurant manager would go down on one knee, or two, and thank us for choosing to eat at his restaurant on a non-weekend, when prices are slashed by half. At the movies, we would be able to get the technician to rewind a scene in case we didn’t get a joke or missed out on something important while the popcorn guy came around. After all, this was the middle of the week, and everybody else would be either at work or in school.
Imagination is everything, wrote Einstein; it is the preview of life’s coming attractions. But in this case, imagination was the pride that our elders told us always precedes a fall.
Either there are enough people in my city to organise traffic jams and fill up all the restaurants and movie theatres regardless of the day of the week, or everybody had decided to take the same Wednesday off.
The friendly policeman was up to his neck in traffic, the restaurant manager’s knees were being used for purposes other than falling on and thanking customers, and there were so many shows crammed into the day that we were grateful the movie was being shown in proper sequence. No looking back. And this is what I had shaved and worn trousers for? Is that how the other half lives?
We have reached a stage in our lives where it is better to work than goof off. Productivity increases when traffic jams and packed malls are the alternative.
Still, it is worth having a designated goof-off day, if only to take a look at the real world. And then decide to retreat into the fantasy world.