3 Nov

The fact that I’ve been steadily employed since my first job at a Hallmark store is as much of a surprise to me as it is to anyone else. I’m the kind of person who drinks cereal instead of eating it with a spoon, and laughs when narrators say ‘Homo Erectus’ in documentaries. Not exactly the kind of stuff that makes employers jump at the chance to pay me every two weeks.

I started working for a local publishing company in 2009, and in early 2012, they were acquired by a corporation in Boston. Roughly six months after the purchase, our office was closed, and the Portland team members began telecommuting. This day is also referred to as “The exact moment I started devolving as an employee and human being.”

Dedicated working spaces no longer have meaning to me.

One of the greatest joys of working from home is getting to decide where you want to work. Gone are the days of parking in the same space, sitting at the same desk, and shivering from the air blowing from the same vent directly above my desk. Now you’ll most likely finding me sending e-mails while on the crapper, regretting the Indian food I ate last night.

E-mail skillz

E-mail skillz

Hygiene became optional.

Smelling decent is important in the work world. Nobody wants to have a conversation with someone whose breath smells like they devoured a shit sandwich at lunch. Additionally, if your armpits smell like a cross between rotten meat and the way Paris Hilton looks, you won’t be invited to Happy Hour with the gang. Now I can attend “meetings” without washing my face, brushing my teeth, or changing out of the pajamas I’ve been wearing for a week. There are some days when I could be a dead ringer for a pre-sobriety Lindsay Lohan.



My wardrobe changed.

I’m not sure my coworkers at the time realized it, but I was actually making an effort when I went to work. I wore a bra. I wore pants with zippers. I wore underwear. Every day I showed up to work in the best clothes $10 at a thrift shop could buy. Once I started working from home, I realized I didn’t need my breasts to be above my belly button, and underwear were for women who were afraid their vaginas would catch fire from rubbing against their pants. Goodbye jeans, hello yoga pants.


My interpersonal skills deteriorated.

I’ve never been accused of being smooth in social interactions, but it has gotten even worse since working from home. You don’t realize how hearing workplace chatter, or engaging in water cooler talk, really helps normalize you. The moment my roommate gets home from work I jump all over him and tell him how I was able to finish a project while Maury Povich informed someone he was not the father. Gone are the days of knowing when I should/shouldn’t say something, and in are the days when I’m telling the grocery clerk that I haven’t had sex in so long I’ve got cootchie cobwebs.

He seemed impressed by my pelvic push ups

He seemed impressed by my pelvic push ups

Truthfully, working from home is a great gig. No commute, no office politics, and you can attend important meetings in sweatpants. But as is the case with any job, there are certain unique challenges I face being by myself for a minimum of 40 hours a week.

My dream has always been to own my own business, and the self-discipline aspect of this job is great training. Sure, I’d have to relearn appropriate workplace conversation, and I’d even have to fully groom myself before taking off to battle rush hour traffic. Not such a bad tradeoff for being the ruler of my own kingdom, one who enjoys e-mailing from her porcelain throne.

63 Responses to “Telemiscommunication”

  1. PinotNinja 11/04/2013 at 8:46 am #

    My problem is that I act like I’m telecommuting except that I work in an actual office. Seriously. Right now I am pretending like my flip flops are tasteful Tory Burch flats, my black jeans are tailored black trousers, and my wrinkled really old button door is a crisp oxford. I don’t think anyone is buying what I’m selling…

    Any chance your company is hiring? I would fit right in with the corporate culture.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/06/2013 at 12:39 am #

      I love how you’re bringing the work from home look to the office. I think, if more offices let people wear sweats and flip flops, people would enjoy going to work more. If you just wear what you have with confidence, the CEO is going to start wearing crumpled button ups with you.

  2. jaklumen 11/04/2013 at 12:16 am #

    Wandered over here from Aussa’s.

    I’m on disability, actually, but I relate to quite a bit of this. I actually try to keep up on the grooming and hygiene, but I have been known to keep clothing erm… minimalistic. Sadly this often means when someone knocks at the door, I shout, “Oh shit! I’m not ready for company! Wait, wait, I need to get dressed!” so some stranger doesn’t see me in my underwears. (Sometimes, I’ll settle for just grabbing the bathrobe.)

    Part of my health issue is chronic pain. Part is bipolar mood disorder. (I refuse to be stigmatized, so I’ll say so openly.) But… that can make socialization harder than it already is. Fortunately, if I can’t sleep, I find people working the graveyard shift pretty congenial. I think some are glad of a little conversation from someone that isn’t too creepy or whacked out. A fair few know what’s going on with me health-wise and have been supportive.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:18 am #

      Being caught off guard while not being dressed is also a fear of mine. My UPS guy has seen me without a bra more times than I’d like to admit. I’m sure he doesn’t realize my breasts CAN be above my knees.

      I’m glad you speak openly about your conditions. No reason to be ashamed!

      • jaklumen 11/04/2013 at 12:43 am #

        I’m willing to bet that UPS guy has seen all that and more. Myself, I grew up around a lot of women and saw enough that I’m just not fazed by much.

        My wife (also on disability) would probably relate to a lot of this, too. She gives as good as she gets as to teasing: if I mentioned “droopy boobies” she’d remind me that I’m still part of the “hurr hurr boobies” squad despite my protests of gentility.

        Yes, we wisecrack. Both our fathers have corny senses of humor. We’d rather laugh than cry (even if we manage both), and gladly poke fun at ourselves… even the crazy bits. I hope to educate others a bit in between the jokes.

  3. rarasaur 11/03/2013 at 11:42 pm #

    Ha! This was hilarious. Just a random note, but my first job (not counting companies my parents owned)– was Hallmark. They clearly have exceptional taste. πŸ™‚

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:17 am #

      You survived Hallmark too?! We need to start a support group.

      • rarasaur 11/04/2013 at 12:21 am #

        “Survived” might be giving me too much credit. I quit by pretending to have tuberculosis.

        • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:22 am #

          HAHAHA!!! God I hope that’s true.

          • rarasaur 11/04/2013 at 12:27 am #

            Well, I tried to quit normally, but my manager started crying and I panicked. I had to think of something that she couldn’t argue with– and I just had my TB shot, so it all seemed reasonable. Then I started coughing like a crazy lady to sell it and to distract her from the fact that I’m a terrible liar. Later I heard from my friend who still worked there that they hired a professional cleaning service after I left.. “just in case”, ha! πŸ™‚

          • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:28 am #

            You win at life.

  4. Aussa Lorens 11/03/2013 at 9:58 pm #

    My coworkers are such a mix of awkward and fail that I still suffer from the same anti-social issues that you described. Since taking this job I have definitely lost my ability to interact with someone who isn’t trying to A) steal my job B) make me drink a potion so they can steal my youth or C) too bat shit crazy to try the first two.

    I’m jealous of the rest though. I’m up to 3 out of 5 days for wearing zipper-less pants to work so far…

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:16 am #

      People try to make you drink potions? Someone once told me they’d give me a potion that would make my eyesight better. Turns out it was just vodka and he wanted to have sex.

      • Aussa Lorens 11/04/2013 at 6:41 am #

        I feel like printing this comment out and hanging it somewhere.

  5. writerwendyreid 11/03/2013 at 9:47 pm #

    You crack me up girlie. Cootchie cobwebs…LMAO. Sometimes I think I’d like to work from home but then I wouldn’t be in a building full of men that I’m not related to. Nope. I can’t do it.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:15 am #

      I bet you’re the talk of the office. I can only imagine the spice you bring to it.

      • writerwendyreid 11/05/2013 at 8:37 pm #

        I work in a fridge and play with raw meat all day. And if they’re talking about me, then they’re leaving someone else alone. πŸ™‚

  6. michellestodden 11/03/2013 at 8:37 pm #

    Cootchie cobwebs. So THAT’S what I have. My Dyson can’t even help me remove those suckers.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:15 am #

      I’d love to see them do a commercial around this topic.

  7. Nichole 11/03/2013 at 6:15 pm #

    HA hahahaha!

  8. The Hook 11/03/2013 at 5:43 pm #

    Cootchie cobwebs?
    What can I say? You’re one of the best, young lady. hands down.

  9. Madame Weebles 11/03/2013 at 12:50 pm #

    Oh my lord, I laughed heartily reading this, because I do every one of these things. Sometimes I do wear a bra, though—it gets exhausting trying to walk while the girls are generating their own momentum in various directions. Sometimes I miss the social aspects of working in an office with people, talking about whatever show was on the night before, gossiping, etc. But when I get nostalgic for those days, I remember all the people who made my blood pressure rise dangerously, or all the times my upper lip threatened to freeze in a permanent sneer, and I feel much better. And if I need to talk trash about someone, or discuss last night’s episode American Horror Story: Coven, my cats are pretty good listeners .

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:14 am #

      You put on a bra? CLASSY AS FUCK.

      I agree. There are days when I think about how awesome things were, then I realize I’m out of my mind and a lot of people I worked with sucked balls.

  10. daniheart21 11/03/2013 at 11:27 am #

    wow. just wow. lol I wish… I had a job to work from home, but I can totally see what you are saying here Jen. lol meetings sweatpants… yay. Fun post.

  11. strawberryquicksand 11/03/2013 at 10:58 am #

    Hahaha thank you for the laugh. After applying my eye liner to my eybrows this morning and having to start over, I needed a laugh. Now I just have to get through the next six hours at work. Think of me in my bus drivers uniform, interracting with the general public whilst you spill breakfast cereal down your pyjama top and send emails from the shitter. πŸ™‚

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:13 am #

      You had eyeliner on your eyebrows? Did you at least give them a cat eye?

      • strawberryquicksand 11/04/2013 at 2:01 am #

        sorry.. I mean lip liner to my eyebrows!!!!!!!!! See what I mean? What a day I’ve had! hehe. Red eyebrows. Erase and start again… on both the makeup front and the typing front!

  12. The Bumble Files 11/03/2013 at 9:37 am #

    Jen, I bet your conversation with the store clerk was the highlight of his day! I wouldn’t miss the office politics. That must be a relief.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:13 am #

      Office politics are the worst, especially because I’m terrible at them.

      “Kiss this baby if you want a promotion.”

      “That baby is ugly. I’d rather be poor.”

  13. She's a Maineiac 11/03/2013 at 9:15 am #

    You’ve sold me!

    And I wear a bath robe all day now and I don’t even work from home. Is this a bad sign?

    • She's a Maineiac 11/03/2013 at 9:15 am #

      and thanks for making me laugh again this weekend. You officially rule.

      • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:12 am #

        Just paying you back for all the times you’ve made me laugh.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:12 am #

      Wearing a bath robe is a good sign. It signifies that YOU LIVE BY YOUR OWN RULES. At least that’s what I tell my postal guy when he looks at me with judgement in his eyes.

  14. javaj240 11/03/2013 at 9:07 am #

    The only thing that forces me to be semi- human anymore is that I must put on clothes, shower, and interact with other members of the human race face-to-face on a somewhat regular basis. I give you credit, I would NOT have the attention span to successfully work from home. In fact, I am, right this second, writing this comment instead of doing the 100 other things that I should be doing!

    I am very happy that we are rowmies for NaBloPoMo — I think that you’ll keep me honest!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:11 am #

      I’m happy we’re rowmies too! I know we’ve floated around each other for quite some time on WordPress.

      And, yes, it was hard at first to stay focused. Eventually the deadlines approach and you realize you do still need to do work. After awhile, you forget what it’s like to go into an actual office.

      • javaj240 11/04/2013 at 3:00 am #

        Agreed on the “float[ing] around each other thing”!

        The older I become, the more I think that I would make an excellent agoraphobic. (Yes, I fear agoras — thankfully I don’t live in Ancient Greece!)

  15. elinwaldal 11/03/2013 at 9:04 am #

    I work from home too. Totally get it, there are times I startle when catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:10 am #

      If by “startled” you mean “I wonder how I got here, and if there’s rehab for people who are addicted to laziness” then yes…I am also startled.

  16. List of X 11/03/2013 at 7:51 am #

    I work from home twice a week, so at least three times a week I do the full circle of devolving into a slob, then evolving back into a more or less professionally looking employee. This might be even more nerve-wracking than trying to keep the professional appearance through the whole week.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:08 am #

      This is like those people who gain and lose weight all the time. You going/not going to work is probably very hard on your body. Please don’t die.

  17. Edee Lemonier 11/03/2013 at 7:08 am #

    Shit! Oh no you di-in’t! lol. Zombie apocalypse may be upon us and it’s my fault – pretty sure I woke the dead laughing!

  18. overitblogdotcom 11/03/2013 at 6:56 am #

    My goal is to work from home as a medical transcriptionist once I finish my MOA class,,,they key is finding a place who will actually employee me,,,,sigh

  19. Carrie Rubin 11/03/2013 at 6:54 am #

    I’ve loved my recent opportunity to work from home, but I clearly have a thing or two to learn from you. I’m all made up by the time I drop the kids off at school, granted in jeans rather than slacks. Guess I spent too many years getting ready for work. I haven’t adjusted to my hiatus yet.

    BTW, love that you share Kegel stories with your checkout clerk… πŸ˜‰

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:07 am #

      Wait, you still got dressed up, and went about your day like a normal person? YOU ARE SO FANCY.

  20. Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher 11/03/2013 at 6:34 am #

    The funny thing is – I HATED working from home. Or maybe it was the job I was doing…but I hated being cooped up in my house all day long with out other people to talk to occasionally. I am one of the rare few who likes going to work – but I also get to dress as I want and listen to music…so it’s much like working from home but without having to feel compelled to clean anything. I know, I’m a weirdo.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:06 am #

      I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed going to work until I started working from home. It is nice to be able to take a nap at lunch, or have something cooking while I’m sending e-mails, but I do miss the banter.

  21. omtatjuan 11/03/2013 at 6:04 am #

    Very good title.. Where I work, The Largest Telecommunication Company In The World. They have a slogan “Rethink Possible” We changed it to “rethink improbable!”

  22. speaker7 11/03/2013 at 5:42 am #

    I so wish I could go to work in sweatpants. I should have become a gym teacher rather than a librarian.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:00 am #

      Do you get to wear those awesome librarian khakis that give you a conservative camel toe, or is that just the people here?

  23. NotAPunkRocker 11/03/2013 at 5:17 am #

    I only telework two days a week, but I can relate to a lot of this. Laptop, bed, pajamas. All set. Conference calls are my favorite though, considering that will be the time my cats decide to jump on me and start meowing for no apparent reason.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/04/2013 at 12:00 am #

      The moment I get a call my neighbor starts cussing, his dog starts barking, or the UPS guy shows up at my door. The rest of the day I could be dead in a bathtub and nobody would know the difference.


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