“Your hygiene has really become subpar.”
When you first start working from home, you take the advice of people who have done so before you:
a) Wake up early. Just because work doesn’t start until 10:00 a.m. doesn’t mean you should sleep until 9:55 a.m. You have lots of important things to do! Such as…
b) Shower. Start every day with a shower, just like you would if you were going off to work in the real world where it matters how you smell. This will come in handy when you…
c) Get out of the house. Go buy a coffee and some breakfast. Walk the dog. Go to the gym. Whatever you do, just make sure you get out of the house before sitting down at your computer to start the workday. This is paramount. Outside there are magical forces like fresh air and sunshine, which instantly rouse you from your lingering slumber and prepare you for the day ahead. Consider yourself a reporter entrenched in the war-torn region of Work From Home and fresh air and sunshine are your weapons in the ongoing battle against apathy. YOU ARE NOTHING WITHOUT THEM. (Sir, yes sir!)
So for the first few weeks you heed the warnings, partly because it seems like logical advice but partly because you are secretly terrified of working from home. For years, the workplace has been a person’s sole defense against dying in their home and not being found for weeks. Invariably, when someone has slipped in the shower, knocked themselves unconscious, and tragically drowned in an inch of water only to be found five days later after neighbors complained of a funny odor, officials always say the same thing: She worked from home. No one knew she was missing.
Everything goes smoothly until the first time you do some heavy drinking on a work night. It was Thursday, you got wrapped up in the moment, and that third bottle of wine came out of nowhere. The following morning, your alarm goes off at the normal time and as you attempt to rouse yourself from bed it hits you: You’re nauseous, your head hurts, the rooms feels unsteady and there’s pizza crust on the floor. You’re not ready to face this. AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO. Technically, all you are responsible for is being at your desk by 10:00 a.m. And even then no one will know if you’re not there at 10:00 a.m. Who’s to say there wasn’t an electrical emergency and your computer and phone shut off? Or you were mugged while out getting your morning coffee? Anything it possible! Basically, once you let go of the fear of disappointing yourself, all bets are off. And since you don’t even remember eating pizza last night, you figure, “This is for the best.”
And it is. It really is. You wake up at 10:15 a.m., stumble to your desk, and begin work. You are drunk – not on last night’s Malbec, but on power. Suddenly, you’re calling all the shots. Routine? Schedule? Structure? Those words are for people who can’t hack the limitless of possibility, people of less gumption than you. Of course you won’t do this every day. Fresh air and sunshine are important. You love your morning coffee. This is just a little treat which you will use responsibly.
For the next three months, you wake up five minutes before the start of work. You’ve stocked up on coffee beans and bought a top-of-the-line home brewing machine. Puppy gets walked sometime before lunch. Some days, you get out of bed at 10:00 a.m. merely to gather your computer and bring it back into bed with you.
You are officially a sleep junkie.
And showering? That is the last activity to go, but it falls the hardest. For you, a shower is no longer a pleasant way to start the day, awakening and enlivening your senses. It’s a tedious chore. Standing? For fifteen minutes? MOVING YOUR ARMS? You’re too busy for this shit. You’ve got coffee to make, frozen bagels to toast, and you’re already late for work. You make a deal with yourself: Showers will go on your to-do list and you’ll get to it later. It’ll be a midday refresher: Work for an hour or so, and then reward yourself with sage-infused body wash.
6:00 p.m. rolls around and you close the computer. Another work day completed! You deserve a scotch! You pour yourself a double and head for the couch to kick back with an evening SportsCenter. Brooke comes over and joins you.
Brooke: “Wow, that was a tough da- What’s that smell?”
Dan: “What smell?”
Brooke: “Is that you?”
Dan: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” (Covertly sniffs armpit. Knows exactly what smell she is referring to.)
Brooke: “You didn’t shower today, did you. Did you brush your teeth? Did you even shower yesterday?!”
And that’s when it hits you. You can’t remember if you showered yesterday either. You are a professional, a contributing member of middle-class society, and you haven’t showered in two days. You’ve reverted back to your 9-year old self, who would lock the door to the bathroom, run the shower, and sit on the bathmat for ten minutes playing with your legos while pretending to shower.
Shamed, you silently bow your head, get up from the couch, and shuffle to the bathroom. Not a minute later, head still bowed, you come back into the room wrapped in a towel and dripping wet. Without saying a word, you pick up your scotch and return to the shower.