Updated: Jan 23, 2021
Working from home has certainly had its challenges for all of us. Particularly those of us with kids. Having no daycares to send our kids to, combined with their “pent-up” energy levels given the reduced activities they were left able to partake in, and you have a recipe for a nuclear disaster.
March 22nd: I’m on my first zoom/teams call with colleagues, and like most of us were at that time (some still are), disheveled, exhausted and frankly in despair (that and likely wearing boxers or pajamas as the bottom part of our wear). Some of us worked in our makeshift offices and, if you were lucky, it all looked managed to look presentable. But then there were the rest of us. Turning bedrooms, kitchens, heck even storage rooms into areas that would look like workplaces (in a refugee camp). Thankfully we eventually figured out how to change the backgrounds and some, albeit not all, clients, colleagues, actually bought in that these were our real office digs (how having a background of a café in Cuba managed to fool some I still don’t know to this day).
But outside of the appearances, the worse had to be when one of our kids would come knocking on our door. You see, my kids don’t just knock, they knock and immediately enter. Kind of like a Three's Company episode of old. I would then scramble to try and turn the camera off, find the damn mute button, but often, to no avail. “Papa can you get me a glass of water” “Papa I think something exploded in the microwave” (did I mention my kids are almost 12).
But when you are in the middle of a client presentation, in precarious economic times, you will often resort to desperate measures to “shoo” them away,
And so I would develop techniques to instantaneously flick items at them, but without having any change in my facial expression. With just a snap of the wrist I would toss stress balls (I've got lots), pencils, heck even staplers at my incoming kids. Unbeknownst to me, I was slowly becoming the Bullseye character from the Marvel cinematographic universe, proud of myself when I’d hit the target and get them to leave the premises (not so proud when my wife walked in to the room one day and a big, fat eraser hit her square in the head).
Over time, I began taking my craft to a whole new other level. Dimming the lights during these zoom calls, just showing my eyes and forehead (like Tim Allen’s neighbor in Home Improvement) to avoid clients being able to spot my growing Gandalf beard, and staying on mute as much as possible. Needless to say, there were “incidents” like the time I thought the camera was not off and (don’t worry this wasn't a Jeffrey Toobin moment) I was mimicking an ex-colleague (on a social, alumni type call).
One thing is certain. We will one day be able to look back on these covid “incidents” and laugh. That is, in the not so distant future, right?