Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What My Desk-Bound Colleagues Miss

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

What My Desk-Bound Colleagues Miss

Article excerpt

So how long does it take you to get to work?"

Family and friends inevitably ask this question soon after arriving at our house, recently built on 10 acres in the country. They are usually standing at the French doors in our dining room admiring the half-acre of mud covering our septic system.

"It depends," I say, positioning myself to observe their reaction, "on whether or not I trip over a dog in the hallway."

I get a puzzled look.

"I work from home," I say.

"You're kidding!" they respond, astonished.

Suddenly, I am an Oracle: "How did you manage that?"

Then, a Malingerer: "You can work in your pajamas and no one will ever know!"

Finally, an Object of Wonder: "I could never work from home. I would be too distracted by dirty laundry, a nap, Oprah...." (Choose one.)

I must admit that I had similar concerns at first, although the distractions I feared most were Peanut Butter Chip ice cream in the freezer and 40 boxes of books that had spent three years in exile (i.e. storage) while we followed my job from the Midwest to the Rocky Mountains and back again.

But strangely, the opposite is true. I have discovered that there aren't enough distractions working from home. If my two dogs could talk (and they do - to me) they would tell you the same thing. In the six months since I started working from home, I've discovered that a dog's day, much like mine, is pretty uneventful. Their day consists of sleep, wake up, bark at something outside, repeat; mine consists of read e-mail, send e-mail, make phone calls, repeat.

One day, while I was working at the computer, the dogs started barking, only this bark was different. It was similar to their standard "Hey! Hey! Hey!" bark, but had more of a "You Gotta See This!" tone. Skeptical, because my dogs have been known to bark at invisible mice, I approached the window to tell them to "shush."

But I didn't. Because trotting past our house, up our 800-foot driveway and heading for the road was our 11-year-old neighbor's 4- H project: a 1,500-pound Holstein steer named Montana.

Technically, Montana was last year's 4-H project, and as such, he probably should have been sold at the county fair in the fall. But Mandy, Montana's owner, talked her dad into keeping Montana around for a while longer. And now I was watching this three-quarter-ton family pet trotting into trouble.

Knowing that Mandy and her family were away at school and work, I called my other neighbor, Bob.

"Bob, Montana is loose and running up our driveway toward the road," I said.

Bob is a retired fire chief, so it takes more than a nomadic cow to pique his interest. "The blacksmith is coming this week," he said. "Do you want to put your horse on the list?"

That's what I like about Bob; he's an excellent gauge for how anxious you should be. From his experience with fires, train derailments, and kittens up trees, Bob knows what's worth worrying about. …

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