Yesterday morning I posted the following message on my Facebook page:
The problem about working from home and for yourself is that you don’t have an IT department! Got a message from Revenue On-Line (eek!) to say they’d sent me an email. Tried to log-on. Realised I needed yet another Java Update. Did that. Still couldn’t access my account. Wade thru their help pages and discover it’s because I’ve had to replace my laptop so am using a different computer. Follow all their instructions but then get a message saying ‘we can’t load your certificate’ please contact Help. Tired already and haven’t even started my proper job yet!!!
And that’s one of the big problems about working for yourself especially if you’re working from home. There’s no support system. If the computer goes on the blink, you’re the one who has to fix it. If you’ve forgotten to keep up your stock of (frankly outrageously expensive) printer cartridges and you need to print something urgently, you have to high-tail it to the shops and pick one up yourself. When you want something posted, there isn’t a convenient tray to drop it in so that someone else does it – oh, and you never, ever have the right value stamp because everything you post is a different weight or a different shape and you don’t have a franking machine.
Another problem is the domestic stuff that happens. You switch on the heat and realise that the radiators are gurgling but not getting any warmer. So, without a maintenance person to help out, you’re the one who has to find the Allen key and bleed them. Meantime the washing machine has finished its load and is beeping manically for you to switch it off. (Why do you have to beep so insistently washing machine? Do you want praise for having completed another wash? I don’t beep when I’ve finished whatever it is I’m doing!)
And then it’s lunch time. There’s no canteen or handy sandwich takeaway place nearby so you have to make your own sandwich. Fair enough. Except you forgot to buy bread when you were out getting printer cartridges and stamps. So instead you have some slightly off cheese and a square of chocolate.
Afterwards you think that the time is now right to get creative but one of the fire alarms has decided to tell you that the battery is running low. These alarms are wired directly into the electricity but they won’t stop beeping (more beeping!) until you get them a new battery. Which you don’t have in stock because you used the last one a couple of months ago and you forgot to pick up a replacement owing to it not being important. So you go to the shops (again) and pick up a battery – and some bread – and you stand on the stepladder and try to prise the top off the alarm only it has other ideas. This is where the swearing and stabbing it with a screwdriver starts although you know you’re only making things worse. Eventually the top comes off with a simple click. You’ve tried this twist and click method a thousand times but only now has it decided to work. You replace the battery and the incessant beeping finally stops. You are happy to know that you are safe again from fires. Although not from pestilence as a spider, clearly disturbed the the beeping and swearing, drops down from the rafter above the fire alarm and scares you rigid. Obviously you have to deal with the spider.
You are clearly now in no fit state to do anything other than play Candy Crush which you do for half an hour, delighted that at least you don’t have to hide the screen from the prying eyes of the boss. Then you realise that you’re the boss and the only time you’re wasting is your own. You feel bad. You go downstairs and finish the chocolate and feel bad about that too.
You sit in front of the computer and see that while you were dealing with the post, the fire alarms, the laundry and the spider, your email box has been filling up. Your spam filter has clearly taken the day off because someone called Carlos, and a selection of his friends, has mailed to tell you that he’s looking for a woman just like you to share his life. You’re thinking that maybe it mightn’t be a bad idea, because the other emails are online bills that need to be dealt with. You remember when you worked in an office and Geraldine-from-accounts used to complain about her workload. You feel bad that you thought she was a bit of a slacker.
By six o’clock you’ve dealt with the computer, the post, the bills, the lack of office supplies, the laundry, the alarms, the spiders and answered the two personal emails. You know you should write something. But the brilliant idea you had first thing this morning has disappeared. Because you forgot to write it down in a notebook. You forgot to buy a notebook.