Saturday, April 01, 2006

The simple joys of telecommuting

Greetings from the new dad on the block!

Me: author of columns on Asian pop culture for the San Francisco Chronicle's website, proprietor of a mailblog called Instant Yang, father of 2.5 year old Hudson, and now, occasional guest contributor here in electric daddyland. Since January 15, I've also been working for Iconoculture, a consumer trend advisory company based in Minneapolis--which means I've been telecommuting now for about two and a half months.

There's something richly fulfilling about working from home. Now, if only someone would tell me what that something is, I'd be set. Those of you who complain of office jobs and commutes (and yeah, I was one of you, once upon a time) don't know how good you've got it--the price of rolling out of bed and being in your office is that you're, like, always at work and never at work at the same time.

Still in grind mode at 2 am? Sure, because it's not like there's a Flintstones quittin'-time bird to whistle your blessed release from the quarry.

Someone need to sit around waiting for the cable guy, pick up clothes from the dry cleaner, watch over the contractors to make sure they aren't riffling through the underwear drawers? Guess it's you--you're home anyway. Which means half the things you had to get done slide off the workday schedule...ensuring yet another night of late-night grind.

As far as kidcare's concerned...Dear Wife commutes to Long Island, and someone's got to make sure Hudson is fed in the morning, his teeth brushed, chewable vitamin tucked into one cheek, lunch prepared, dropped off at day care wearing sufficiently warm and unembarassing clothes, etc. Sadly, mornings, toddler style, do not conform to Outlook calendar demands--which leads to some awkward professional moments.

Take yesterday: Dear Wife on early call at hospital, so no toddler-wrangling partner. Son Hudson wakes me at 7 am, demanding eggs for breakfast. When presented with said eggs, refuses to eat them, demanding instead a bowl of oatmeal. Oatmeal is made, and he says he wants dried apples in it. Cut up apples, mix, and he emits a top-of-lungs EEEWWW (even though he eats oatmeal with dried apples every other froggin' day).

I tell him that he can eat eggs or oatmeal or both, but that he has to eat something. He begins to cry at the sheer horror of being asked to consume nutritious comestibles.

Aware that the original plan was to get him to school 15 minutes early so that I could be on time for an important teleconference, I soothe him until he stops crying, and tell him he has to eat if he wants to get big and strong. He takes one bite of oatmeal, smiles, and shows how big and strong he already is by throwing the bowl on the floor, neatly splattering his hair and sweater in the process.

By the time I get him and the floor halfway cleaned up, it's 9:05 and one of my teleconference colleagues is calling me wondering if I'm dialing in. I apologize and touchtone the code, shushing Hudson in the background, and leading the meeting while trying to sign-language him into eating some of the eggs. As I'm trying to spoon a fluffy yellow mouthful into him, receiver tucked between chin and shoulder, he reaches over, grabs the phone, and clearly and politely tells my teleconference: "A robot bite me!" (Note: He and his cousin Evan have curiously invented a world of friendly yet occasionally carnivorous robots, which need to be zapped with the TV remote to prevent them from going nuts and attacking.)

I remove the phone from his fingers and apologize to the meeting, which has broken up in laughter. Great icebreaker. I oughta rent him out for coporate retreats. I explain the situation to my colleagues, put them on hold, and give him a Donkey Kong Gogurt stick, which he gulps at while sitting on the potty. I tie up my meeting and take him to daycare, half an hour late.

I'm still getting earnest messages from my Minneapolis-based coworkers inquiring on the state of Hudson's robot bite.

It's fine.

Mommy kissed it all better.


landismom said...

Ah, yes, I'm well familiar with the joys of telecommuting. There's nothing quite like wearing sweatpants to work. On the other hand, why do I always have to be the one to stay home with the sick kid(s)?

Welcome, Jeff. Once upon a time, I married a former roommate of yours. We last saw you at your wedding, on beautiful Staten Island. We're now living happily ever after with two kids--email me to catch up at landismom(at)gmail(dot)com.

Chowgirl said...

I never had choices for breakfast. My folks woulda said "Eat your breakfast or die!" Ah, the old school...

Isn't there a pic of your baby with your Foxy looking dog on Sfgate? I don't know if you want to post it here but it's cute.

Sizwe_X said...

"A robot bite me!" Jesus, that's hilarious. I'm in my cube cracking up.

MetroDad said...

Welcome aboard, Jeff! Glad to have you onboard here. Been a longtime fan of your writing.

InstantYang said...

Wow. If there's one thing that this newfangled blogging doohickey is teaching me, it's that this world is absurdly small and razzin' frazzin' incestuous. Landismom--I'll ping you to say hi, and to try to quiz out your identity, which, to my dismay, does not immediately dawn on me from your enigmatic comment above!

(The wedding was high-concept chaos, though still one of the best days of my life; and as for your being married to a former roommate...okay, I'm curious--am assuming you're not talking college here...) Anyway, thanks for commiserating on the telework front. More via email.

And MetroDad--love your blog, and am delighted to be in such esteemed daddy company. Where in New York are you? Feel free to email me at asian pop culture at gmail dot com--maybe we can grab a drink sometime.