If you spend all day in an office, you might think that things are all quiet on the home front while you are away. Images of deserted streets may flash through your mind. A clump of tumbleweed ambling its way gently past number 42. An empty child’s swing oscillating wistfully in the park opposite the phone box.
As someone who spends a significant proportion of their time working from home, however, I can report that this is most certainly not the case. In fact, if the number of people turning up on my doorstep over the course of the average day is anything to go by, our street may soon rival Piccadilly Circus in popularity.
I don’t know why, but the daylight hours – when I am, like practically everyone else, least likely to be home – seem to attract all manner of individuals with their minds set on destroying my concentration, interrupting my work and waking up the dog. Here are just a few examples from recent memory:
- a young lady claiming to be from a construction firm, wondering if I would like to buy a new roof, as the tiles on the current one apparently look at imminent risk of ‘breaking down’ (I don’t, they’re not, go away);
- two twelve year olds in shiny suits and hair gel checking that I am ‘getting my energy discounts’ and wanting to know who supplies my electricity (and presumably, angling to get me to switch to whichever money-grabbing utilities supplier has engaged them this week);
- a lady hoping to drop off a small child with me after a day at nursery (I don’t have a child, have no need for one, and most certainly don’t want to go looking after anybody else’s) – seriously, shouldn’t there be some basic level of security, intelligence or map-reading skills when you’re looking after other people’s offspring?;
- a man who, having spent ten minutes reversing his gargantuan juggernaut of a car through the extremely narrow entrance to our driveway, announced proudly that he’d come to collect the sofa that we’d advertised on Freecycle. It nearly broke my heart (and his) when I informed him that he’d clearly come to the wrong place, as I only have one sofa and would very much like to keep it (it’s the dog’s favourite place from which to watch TV) – though if I had had a spare one, then it would have been his for sheer parking effort alone;
- an angry lady demanding that I return the shopping catalogue that she’d put through my letterbox the previous week, and that I’d apparently failed to leave out on the doorstep for her to collect (some people around here stubbornly refuse to accept the existence of Amazon, eBay or even supermarkets);
- a very cheerful man (twice in as many days) asking if I would like to buy any fresh fish – I asked him where they were from, and he said “from the sea” (the idea of understanding where your food comes from is also, clearly, in its early stages in this neck of the woods);
- various unkempt and excessively enthusiastic individuals (known, I understand, as churglars – or charity burglars) trying to separate me from my hard-earned cash in order to support charities of varying degrees of dubiousness (although a direct debit mandate now seems to have replaced the bucket as their weapon of choice); and
- a steady parade of tattooed young men purveying all manner of household cleaning items, each claiming that their ongoing parole from prison is utterly dependent on selling every last dishcloth and bottle brush before sundown – they might find that they would have more luck, though, if they didn’t all come on the same day.
What’s that all about? Can’t a man earn an honest day’s living in peace? Am I not able to just enjoy the comfort of my own home without some eejit hammering on the door? Does the world assume that because I am at home during the day, I am (a) so bored that I’ll chat with anyone who comes along, and (b) so monumentally stupid that I’ll agree to whatever they suggest in terms of construction projects, household purchases or adopting other people’s children?
Here’s the deal, people. Yes, I am at home. But I am working. I am not sat in my pyjamas, watching pitifully bad daytime television and waiting for the world to come calling. So if you are minded to impose on my working day, then you had better have an exceptionally good reason. Before you knock, think carefully. Very carefully. And whatever you do, don’t disturb the dog.