…and now this from the home office

“You don’t have a real job.”

I heard this, in essence, from two people this week.

A ”real job.”

What makes a job ”real”?  A paycheck? A boss? A timeclock?  I have these things. The only thing special about my job is I do it from home.

I complained to my co-worker at the vet (my part-time real job) how working on weekends was getting harder and harder for me. She said, ”Oh, I covered a few nights and I loved it! I’d love to sleep all day and work nights!”

”Yes, but I can’t sleep all day.  I work my regular job all day.”

”Yeah but…you work from home, right?”

You work from home, right? Not a real job, right?

And, scene.

I was hanging out with my friend and kept reminding him I had to work later that evening.  ”At the hospital or your other job?”  My other job.  “Oh, so you don’t REALLY have to be back…”

You don’t REALLY have to be back because it’s not a real job.

And, scene.

I’m sure they don’t mean to be insulting.  I get it.  ”Work from home” used to mean stuffing envelopes and assembling birdhouses while watching daytime TV. Then this cool thing called the in-ter-net came along and changed all that.

I am a medical transcriptionist.  My company has contracts with all these hospitals to prepare medical documents for their doctors.  My company hired me to help them with this. I even had to take a special course to learn how to do this, because medical terminology gets complicated, and a critical error could result in someone’s death.  No pressure, right?

My company has these contracts and these things called “turnaround times,” which means we promise if a patient is having surgery tomorrow, their preop note will be in the chart before then; sort of important.  Like most clients, they get testy if work isn’t done and deadlines are missed, and contracts are lost. Just like in the real world! So my company came up with this groundbreaking idea to create shifts, and schedule employees to make sure the shifts were covered. I know, they’re a really exciting, modern workplace, like Google or Pixar.  But you can start to see why I can’t just work when the fancy strikes me.

And thanks to new technology, my employer not only knows when I start working, they know how many keystrokes I average, how many mouse clicks I perform, and how many minutes I spend not touching the keyboard at all.  Just like having an honest-to-goodness supervisor!

Also, I’ll tell you another secret: I don’t get paid salary or even by the hour, but per line produced.  Which means I’m not making any money if I’m fooling around watching TV, or Facebooking, or YouTubing, or doing anything other than my job. And I’m not in this game just for the thrill of reading about grandma’s blood pressure regimen or her nonhealing ulcer.  I got bills that won’t pay themselves.

I get a paycheck, with real taxes and real health insurance and a real 401k and everything.  Because I do it from home makes it no less real. So think of all this before saying something thoughtlessly dismissive like, ”But you work from home, right?”

You've irritated the Sheriff of Nottingham with your unintentional dismissiveness

You’ve irritated the Sheriff of Nottingham with your thoughtless dismissiveness


7 thoughts on “…and now this from the home office

  1. “stuffing envelopes and assembling birdhouses” Ah, the life.

    Most people seem to think that your job is like how people watch TV nowadays, where they can record it and watch it at their leisure. Or If they fall behind on a TV show, they can power their way through and catch up in one day, if they really put their mind to it and stop goofing around. But your responsibilities sounds more like the 90’s, where people were kind of held prisoner by television shows. You had to sit down and watch them on a specific day at a specific time, and sort of be ready to catch every drop of entertainment as it fell. At least you don’t have to sit through commercials.

    (Also, once you get used to being FIRST, it almost happens…effortlessly. Right, Nicole?)

    • The good old days. I’ll bet stuffing envelopes was quite lucrative.

      Sounds like you got it in one, Jaime. I have actually been more insulted, by a guy who wanted to do my job so he could “watch cartoons all day while working.” Watching cartoons, while preparing medical records. Fortunately he was easily distractible and went another route.

      Ooh, burn. I feel like the belle of the ball with y’all fighting to be FIRST.

    • Well, when you spend a good deal of the night before criticizing possible entry titles, you almost feel like you’re FIRST by default. 😉

      You’ve really made me miss the 90’s. I’m not sure the way we watch tv now is any good. My strategy is to binge watch, and fast-forward when I get bored. I don’t know if I’m bored because the show isn’t any good or because I can no longer tolerate silent pauses or inconsequential dialogue.

  2. Your job sounds extremely stressful. In a physical, on-site office (trying to describe a job involving a commute without sounding like it’s the only real sort of job one can have), your manager doesn’t stand over your shoulder constantly, judging every aspect of your productivity. Do you have to log out every time you want to visit the water cooler?

    • Excellent point. Even as I was typing it, I thought it sounded invasive and worrisome in an NSA kind of way. But so far the information is only used as a tool to guide us to higher productivity, i.e. lash the virtual whip. They WANT us to make more money, but only by producing more, not by, you know, giving us raises or anything.

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