The Luv Doc: That Elusive Global Pandemic Silver Lining
A lot of nice things are going to come from this extended period of isolation
Dear Luv Doc,
I know this coronavirus is a serious thing and I don't want to make light of it, but it has had one nice benefit for me. Now that I am working from home, I no longer have to deal with my obnoxious co-worker who always eats with his mouth open, talks loudly on the phone all the time, and doesn't bathe regularly. I have also caught him staring at me when I wasn't looking. Now, at least, if he is staring at me in Zoom meetings, I can't tell. I also won't have to smell him, but I swear I can still hear him snacking in the background of our meetings because he doesn't mute his microphone. Anyway, my question is this: Should I ask my boss if I can work from home permanently if I can keep my current level of productivity? Or will that make it seem like I am taking advantage of this terrible situation? – Happily Social-Distanced
First of all, good job finding that elusive global pandemic silver lining! You deserve a raise for that alone! I think in the end we are going to find that a lot of nice things are going to come from this extended period of isolation.
For instance: I myself haven't once in the last three weeks smelled an acrid, deeply troubling, stomach-turning stench emanating from the toilet stalls of the men's locker room at my gym. To say it's been refreshing is a ridiculous understatement. All these beautiful, fresh-aired, sun-dappled mornings have been downright magnificent – even the foggy ones are a huge step up.
In the last three weeks, I haven't experienced the embarrassment of reporting a possible rotting corpse in the men's bathroom to the sporty, cheerful fitness experts at the gym front desk only to have them look at me like I might be the murderer responsible for said corpse instead of a thoughtful, concerned gym member trying to save the world from another pandemic because, to be perfectly honest, whatever caused that smell has to be one of the unhealthiest things on the planet, possibly even the universe. Seriously. I'm talking about the kind of smell that makes you want to buy a flamethrower and just burn everything to the ground and start over – the kind of smell where God throws up Her hands in frustration because She realizes this batch is ruined.
If I am wrong (and I am pretty sure I'm not) and this smell was simply the olfactory product of some fellow's morning constitutional, then at the very least a doctor should be called – or a licensed dietitian. Not some, "How does next Wednesday at 10am sound?" dietitian, but a fucking hazmat-suited, ambulance-driving, red light-running EMT dietitian followed by a caravan of Servpro trucks. Because this shit LITERALLY is NOT OK.
So yeah, good for you finding your comfort zone – even if it happens to be in your house. I'd say you had a strong case for a trip to HR prior to this pandemic, but now you seem to have stumbled upon a solution that won't burden them with your complaints. So yes, talk to your boss – right now – and let her know that you think you can make this work permanently, if given a chance. I don't see that as taking advantage of a bad situation, but rather being enlightened by one. Good luck!