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Warning signs for the telecommuter

Fed up with your current job? Tired of being stuck inside a monolithic, uncreative bureaucracy? Perhaps you're beguiled by radio and TV commercials promoting online stock trading or other incredible economic opportunities waiting to be exploited on the World Wide Web.

For whatever reason, more and more people these days are considering the option of staying home and becoming independently wealthy through the marvel of self-employment.

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It's not an unrealistic goal. You may decide to manufacture some device that will improve the American style of living. Somebody's got to uphold the cultural and commercial legacy of Thighmaster, Silly Putty, and Veg-A-Matic.

Perhaps you will offer a service that no sensible person can refuse, such as hourly updates from the PGA tour, or conflict mediation for pets. But beware: Working at home also includes serious pitfalls that can bring lofty aspirations crashing down.

The primary hazard is that leisure tends to delay or suppress productive activity. The conquest of El Dorado cannot be achieved from the comfort of your La-Z-Boy recliner.

All prospective independent contractors should cut out the following list and paste copies near the refrigerator, TV set, and other popular idling spots around the domestic workplace. Your job performance is in jeopardy when:

*You begin wondering what to have for dinner before you've had breakfast.

*It seems more practical to stay in your bathrobe all day than to get dressed.

*You find yourself checking the laundry basket every hour to see if there's enough to run a load in the washer.

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*You can instantly identify the name and time slot of every anchor on CNN Headline News.

*You enjoy talking with door-to-door sales people.

*At least once a week your parents suggest applying to law school.

*Topics on "The Ricki Lake Show" begin to sound reasonable.

*You search for the meaning of life in the lyrics of rock 'n' roll songs.

*More and more time is devoted to observing the adorable, quirky habits of the squirrels in your backyard.

*You call toll-free 800 numbers to answer bumper sticker questions such as "How's My Driving?"

*You become deeply concerned about the happiness of Julia Roberts.

*You consider launching a personal investigation of the JFK assassination.

*You find yourself the center of attention at parties because of your ability to recite huge chunks of dialogue from old "Dragnet" episodes.

*It suddenly seems obvious that you have all the right qualities to run for elected office. And hey, campaigning would probably be a lot of fun, too!

Shake it off, pal.

You're in charge, remember? And nobody likes having a slacker for a boss.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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