Remember when you worked from home ?

Library Life — published 06/02/17


“911 OPERATOR: 911—what’s your emergency?

ROBERT: Hi, I . . . uh . . . I work from home.

OPERATOR: O.K., is anyone else there with you, sir?

ROBERT: No, I’m alone.

OPERATOR: And when’s the last time you saw someone else? Was that today?

ROBERT: Uh, my wife . . . this morning, I guess.

OPERATOR: Anyone else?

ROBERT: I don’t think so. Well, the mailman, but that was through the blinds. I don’t know if that counts.

OPERATOR: I’m afraid not. (Pause.) I’m going to ask you to open the blinds, O.K.? Let’s go ahead and let some light in.

ROBERT: How much light??

OPERATOR: Just a little is fine.

ROBERT: O.K. (Pause.) I did it. (Pause.) It’s bright. It feels so bright on my face.

OPERATOR: That’s good. That’s how it’s supposed to feel. (Pause.) I need you to tell me what you’re wearing, O.K.?

ROBERT: You know . . . just regular clothes.

OPERATOR: Outside clothes or inside clothes?

ROBERT: Hold on, I’ll check. (Pause.) Pajamas. I’m wearing my pajamas. I could swear I’d changed into regular . . . I thought these were jeans!

OPERATOR: It’s O.K., sir. Calm down.

ROBERT: Wait, this isn’t even a shirt. It’s just my skin! Goddammit.

OPERATOR: So just pajama bottoms, then. Can we assume that you haven’t showered today?

ROBERT: I don’t know.

OPERATOR: I need you to walk over to the bathroom to see if your towel is damp. O.K.? Can you do that for me?

ROBERT: I think so.


ROBERT: I’m walking over there. (Pause.) O.K., I’m here. I’m in the bathroom. I see my towel . . . .

(Muffled sobs.)


ROBERT: It’s dry.

OPERATOR: O.K., that’s O.K. Let’s get you back over to the window where the light is, all right? Walk toward the light. (Pause.) What’s your name, sir?

ROBERT: Robert.

OPERATOR: Hi, Robert. I’m Cherise.

ROBERT: Hi, Cherise.

OPERATOR: You did the right thing by calling today, Robert. I’m going to get some people over there soon to help you, O.K.? And I’ll stay with you on the phone until they get there. Do you understand?

ROBERT: I think so.

OPERATOR: Now, Robert, did you eat anything today?

ROBERT: Yes. Many times.

OPERATOR: Are you eating now, Robert?

ROBERT: I keep putting things in my mouth a lot.

OPERATOR: O.K., can you tell me what food you’ve eaten today?

ROBERT: You mean everything?


ROBERT: I don’t know exactly. I mean, I started out with breakfast before my wife left for work . . . scrambled eggs with toast and coffee . . . and then I think I maybe had a bowl of cereal when she left.

OPERATOR: Is that it?

ROBERT: Like an hour or so later . . . I had a banana with peanut butter.

OPERATOR: Did you slice the banana?

ROBERT: No. I dipped it right into the jar, because no one was watching. (Pause.) No one watches.

OPERATOR: So no plate or anything?


OPERATOR: And that was it until lunch?


OPERATOR: What else did you have?

ROBERT: I made a quesadilla . . . another bowl of cereal, I think . . . and some pretzels, the flat ones that are like chips. I love those.

OPERATOR: Those are good. (Pause.) And did you have lunch after that or was that lunch?

ROBERT: (Pause.) I remember ham . . . lots of ham.

OPERATOR: In a sandwich?

ROBERT: No. No sandwich. Just ham pieces. (Pause.) There were also some . . . spoonfuls of chocolate frosting, two or three . . . green peppers, I think, and yogurt. A large tub of yogurt. Peach.

OPERATOR: O.K., Robert, you understand that what you just described isn’t really lunch, right?

ROBERT: It is lunch. When there are no rules, it is lunch, Cherise!

OPERATOR: Did you at any point dip the green peppers in the peach yogurt?

ROBERT: Probably. Sorry.

OPERATOR: That’s O.K. (Pause.) Now, Robert, did you get any work done today?

ROBERT: I don’t think so. I was supposed to make a deck for a meeting and I . . . I started it . . . I started the deck.

OPERATOR: And then you stopped?

ROBERT: The Internet has fun things for me to do . . . so I did them. (Pause.) I think I played some guitar, too . . . oh, and I separated all the dimes from my change jar, which took a while.

OPERATOR: Why did you do that?

ROBERT: I have four hundred and seventy-nine dimes.

OPERATOR: (Pause.) Anything else?

ROBERT: Then I got sucked into watching a YouTube video about meerkats.

OPERATOR: A documentary?

ROBERT: Yeah. (Pause.) And then that led me to . . . other videos . . . that weren’t documentaries. . . . It’s not important.

OPERATOR: So you started to watch pornography?


OPERATOR: You went from meerkats straight to pornography?

ROBERT: That’s right, yeah.

OPERATOR: (Pause.) And how long did you spend watching videos?

ROBERT: It doesn’t matter because I make my own schedule . . . you know? (Pause.) Cherise?

OPERATOR: I understand. Now, since you didn’t get any work done, do you think you may have exercised today?

ROBERT: I don’t remember. . . . It’s possible, I guess.

OPERATOR: Can you look around the house for me and tell me if you see any signs that you may have exercised? Sneakers, gym shorts, ThighMaster? Anything.

ROBERT: Uh . . . I don’t see anything, I don’t think. (Pause.) Wait, I see a yoga mat.

OPERATOR: Oh, O.K., good. Is it your yoga mat?


(Sounds of hysterical sobbing.)

OPERATOR: Robert? I need you to stay with me, O.K.? The E.M.T.s should be there shortly, and I’m going to need you to let them in. Can you do that?


OPERATOR: You mentioned a meeting earlier. What time is your meeting today, Robert?

ROBERT: Four-thirty.

OPERATOR: O.K., well, the E.M.T.s are going to help you get that deck ready and get you showered and changed.

ROBERT: It’s just a conference call.

OPERATOR: Regardless. And they’ll help tidy things up around there before your wife gets back, O.K., Robert?

ROBERT: Thank you.

OPERATOR: But, until they get there, no more eating and no more meerkat videos, O.K.?


ROBERT: I work from home.

OPERATOR: Shh-shh-shh . . . I know you do.


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