This previous happy marriage of 40 years now feels strained and uncertain.
Perhaps it is the work we do. My wife, a nurse, a front line worker, does deal with stressful situations. I acknowledge that, but I too have to deal with life and death decisions. My work involves formulating corporate policy, within a large soulless infrastructure based organisation, that impacts the day to day life of my fellow “team members”. This week I had to formulate a policy about how long a tribute to a deceased team member should stay on the Corporate Intranet home page. A day is too short, a week might be long enough for everyone to realize that there is a lunch box in the fridge that can now be thrown out. More than a week and the image might become a haunting one with staff avoiding the Intranet and the picture with those eyes that seem to stare directly into your soul.
Perhaps we should just leave it up till the next one dies? Would that spark some sort of betting frenzy as they punt on the duration? Challenging policy decisions indeed. Then there is the issue of what is the appropriate photo to display. The corporate mug shot from the ID card might be 20 years old. Using that one might lead people to think that Pedro had died from a hair transplant or Maria recently had a lot of work done in a vain attempt to keep death from her door. I looked at my profile picture and the caption “homeless serial killer finally in police custody” would be appropriate. So now I have proposed we set up a portal where people can upload their “death notice” pictures. I’m sure you can appreciate the pressure I am under in the workplace.
No, the realisation came yesterday morning when my wife work me up at 7:10 to tell me she was leaving to catch the first of the two busses she would take to get to work. I wished her a good day and attempted to roll over in my Hi-viz pyjamas to grab another 30 minutes of sleep. The look in her eyes said it all. She was jealous and she wasn’t happy. She was green with envy. She was actually wearing green scrubs so maybe that helped.
I tried to point out the benefits she was receiving from my working from home. Every time I got up from my desk during the day to get food and/or coffee I did a little housework on the way. My expanding waistline and the immaculate house she came home to every day were testaments to my commitment. If she worked a late shift I would, after my day in the appalling pressure cooker of policymaking, spend the evening ironing our clothes.
But it’s not enough. She just can’t accept that she is on the morning bus and I am still asleep. I imagine this trauma is being played out in households across the nation. The stay at home worker is being mercilessly hounded by the one that has to travel to their workplace every day. So the choice is stark. Return to the office or get a divorce. I think I will have to sleep on that one.