Letters From the Editor

The More You Earn, the Less You Learn

Entering day two of working at home, I recognize there are a lot of things that magically happen, without your recognizing it, when you’re regularly going into an office. One of which is coffee: There’s always a pot ready. It may not be fresh (it isn’t), it may not be good (it’s not), but it’s ready to squirt a strong one that can shake some sense into an overworked mind.

And for the last three weeks my mind has been occupied with the news that I would be laid off at the end of March. For the week before that, however, it was occupied with having the flu. I have to admit—that they waited until I was healthy to hand me the news was a pretty swell thing to do. And, sincerely, the overall experience has been exceedingly swell: At previous jobs I’d wondered about those who get pink-slipped, envied them for their new free time and severance packages. I want to try that sometime, I’d think, that looks like it wouldn’t be so totally bad. Eliminate my position—please! And the reality? It’s not so totally bad. It’s cheap, though.

So when it finally happened to me, instead of looking for a new job and signing on for another tour of work-sleep-work, I’ve decided to work from home, doing freelance writing, doing The Morning News, because I see that there are too many other things that require my attention right now—including learning how to make coffee.

My automatic-drip machine and I have had a nice, uneventful relationship for six months. I’m keen to how it wants one scoop for every cup of coffee it will produce, and that it likes the stuff you get from Whole Foods more than the stuff from a can. It’s served me well and I’ve treated it kindly in return. But my new schedule means I have new needs, and I need my coffeemaker to give a little bit more—say, make the coffee without me having to ask it. Enter the auto-timer. But first: Find the instruction manual.

My father raised me never to throw away an instruction manual, advice that I have devotedly followed for years. And yet for some mysterious reason I left my coffeemaker’s instruction manual somewhere I cannot figure out now. Perhaps it was the trashcan. Come on, I can imagine myself thinking at the time, anybody can use a COFFEEMAKER, idiot, you don’t need the instructions! And also: Why would “auto-brew” ever be something you need to know how to use? You have a job! Coffee always ready!

Staring at the tiny LCD clock on the front of the machine has little effect, nor does repeatedly pressing the button labeled AUTO-BREW. I try shaking the top of the machine, but this only spills leftover grounds onto the countertop. With no other options at hand, I go online and within two minutes find a copy of the instruction manual, and within another two have the clock set and the timer pegged to begin a pot of coffee the next morning at 6:15, which it did, and which it did perfectly.

Little victories mean a lot when you’re working from home.

I recently put together a home office. For a few years now the half of this web magazine that I’ve done has been written while jammed uncomfortably next to a credenza. A note to all those who are writing while jammed uncomfortably next to a credenza: Get a desk. That I built a home office at almost the same time I was laid off is entirely coincidental. A happy coincidence, though, to be sure.

That’s fine and all about you and the layoff, you may be saying, but what’s in it for me?

Watch this site, and we’ll show you very, very soon.


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack

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