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Working from home

Our company announced that from tomorrow morning until “further notice” we will be working from home. This is because we are afraid of the coronavirus.

Personally, I’m not afraid of the virus, but I’m always ready to work from home. In fact, I have not showed up at work for several months. It is somehow safer to stay at home even in absence of coronavirus. Clearly, because of the possibility of general panic, you need to stock up on basic items at least a month in advance. The main necessity is water. I already got several buckets in my hallway. But this is all cold water, and for the hot water you need to go to the central boiler station. I took an empty bucket and went out, thinking that even if I manage to bring a bucket of hot water, after I put it next to others it will be impossible to tell them apart. They all look the same, and while I will be checking one bucket at a time, the hot water will cool down. These considerations were suddenly interrupted by a more relevant idea: I had so imprudently left the house at the very moment when an important meeting might have been scheduled.

Fortunately, I took a work phone with me, so I could look at my calendar. However, for some reason, it is so oddly synchronized with the home phone, that all three calendars point at the times of pleasure instead of business. I had to come back home to look at my work computer. I called-in just in time. As soon as I got connected, I heard my boss say, “Ilya”. I am all the attention. He talked about two of my projects. The first one I did not get at all, but did not ask, afraid of being caught at my inability to understand English (which I have been able to skillfully hide for the last 15 years). The second project I understood, but did not know how to approach it. The task was to rearrange all the words in one document so that it would turn out something completely different.

To make it easier for us to communicate, we went to my family office and sat down at my wife’s desk. She complained we were distracting her. We proceeded to the adjacent office. There we found my chess partner, a young graduate student who suddenly began to tell my boss about his research. My boss was trying to help and made a comment—a very sensible one, in my opinion. The student suddenly became infuriated and yelled: “What are you talking about? After all, you don’t even understand the essence of my research. At least I attended all the meetings on this issue, while you were not even there.” The arrogance of the student surprises me. Sure, he can be credited for attending all the meetings related to his research. And why would we give a damn?

The noise makes angry a woman from another organization working in the adjacent room behind a glass wall. She leaves her office and enters our room accompanied by another woman. She gives a dirty look to the graduate student, at the same time smiling at me. In the meantime she manages to check everyone’s haircut. The student’s hair is overgrown, and to make sure she pulls his locks with an effort. He turns back on his heels and I realize that it was her female colleague, smiling in response: sure, today I’ll go to the hairdresser and get everything fixed.

Then my boss finally notices an unfinished game on the chess board, left right there on the couch where he sat down, and says that my last move with a back knight was a big mistake. Instead I should have moved my pawn. Well, yes, at the moment the knight move looked like a sensible thing to do, but I was probably drunk. I still have not quite sobered up.

I offer my boss a choice of tea or coffee. After all, we have been sitting here for the whole night. He declines. Maybe a glass of mineral water? I would have a glass too, my throat is so dry that I can barely move my tongue. “Yes, perhaps .... mineral water sounds good,” says the boss. I take a bottle from the fridge and pour into two glasses: one dirty for myself, and a clean one for my boss. However, to get water you need to wake up and walk to the fridge yourself. Thank God, I do not need to go to work. Coronavirus.

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