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As The Days in Captivity Pile Up

My wife is happy that instead of focusing my angst and frustration at her, I have a new target. We work together, and we are part of an amazing team that is helping our church navigate some difficult times. Probably against our better judgment, we share an office – the second bedroom of our condo, located over the garage.

My dad had once wisely opined that wallpapering together was a true test of a marriage. Their marriage has survived 71 and a half years, so he can say things like that.

He, however, never had to work from home with my mom. Walk a few miles in my socks, dad… Previously, this room was my sanctuary, where my library is located. I could come here and meditate, read, gaze outside at our neighborhood, and wrap my head around things that were causing me disquiet.

Now, my wife has a table set up alongside my desk and sits a few feet away from me. Not even the proper distance for physical distancing. When we talk to each other, it can be terse, and short, and sometimes through gritted teeth. She is a driven person, able to keep her nose to the grindstone, can work hours on end at the same vexing project, and she will eventually bring it to its knees and vanquish anything. She is meticulous, organized, and efficient.

Enter me. Mr. Poster Child for ADHD, disorganization, and disarray. Don’t even mention multi-tasking to me, single-tasking seems like Mt. Kilimanjaro to me most days. I can take on 27 things in a day, and at the end of the day have 43 things added to my “to do” list. If I compiled “to do” lists. Once in a while, I do like to make lists, but only because I can throw them away in a few days when I feel like cleaning up my desk in order to avoid some of the 27 things that I should be doing.

For me, making a list becomes populated with things that become “to don’ts.”

So that is the drama and tension that permeates our workspace. I fancy myself a creative type. Right now, I am bursting with pride at knocking out six or seven paragraphs of wonderful prose that shall fall in front of your eyes, hopefully, soon. I love the way that she honors her farm-girl roots, she is diligent and often quotes her beloved dad, a wonderful farmer with a gentle soul who never left a chore undone. He’d say, “You work 8 hours for 8 hours pay.” It more than made an impression on her. She gives about 60 hours a week for whatever her salary is based on. This is not a job, she has a mission and a heart for doing what she can to help her church, the church which she has called home all her life, not just succeed, but thrive.

Instead of inspiring, it embarrasses and highlights my own inability to focus and stay on task. Get on task, start a task, do stuff, do something. It is probably the real source of the discord here. It rankles me that I am face to face with my squirrel watching, dream-chasing, thought scouring self on a minute by minute basis.

I loudly proclaimed that no one is going to be safer at home because appliances (laptops, DVD players, tablets, whatever…) will be flying about the interiors of our homes, bouncing off walls and out windows.

Technology. That is the new bane of my existence. My office mate and I laughed out loud several times today, as I let loose several times today on technology and its uncanny ability to frustrate me at nearly every turn. In Wisconsin, our governor has extended our “Safer at Home” directive until late May. I loudly proclaimed that no one is going to be safer at home because appliances (laptops, DVD players, tablets, whatever…) will be flying about the interiors of our homes, bouncing off walls and out windows. Let me preface this with the proper disclaimer – technology is good, it allows us to stay in touch, it allows us to share documents and do all kinds of amazing things, it keeps us informed, it lets us see the faces of people that we have not met, or have not seen for too long. Earlier today, I sent the following email to our lead pastor, as the shared folder that we put our monthly reports into, suddenly after three years, no longer recognizes me. I wrote:

“For some reason, the “shared” drive says that I am not allowed to upload files to that folder, so I am attaching my report to this email. I think my laptop is confused because both Rhonda and I are using it and have both signed into our email accounts on here. I loaded my “unnamed” account and it still would not let me upload my report. Anyway, I love technology, except almost all the time. It might be stunned that I am actually getting it into the folder on time for once and doesn’t believe that it’s me.” That email message, of course, shot forth from my laptop after trying to get the report into that folder for about half an hour. I thought that folder was just entertaining itself by slapping away my report, and after the seemingly bajillionth time that I tried it, I did notice a message “You do not have permission to upload anything to this folder.” Well, la tee frickin’ dah. Thank you for that. Suddenly, after three years, are we breaking up?

And so here I am. Dutifully doing my deep breathing. Trying to remember that it was just yesterday that I sat with so many other creative, brilliant peeps from around the planet and pondered laughter on the “Friendship Bench” – the brainchild of Dennis Pitocco. I probably was not paying close enough attention, ya think? I was not totally plugged in, as I was working on something else while trying to soak up some of the good vibes from some of my new friends.

This too shall pass. I know it will. I say it all the time. This too – this situation, this crappy situation? Umm… this laptop may pass too, right past my lamp in the corner, right out the window. If I told the truth, part of my frustration was that I could not find my report at first when I set out to send it to the suddenly shy shared folder. I just wrote the stupid thing yesterday. Why? Because my wife, when she is at work, has a desktop, which of course, cannot be brought home. So, she is working on my work laptop, and I work on my personal laptop. Which means that a lot of the files that I need to work on aren’t on this laptop, and I need to transfer them from one to another.

And when I save files on this laptop, Microsoft has so wonderfully changed where it tucks my files that I can’t find them when I do want them. It probably makes perfect sense to the engineer who designed this new and improved way of doing things. He probably chuckles at my angst and flummoxification… it would be his head that my laptop would be directed at if I were able to pass one in his direction. Here pal, this too shall pass.

Do I feel any better? Probably not. I am just a guy who writes occasionally. I try to think more profound thoughts than this. I have a particularly good biographical sketch coming out soon, with lots of pithy insights, cool, reasoned perspectives, and reasoned thinking. That guy is in the room with me, but he is too busy aiming technological missiles at windows and walls. This too shall pass. I love my wife. I really do. We just need separate workspaces. Technology and me? Definitely on the rocks. Speaking of which, it’s happy hour.

Tom Dietzler
Tom Dietzler
Lifelong, proud somewhat strident Wisconsinite, I love my state and love to sing its praises. A bon vivant and raconteur, lover of history, literature and good conversations. Laughter and music are salves that I frequently am applying to my soul. I have spent time (too much) in manufacturing and printing and have found great joy in my current position as director of operations at a large church in the same area where I grew up. Husband to Rhonda and father of two adult children Melanie and Zack, I’m the constant companion of my five-year-old Lab, Oliver, who is my muse to a lot of my stories. I’m a fan of deep conversation and my interests are in learning and gaining wisdom, so in the last few years I have become and less politically vocal, and hopefully more respectful and open-minded. Rhonda and I sold our home in 2018, bought a condo and have traveled a bit more, golfed a bit more and are enjoying life a bit more. If you take the time to get to know me, prepare yourself for an invite to the 30th state to join the union, a gem located in the upper Midwest, full of beautiful scenery formed by the glaciers, with lots of lakes and trees and gorgeous scenery, and the nicest people that you’d ever want to meet.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I liked this article, also fun in some respects.
    Working with your partner, having an activity to manage in common, staying side by side from morning to night, for some a nightmare, in some cases, however, it is essential for the survival of your business.
    On the other hand, those who work in pairs with their partner also know what it means to face the daily challenges that a 24-hour relationship imposes!
    However I think it takes absolute patience, trying to respect each other as individuals and as professionals.
    What if love ends? It depends on a thousand factors. From how and why we break up. How the work is going at that moment. Again, I think that dealing with such a situation requires enormous work of foresight, patience and intelligence. It is hoped, in these cases, that, if love is dead, the desire to build with work is not.
    In general, I think that, if it is a business, it is perhaps easier to create the conditions for everything to run smoothly. But I am more inclined to different jobs for the simple practical reason that, if one of the two loses his job, there is that of the other to keep the hut standing. But if you do the same job and it goes wrong, you will both find yourself out of a job.

  2. Love this Tom. I am sorry but I live out in the county and can go days without seeing anyone. However you article was great and made me smile. Why because I remember when my kids had to come back and live with me for a while.

  3. “I loudly proclaimed that no one is going to be safer at home because appliances (laptops, DVD players, tablets, whatever…) will be flying about the interiors of our homes, bouncing off walls and out windows.” What a brilliant image, Tom, reminiscent of “Network” – “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!” And there goes the laptop out the window.

    I love my wife, too, Tom, but I could never work right next to her. We would drive each other crazy. We are quite a bit like you and your wife, but in reverse.

    I actually winced when I read that you have lost your space. This too shall pass. Soon. Well, relatively soon.

  4. Quintessential Tom Dietzler! What I loved most? “Walk a mile in my socks, dad!” Tim and I tried to share an office once. It wasn’t pretty. You might be better off setting up a temporary office in the shower.

    • Leave it to you, Kimberly – that was actually my favorite line too! Glad that you enjoyed it. BC 360 is my safety valve in times of stress, my home, neighborhood and community benefit from me having this platform to vent my spleen every so often. You know I’m really a pussycat, right? Thanks for your support and encouragement, as always!

  5. And why did I assume that the engineer who designed the new way that Word saves your files was male? Because a woman would probably have done it in a way that makes sense and was much more user friendly… that’s why I figure it was a guy who dreamed up this little treasure hunt… Thanks for your support and encouragement Dennis, it is much appreciated.

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