In the future, thanks to advances in personal computing and Internet connectivity, more and more people will be working at home. While there are some obvious benefits to this arrangement, such as gasoline cost savings and the ability to devote more of the workweek to bidding on Battlestar Gallactica memorabilia, there is a dark side as well: working at home greatly reduces the opportunities for office romance.
Gone are the liquor-fueled holiday parties and the team-building retreats that have traditionally served as the tinderboxes for employee-on-employee passion. Gone, too, are the monthly budget meetings, where passed notes and stolen glances often lead to more -- so much more. Lonely and isolated, the home-based employee will start looking for love in all the wrong places. And therein lies the ugly truth of working at home: when you're your own boss, you have no one to sexually harass but yourself.
Consider my story a cautionary tale. When I got the opportunity to start working at home a couple of years ago, I jumped at the chance, envisioning the huge spike in productivity that would naturally result from not having to shave or put on pants. In those early, innocent days, I was putting in robust eight-hour workdays, interrupted only by lunch and semi-hourly visits to YouTube. But then, after three days of this happy routine, everything changed in an instant. After using the bathroom one morning, I caught sight of myself in the mirror and, almost without thinking, I uttered these two fateful words: "Looking good."
When I got back to my desk, I was rattled. Perhaps my comment to myself in the bathroom had merely been friendly, but a part of me felt that it was inappropriate. And that come-hither expression on my face was unmistakable: I had seen it many times before, most notably on my Match.com profile. No, there could be little doubt: I was my own boss, and I was hitting on myself.
Feelings of unease soon gave way to other feelings -- feelings of shame. Had I, as my own boss, created a hostile work environment for myself? Or had I, as my own employee, "asked for it" by showing up to work wearing nothing but underwear? Making matters worse, I had no one to turn to in my hour of torment. One thing they don't tell you when you decide to work at home: in addition to being your own boss, you're your own H.R. person.
Trapped in a hell of my own creation, I had no choice but to downsize myself and outsource my job to India. As draconian as that solution might sound, it felt then, and still feels today, like the only way out. At this very moment, I am probably sexually harassing myself in an industrial park in Bangalore, but at least I don't have to know about it.
Andy Borowitz is a comedian and writer whose work appears in The New Yorker and The New York Times, and at his award-winning humor site, BorowitzReport.com.
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