Sorry, I’m Closed

One of the toughest messages to get through to my customers, and also to myself at times, is that I really must have some downtime every week at some point. The best time to take this is on a Sunday. Not because of religion, of course (that would be silly), but for the simple reason that most people also conclude that this is is a definite day of rest, and therefore are either doing their own thing, or respect others that want to do their own thing.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work out that way. In the last year, Sundays have been my day of “catch up”. The million and one jobs that don’t get done during the week, through lack of time, get worked through – gradually – on Sunday instead. Mostly these are real, paying jobs. For example, today I have transferred three VHS tapes to DVD, built a new machine and set it all up, as well as made some purchases for upcoming jobs.

But what I don’t do, thankfully, is answer the phone. Sometimes I turn my phone off completely.

Today hasn’t been one of those days, alas, because, due to thoughtless, inconsiderate and over-demanding customers, I’ve had little option but to await their calls, when they were ready to call me.

Some people don’t seem to grasp that, maybe, just maybe, I might actually not want to deal with people on one day of the week. It’s not much to ask, is it?

I think part of the reason is that I work from home, and my business is me, and I am my business. There is no division between the two. People seem to think that I am just here, waiting for them, all day, every day.

When you have a place of work, that changes. It is a physical location, where nobody lives, which has to be opened up and closed every day it is in operation. Consequently, phrases like “Sorry we’re closed” at 5:30pm, or on Sundays, are understood. Yes, they’re finished for the day. Yes, they’re closed for the weekend. That’s fair enough. That’s because the business is not a person. The business, instead, becomes a trade that takes place at a certain location, a trade that is not run round the clock for obvious reasons of staff and cost.

But a phone number is always on. A home is always lived-in. A  “Sorry, I’m closed” sign on the door makes no sense. Could it be someone’s idea of a subtle joke? Yes, you are closed. You are a door. You usually are closed…

The division between my work and business life has been an utter disaster. I let intrusions on my personal life, such as a work text earlier today starting, “Sorry to bother you on a Sunday but…” – really grind me down. I rant and rave. You aren’t sorry at all, I shout. Could it not have waited?

It could. Of course it could. None of this is life-threateningly urgent. No one will die by waiting until a normal day. No one will die by letting me get a bit of a break.

A break. Wow. I could sure do with one of those. Here’s to my rather optimistic hope of two whole weeks’ break at Christmas and into the New Year.

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Christmas Gets Nearer

Writing posts with titles like this should be a big no-no, because I just know in January I will look at the title of this post and be very depressed.

But I must live in the present.

The big problem I have is that the present is just enjoyable enough.

Today I had a nice day out for several hours with a couple of neighbourly friends. Unfortunately, they are older than my parents, so it makes it not quite as fun as it ought to be, but it was still relaxing.

The major problem is that the rest of the day was conducted dodging three customers  (it is Sunday after all), dealing with two others by text and e-mail, and doing extensive gardening. Not what I should be doing if I am trying to switch off.

Switching off is now impossible. I blame the mobile. It has turned us into an always-on culture.

But after much talk, and various thoughts from endless e-mail newsletters and catalogues through the letterbox, I am starting to think about Christmas, which is, without a doubt, my favourite time of the year, weather notwithstanding.

I just love going to stay at home for a while, seeing my family, and the extended family, and switching off from work completely for at least a week. We all eat a bit too much, but we do things that we don’t normally get a chance to during the year. For instance, I usually play some computer games, something I used to love doing, but don’t get a chance to now. Or even if I do, I wouldn’t because I feel like I should be working.

As I get older every year, I wonder whether each Christmas will be the same. I think of my older sister, who has her own family now. Christmas now for her is very different. She still comes to visit us, but now holds her own “Christmas”. Will I ever “grow up” and do the same? It’s not seeming likely at the moment. Even if I did, and celebrated my own Christmas, I can’t help but feel I would be able to take as much time off as I do…

But for now, Christmas this year is once more something to look forward to. Something to be grateful that it Is approaching quickly, and will therefore give me some brief respite away from the dullness, repetitiveness and downright anger that living here, with my useless housemate, causes me.

Just need to start thinking about presents…

Will I Ever Watch Them?

Life these days is so busy (with work) that I often complain about the fact that I never get a chance to watch TV any more.

In my youth I loved a bit of telly, but once computers arrived they sort of took over, and then they completely became my life. But in recent times, the quality of TV, especially US drama, has hit impressive highs. As a result, I wish I could spend more time watching TV. But usually I miss things on TV, so instead I ask for DVDs, since they make good birthday presents.

That is the theory. Instead, there are DVDs here in my room that haven’t even made it out of the shrink wrap, despite being on birthday and Christmas request lists for the last several years.

The fact that it took me three years to watch The West Wing from start to finish doesn’t bode well. I have a rule: never watch episodes of anything back-to-back. That way you get to stretch it out for longer. I did break that rule with Prison Break series 1, but that was worth it!

But, sadly, my life will not actually include time to watch all of these things I want to watch if I can only squeeze in a DVD episode once every three or four days. Being realistic, I need to be watching something every day, or I will never watch:

  • the rest of Prison Break (currently reached episode 7, series 4, and have been there for about two months)
  • Seinfeld, complete
  • recent Star Trek films
  • The Thick of It
  • Breaking Bad
  • Arrested Development
  • Curb Your Enthusiam
  • The Office (US)
  • Extras
  • House
  • 24
  • Homeland
  • Boston Legal
  • Red Dwarf (in its entirety)
  • Weeds
  • anything by Derren Brown
  • Family Guy
  • last three Harry Potter Films
  • Malcolm in the Middle
  • The Wire

I could go on, but I think that’s more than enough.

You will note that I am quite keen on US drama. I don’t know why that is, but no one does drama like the US. Yes there are many misses, but there is so much stuff being made over there that there are bound to be many classics too. UK drama is sometimes very hard-hitting, sometimes gritty, but usually only made in mini-series, therefore it doesn’t seem to have much time to really get you hooked on great characters and fantastic series narrative arcs.

The only things we seem to do well here in the UK are police dramas, which I don’t particularly find interesting, and period drama, ditto. Sitcoms, we are absolute rubbish at (it’s all been done before).

I used to love sitcoms, but I think as my life has got less joyous, my requirement to keep smiling has disappeared. Malcolm in the Middle might just be my favourite sitcom of all time. Well, at least the first few seasons were. I didn’t see much of the rest, but maybe I will by 2040 (at current watching rates), since they are finally coming out on DVD!

And, of course, new stuff is coming out all the time, so my list is added to at a quicker rate than I can watch them.

Bizarrely, I make more time in my life for shows like X Factor. I still don’t really know why. I should hate everything about corporate supremo X Factor. But something about the show, and my love of all things music, and seeing complete unknowns being given a chance, keeps me interested.

Talking of which, another several hours of my life is about to disappear tonight. Great.