Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.
Today I got all four-letter-words kind of mad.
A customer talked to my manager and while giving feedback had some comments about me. This customer said that “one time while on the phone someone in the company heard a child in the background so I must have been working from home.” This person followed up by saying that working from home was okay.
Well, no, working from home wasn’t okay, or the customer would not have mentioned it. Working while children are around also isn’t okay, or it would not have been commented on either. Only if something is remarkable is it remarked upon. It must have bothered this person enough for them to remember it.
I cannot say when I talked to someone in the company and my children were present. It could have been while I was driving them to school or picking them up at the end of the day. It could have been when they were on vacation or home sick. It could have been when we were at the doctor or dentist or therapist or ophthalmologist. I’ve had work conversations in most of these times and locations.
My industry, international logistics, is 24/7, so I don’t stop answering the phone because I’m not sitting at my desk. In fact, I recently changed jobs, and a huge reason for that was so that I could have a flexible schedule for my children. They needed their mother more than the 8-to-6 office gig did, so I found an awesome job with an amazing company.
At first I was going to write the comment off due to the person’s gender and age, then I realized that doesn’t matter.
I won’t apologize if you’re 25 and think that having a dog is just like having a child. I won’t apologize if you’re a power parent with a spouse/nanny/parent who manages the children while you climb the career ladder. I won’t apologize if the kids are in college and you have free time to brush up on your tennis serve. I won’t apologize if the children have been gone so long that you don’t remember how to change diapers or wipe a runny nose. And I won’t apologize if you never had kids and don’t understand what becoming a secondary priority in your own life is like.
The real question here is how do I react to it. Do I act like nothing has happened and continue to annoy the customer (and possibly others who haven’t spoken to my manager yet)? Do I no longer take calls if my children are present (and miss opportunities to increase my revenue)?
Eventually this will pass, but Ace is still a toddler and Sweetpea is in preschool. The time when they truly understand to not bother Mommy when she’s on the phone is far in the future. I cannot expect them to be more than what they are — children.
So I’m not quite sure what to do.
I assure you, given the choice between sitting in the office with the stocked fridge, shiny coffee maker, delivered lunches, and coworkers to unload the company dishwasher OR spending time with a child sick with the stomach flu, I would choose option A every time. I enjoy my job and I enjoy my company. No one likes being with a sick kid.
But the sick kid doesn’t want to be with anyone else more than their parents, especially when they aren’t feeling great. You have to be there for them when they need you.
I also want to help my customers and be available for them. So don’t you dare judge me if I’m trying to balance my commitment to my family with answering your calls. If push comes to shove, then I’m going to chose my family and you can go to voicemail. You should feel honored that I took time away from my family who I love and cherish to answer your call.
If you have a coworker who is home sick with the baby AGAIN, or is ALWAYS leaving early to go to a sports thing, or comes in late because it’s summertime and the babysitter ran late, YEAH RIGHT, don’t give them any grief.
You aren’t the time police. It isn’t your job to decide what is most important in their life. Don’t judge them or look down on them because they were doing something that they probably didn’t have fun doing in the first place.
I recommend complaining about those other coworkers who take the amazing vacations and post pictures that look like Travel Magazine photo spreads. They were having too much FUN while everyone else was picking up their slack. (Actually, shaming people for using their vacation days is another shitty thing that Americans do that I can’t stand. I’m being 101% sarcastic here.)
This has been your Public Service Announcement. I apologize for the less-than-upbeat post, but words had to be said.