When you decide to work from home, you give up all those delicious guilty pleasures of office life. Making personal phone calls on the company’s dime. Bringing home office supplies, or bags of coffee, or the occasional fax machine.
I don’t think the reality of self-employment hits home till the first time you go out and buy yourself a box of paper clips. Until that moment, paper clips have simply appeared in the office supply closet, left there late at night by the unseen Paper Clip Fairy. Suddenly you realize that the Paper Clip Fairy doesn’t make house calls.
But there’s no need to despair, my friend. Those of us daring–or foolhardy–enough to wean ourselves from the corporate teat get to wallow in our own share of guilty pleasures.
Like sleep. When I worked in an office, my feet had to hit the cold, hard floor by 6:30 a.m. If I was going to make a timely appearance. And now? My business must open by 9 every morning–so that means I’m out of bed by, oh, 8:45. If I set up the coffee the night before I can stretch it to 8:55.
And what about bathing? For office workers, it’s just one more chore to be raced through on the way to the job. But as a self-employed person, you can linger until your fingertips turn pruney, while listening to a radio station that broadcasts traffic reports. There’s a 90-minute delay on the Long Island Expressway due to a jackknifed paper clip delivery truck? Gee, I guess somebody’s going to be late for work.
The home office is also a haven for hard-core smokers. I’ve read countless articles proclaiming the home-based business boom is a result of national economic conditions, corporate downsizing, computers empowering the individual–heck, I’ve written my share of those articles. But watching a pack of office workers huddled outdoors one bitter January day just for the privilege of sucking down nicotine, I realized where the new crop of entrepreneurs is really coming from.
And for those of us who are electroholics–addicts whose pulses race at the thought of acquiring the latest wonders of the electronic age–a home-based business is a perfect excuse to feed the need. That new lemon-scented hard disk, the waterproof shower pager, and the rechargeable digital envelope moistener are all vital for running my business efficiently. I don’t have to justify my purchases to anyone except, of course, my wife. And if she questions my spending, I have the kicker ready: “This will help me get through my work faster, honey, and that means more time with you.”
And then there’s the guiltiest, most irresistible pleasure of all: Enjoying tales of corporate layoffs. Yes, of course I feel bad for those folks and their families.
But I’m paying nearly twice as much in Social Security as business employees do. And while they pay corporate rates for express delivery, long distance calls, and rental cars, I get the rates reserved for criminals, sinners, and the self-employed. MY health Insurance premium? It’s enough to make me sick.
So when another 200 heads are rolling off the business-suited bodies at FatCat Industries, I kind of enjoy it. I know it’s wrong. But darn it, if you’re going to take on self-employment, you’re entitled to gloat once in a while. I may struggle to pay my bills, work seven-day weeks, and forget what a paid vacation is, but at least I won’t downsize myself out of a job. And if I hear about a new wave of layoffs while I’m listening to my clock radio in bed at 8:55 a.m., so much the better!