by Teacher Anon
This time last year I was not working remotely. I was working in an office at a bank, while attending school at night for my Master’s degree. The contrast between my life then and now is very stark indeed. If you had known me back then and had asked me to describe my average day it would have gone something like this.
Even though my work day doesn’t start until 830, I set my alarm for 6 in the morning. I slowly crawl out of the bed and then stumble about the house as quickly as I can manage at such an hour, trying to put myself and everything else together for the day. My high heels hurt my feet, my blazer is itchy, and I just want to climb back into bed under the soft warm blankets. When I leave at 7 the sun is still not up, and I am jealous of it. My fingers are numb by the time I am done scraping off the ice that covers my car. As I drive my car through the cold darkness, to an office fifty miles away from my home, I crack the window so that the bitterly cold air will keep me awake. Although the speed limit is 110 kph, and the snow plows cleared the roads overnight, traffic moves along at a turtle’s pace. That is, when it moves at all. The commuter in the car next to mine makes a rude gesture with his finger that lets me know he is just as excited to be starting his day as I am.
I am frazzled and frustrated by the time I sit down at my desk at 830. As I turn on my computer, one of my coworkers interrupts me to talk about a fight she had with her family last night. I have an important deadline today so I try to type while she talks. Then another coworker arrives and joins in the conversation, complaining dramatically about…I’m not sure what. I pretend to listen and I politely nod and smile, while in reality trying to remember where I left off in my work.
I am finally starting to make a little progress when one of the managers calls a team meeting. These interruptions and distractions play on repeat all day long and in the evening I take my work home unfinished. I am stressed and exhausted just thinking about how late I will have to stay up tonight to get caught up. Of course, that is after I manage to get home. The expressway is gridlocked so instead of one or two hours, tonight my commute will probably take three.
All day, every day, was exactly the same – the same people I had known my whole life, the same conversations about the same things, the same roads leading to the same destination, where the same amount of work still waited for me because nothing ever seemed to get done. I was desperate for things to change and then one day I saw an advertisement about seeking online English teachers…which brings us back to now.
I still set my alarm for 6, but absolutely nothing else about my day is the same as it used to be. I find it strange how much more energy I have in the mornings, and I know that it is because I am not dreading the day to come. I take a sip of hot coffee as I get myself and everything else ready for the day. I’ve traded my high heels for a pair of house slippers, and with winter coming my feet couldn’t be happier.
At just before 7 my commute takes me down the hall from my kitchen to a desk in a back bedroom. I logon to chat with fellow teachers, who are scattered about the globe, can come together each day to talk and share our successes and struggles and strategies. Every day it seems I meet someone new, and I am fascinated by how different each person’s life is from my own. I learn more about geography and history and other cultures here in a single day than I did during all my years as a student. But what interests me more than the differences that I am discovering, is the simple fact that on a fundamental level we are not different at all. Whether I am interacting with teachers, administrators, or students, it amazes me how close and connected I can feel to people who are so far away.
When I’m not collaborating with my colleagues, the rest of my day is spent in the classroom either planning lessons and activities, or teaching the most remarkable little children I have ever met. Although my workday is a fraction of the time that it used to be, I accomplish exponentially more. I am more effective and productive in my work and so I am also less stressed and strained. In fact I would say I’m extraordinarily happy.
Oh, and the best part of all? Now when I spend 3 or 4 hours in my car in a single day it is because I am taking a road trip across the country on vacation, and not because I am driving to work. And all that extra time I have now? I use it to focus on the things that matter most – family, friends, and making memories.