Issue #176 – “Revenge of the Daycrawlers” – October 4th, 2010

-When I first coined the term “daycrawler” in 2006 to describe freelancers, the self-employed, or anyone else who spends most of their day at home, we were looked upon with curiosity by some and scorn by others. It’s not a real job, critics scoffed, unless you have an office, an unflattering ID badge, and a thermostat to fight over. But as the economy has tanked and gas prices have risen, careers that entail working from home are now seen in a new light. Thirtysomethings across the land are discovering what I’ve known for years: wearing nothing more than boxers increases productivity, taking mid-day naps boosts morale, and it’s hard to be accused of sexual harassment if there’s no one around to sexually harass. Our day has finally come. This is the revenge of the daycrawlers.

-Working from home requires discipline, especially where I live. If I walk downstairs to get my mail from the lobby, I usually pass other daycrawlers at the pool. These daycrawlers being out-of-work actresses in bikinis. It takes every fiber of my being to continue back upstairs to my apartment and resume whatever I was working on. If the talent warrants it, though, occasionally I’ll stop and flirt for a bit. That’s what the self-employed call “networking.”

-I haven’t had a boss since I left Wall Street in 2002, and the concept remains foreign to me. Occasionally I’ll look someone up on their company’s web site, and their bio will indicate whom they report to. I just can’t fathom having to report to anyone for anything. Even if I had a superior, what could I possibly run by him or her? “Hey, boss, I’m having a little trouble with this script so I think I’m just gonna spend the next three hours watching Jake and Amir videos and then maybe rub one out. Cool? Also, do you mind if I expense all these beers?”

-To me, being a daycrawler is an art form. In that respect, I pride myself on going as long as possible without leaving my apartment. Since I order almost everything online, including groceries, cook most of my own meals, and work out at a gym in the building, I’ve gone days without leaving. My friends are concerned that I’m becoming borderline agoraphobic. But I can assure them I’m fine. I just hate traffic, human interaction, and wearing pants.

-I’m friendly with a few people in my building, and since they know I rarely leave, I’ve become the trusted source for local breaking news. When there’s a blackout, or a water shut-off due to repairs, I inform my non-daycrawling disciples with breathless real-time updates. As they stew in their offices, ruing the fact that they’ll be returning home after a long, hard day of work to no running water or electricity, I smile at my good fortune. That is until I realize I’m filthy and sitting in the dark.

-Daycrawling does of course have a few drawbacks. For me, the most distressing aspect is that there’s no defined end to my workday. I can’t just pack up my things at five and leave the office and my worries behind. When I’m on the couch at night trying to relax, I can still see my desk and my computer, taunting me, trying to guilt me into getting some more writing done. But then I consider the fact that I haven’t been clean-shaven in nearly four years, and remember the girls downstairs in bikinis, and I know it’s all worth it. I don’t need an office. There’s plenty of opportunity for sexual harassment at the pool.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-My buddy just told me that he never goes to the ATM because his wife regularly checks his wallet to make sure he has enough cash. If he’s running low, she’ll go to the ATM herself and then replenish his wallet without him knowing. That seems like a perk of marriage that’s just not necessary. It’s like when the dealer tries to sell you an option on a new car that you definitely don’t need. No thanks, but I’ll pass on the racing stripe and do my own banking, thank you very much.

-The gear that I lug to the gym has reached bizarre proportions. Besides the requisite iPod and water bottle, I bring a bath towel that I roll up underneath my arm in order to do my shoulder rehab exercises. I also wear a knee brace because I have patellofemoral syndrome, a condition Shermdog explained in Ruminations #158 as “usually only found in twenty-five-year-old chicks.” Then I have my own foam floor mat to do abs and push-ups because I once read the communal ones in the gym can give you a staph infection. And last but not least, I also use weight lifting gloves. Not because I lift anything particularly heavy, but because I’m too obsessive-compulsive to touch the weights directly and my hands are oh so soft from never having done a day of manual labor in my life.

-Why do television interviews conducted via satellite always end so awkwardly? The banter goes great, but as soon as the anchor wraps up the interview and says thank you, the guest just sits there in awkward silence for three seconds. Why have you all of a sudden lost the power of speech? Just respond, “You’re welcome; thanks for having me,” so they can cut away from you and we can all get on with the rest of our lives!

-My personal favorite treat, Auntie Anne’s, closed down in the mall near me. How could this be? Auntie Anne’s is an integral part of every mall, along with obnoxious teenagers, confusing maps, and one outrageously loud Steve Madden store.

-I’ve started to get reminders in the mail to schedule a flu shot, but it’s blazing hot in LA. I know the temperature has nothing to do with whether you catch the flu (at least I don’t think it does), but it just doesn’t seem right to get a flu shot while everyone is still in tank tops and flip-flops. My motto is, “If there’s girls in bikinis, you don’t need vaccine-ees.” Catchy, right? I’ll even let the CDC use it if they want.

-And, finally, a few weeks ago I was in Santa Barbara, getting ready to officiate my buddy Chi’s wedding. As I was putting on the one suit I own, I made a startling discovery: the collar of my shirt wouldn’t button around my neck. It’s been so many years since I’ve worn a tie and had to button my shirt all the way up that I never even thought to try it on before I packed for the trip. After briefly panicking, I just tied the tie knot high and tight so you couldn’t tell my top button was unbuttoned. A crisis was averted, but I interpreted the whole situation not as a harmless oversight, but rather a sign from the cosmos: I was not meant to wear a tie. It’s my destiny to be a daycrawler. The universe wants me to be free from the shackles of cubicles and corporate America. Well, either that or my neck just got fatter. Fuck me.