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March 9, 2000

We run a loose ship here at the Home Office. Our dress code is quite liberal, and our daily routine is unstructured and unsupervised. Deadlines, in general, are a myth. Schedule? We laugh at schedule. Schedule is for the little folk, in their stiff shirts and creased pants and polished shoes. Those are other things we laugh at in the Home Office, where we often answer the phone in our pajamas.

For the next few days, though, I am on my best behavior. I'm using my company manners. I'm even wearing shoes. The Big Kahuna has hit the beach, and it's time for the sand crabs to dive for cover. No lingering, no loitering.

Yes, the Boss is just seven miles away. He's spending the next few days at his ex-wife's house in Rohnert Park. He had a meeting with an attorney yesterday and he has a court date next Tuesday, and in between he'll be in the area, spreading joy to the masses.

As much as I whine about my job, I'm blessed with having little direct supervision. The Boss spends most of his time in another office in another state, hundreds of miles out of snooping range. He tells me what he wants done, and I either do it or tell him why I can't. Because I eventually complete all projects, I'm given a long leash. It's the velvety, non-chafing kind. Not designer label, maybe, but a high quality knockoff.

So I may not be sleeping in as late Friday morning. And I'm having lunch with him Monday, to deliver his copies of the Big Project. With a weekend in between, I guess I can manage to drag myself out of bed on time for a couple of days. But I know how those days will go, because whenever he travels he takes his whole office with him, including the fax machine with speed dial button number one set for the Home Office.

It's important to be reminded every so often of how good I have it. When I complain about the drudgery of the work and the low pay, I'm taking for granted the freedom I have here. A little fear of the lord of the manor, taken in small doses, can restore some perspective and make me truly appreciative.

And it works both ways. He doesn't see me for months at a time, and I become the voice at the other end of the phone. I need to remind him that it's a real person here giving him what he asks for. Believe it or not, I take pride in the quality of my work, and I like to have him look me in the eye occasionally and tell me he values what I do.

Even so, I will be grateful when the Home Office turns back into an isolated outpost in the Company's vast holdings. I'm much more comfortable and probably more productive in sweats and slippers. I'll even have to change into my good jeans for lunch Monday. I hope I remember to shave.

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