I have always worked a 40-hour workweek, the sort of traditional 9-to-5, eight hours a day situation that you envision when you think of having a job as a little kid: an ineffectual copy machine in the corner whirring out endless documents, a burbling water cooler that serves as the center for awkward conversation, the communal fridge that gapes with brought-from-home lunches and stray beers. I go to work every day, I sit down at a desk, push a mouse around for a little bit, eat a sad desk salad, and return to my home. This is the glory, this is the life of a modern employee, and for some, the itinerant, the lost the wandering—this is the dream.
I have a friend who has always glamorized the office job, talking to me about how she wished she could just work a “normal” job, like everyone else. At the time, she lived with her boyfriend on a farm outside Boston, doing whatever needed to be done—tending the farm stand, getting a fledgling CSA program off the ground, raising honeybees and harvesting her own honey, all the while enjoying free health care from Massachusetts. While the rest of us withered under the hum of fluorescent lights trying to figure out how to make a pivot table in Excel, she was doing the kind of work that is the dream of the modern office employee — working outside, answering to no one, turning freckled and strong under a summer sun. The work she did was precisely the kind of work that so many earnest office workers turned to after they were worn down by the rat race, leaving New York and starting organic goat cheese companies in Hudson.