I miss my cubicle and co-workers but am making the best of it

One of my long-time favorite hobbies has been collecting quotations from wherever I can find them. The other day, I picked up an old woodworking book and found this gem that I must share:

“Your skill in carpentry is limited by two things: aptitude and attitude. You may think you don’t have an aptitude for carpentry when, in fact, it is your attitude that is holding you back.” David and Jeanie Stiles wrote that in “Woodworking Simplified.”

Can you guess why this quote is so great? Because you can use it for anything you are trying to do or want to learn. Substitute any of the following for carpentry and it’s just as good:

— Guitar playing;

— Ballroom dancing;

— Swimming; or

— Learning Mandarin

I’ve always said that, no matter how bad things get, there is one thing that you and you alone can control, and that is your attitude. Truly, learning how to do that is really the key to being productive; engaged; and, if not outright happy, at least satisfied or content.

All of us have had our worlds changed due to coronavirus and its many ramifications. I’ve not been able to see my grandson in months.

Worse than that, the Guilderland Public Library is closed. Not having access to my library is probably the worst part of the virus for me and I know many, many others. So many services are just on hold.

If you don’t believe me, sign up for your library’s RSS feed (Really Simple Syndication, a type of daily web update that you can receive in many ways) and watch all the canceled activities come through. It’s so sad.

Still, because I can’t get my book fix, I dug out this old woodworking book and came upon this quote. So there.

When I first got into IT (Information Technology), one of the attractions was that someday I’d be able to work from home. Back in those days, I was living in Brooklyn and working in Manhattan, so anything that could keep me out of subways, buses, bridges, and tunnels was something I wanted.

Then, when I finally got an IT job, my life became enmeshed with four-inch thick IBM manuals and the other tools of the trade that could only be found in the office. Plus, no matter how good the technology became, you can do more in a five minute, face-to-face conversation with a co-worker than in hundreds of emails, texts, or face-times.

So I never wound up becoming a telecommuter, but with the coronavirus I was directed, for the first time in my career, to work from home if possible.

Mind you, just because you have the ability to work from home doesn’t mean it’s provided for you. In my case, I’m using a second-hand desk in a spare room with a cheap Windows laptop computer I bought a few years ago.

The chair I have cost $5 at an office-surplus store. The keyboard is from some older computer that I long ago binned, and the monitor is one my son tossed out a long time ago. Using this patchwork mix of equipment has changed my normal 20-minute, 10-mile commute to a simple walk downstairs.

No doubt there are some advantages to telecommuting. I can be in my pajamas all day; see beautiful birds outside my window; stretch or run in place between tasks; and use my own bathroom.

But I still miss my Dilbert-like cubicle and being in close proximity to my co-workers. It’s just not the same having us all be separated like this.

We are all forcing ourselves to change our attitude about this because we have to, of course; “social distancing” is a necessity in these dire times. But, like retired athletes always tell you, they miss the camaraderie of the locker room most of all. Believe it or not, cubicle dwellers like me miss the water cooler and its social aspects just as much.

So here is where it’s all about attitude. We need to learn to use this forced time at home to our advantage. That saved commuting time is found time.

In my case, I can use it to practice guitar, exercise, or clean up my messy garage and workbenches. Those are all great things that I need to do more of. You have things you can do with this found time as well. Take advantage of it now as it won’t last forever (at least we hope it won’t last forever).

Let’s not forget our friends and neighbors during these tough times. The restaurants are closed but are open for take-out, so put in an order. And be sure to thank the clerks in the stores that are open — supermarkets, hardware stores, etc. They are making it possible to have some semblance of normalcy. That is so great. Let’s make sure we support them as much as we can.

Truly, attitude is the one thing we can all control, and we need to control it now more than ever. Good luck and stay positive!