Thursday, March 8, 2012

Work-life balance, which in prior years of my career was carefully filed away with conceits such as friendly leprechauns and heart-healthy bacon, has been abundantly available these last 18 months. With this abundance comes a shortage of late nights in the office, a scarcity I’d gladly embrace any day. All that said, though, there are some nights when you’ve got to pay the piper. It’s just the nature of the beast, you know? It’s especially the case when the beast in question is the Internet, for which no “off” button has been devised yet.

Tonight was a late night. You know the contours, I’m sure, starting with a gradual filing out of your co-workers, followed by the arrival of the cleaning staff, and then, finally, solitude. There’s always this slight twinge of desperation before the last person leaves. It feels like you’ve missed the bus, or maybe everybody else is in on a joke that cruised right over your head. After this twinge subsides, you settle into a reflective mood, scored against a backdrop of silence.

No chatter. No drone of central air. The only thing audible, in fact, was the subdued clacking of my keyboard, punctuated by brief barrages of mouse clicks. And you know what? I wanted to punch myself in the chest. How did we become this, I wondered? I was certain, at that very moment, that the click may be the most noncommittal sound in the world. Then again, given our current trajectory, we may soon be swiping at screens with our pointer fingers in complete quiet. I longed for something more substantial, like the carriage return of a typewriter, or the banging of a mallet. Anything, really, to remind me that I’m more man than mouse.

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