Day 19 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Friday, April 3, 2020 – Live to Blog from My WFH Space


Our next door neighbor (with whom we share a wall) alerted me to a new problem that has arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic (like we needed another one, right?): the noisy people who are supposed to be working from home (WFH). It seems to be an issue especially for people who live in apartments and condos. The loudest problem sounds are coming from people who are new to working at home. They either don’t know they are being loud or don’t care they are being loud. Let’s assume good intentions though. As a public service in support of all those who are being disturbed, I will use this posting to educate the noisy among us to the etiquette of working at home.

To do this, I decided to turn to an expert in working at home, Clemencia. So I went to her office where she has been busily working to prepare her Zoom Spanish classes for next week to engage her in an interview.

Authentic Cowboy Boots
  • Me (walking into her office, sitting on her couch, and kicking off my boots): Mi amor, sorry to interrupt but I need your help on the blog I’m writing today.
  • Clemencia (looking up, slightly annoyed): Que, que? Really? Now, what are you going to write about me?
  • Me (sweetly): Oh, mi amor, only the most wonderful, truthful things you could ever imagine!
  • Clemencia (with a raised eyebrow and a long pause): But I get to approve it first, right?
  • Me (with my hand over my heart): Absolutely! I promise!
  • Clemencia: Fine then. So what’s this about?
  • Me: I want to interview you about what it is like to work at home.
  • Clemencia: Cielo, you know I’m retired, right?
  • Me: Si, me amor, but you have been working on preparing your Spanish classes and then teaching them online from home. It seems to me you are working nearly as hard as you did when you were at the University.
  • Clemencia: That’s sweet of you to say. So, what do you want to know?
  • Me: You are an expert at working at home but not everyone is. What’s it like to try to work at home and have noisy working neighbors?
  • Clemencia (puzzled): Cielo, we don’t have noisy neighbors. Everyone on our floor is retired, except you and the woman across the hall, but she works at home all the time…like you say you do.
  • Me: I know and it would be GREAT if you could talk about how you manage the noise that comes from her place, since your office shares a common wall with her unit.
  • Clemencia (now looking suspiciously at me again): Tom..she isn’t noisy.
  • Me (disappointed): Are you sure? I think I can hear her.
  • Clemencia: That’s not her. That’s the snoring dog under my desk.
  • Me (still disappointed): Oh. Well, I was wanting to write something about the etiquette people should follow when working at home. You know, so they don’t disturb others.
  • Clemencia (sudden engaged): Oh! That I can help you with! What do you need to know?
  • Me (excitedly): Just give me some basic rules of etiquette people working at home should follow so that they don’t disturb their neighbors, who may also be trying to work from home.
  • Clemencia: Okay, here’s the first one: Don’t blast the radio news in the morning, even if it is NPR.
  • Me: Great! That’s a good one! What else you got?
  • Clemencia: Don’t stomp across the hardwood floors in your cowboy boots.
  • Me: Yes! That’s right! What’s next?
  • Clemencia: If you haven’t played your alto saxophone for nearly 50 years, this is NOT a good time to take it up again.
  • Me: Oh, yeah! Your on fire! Keep going!
  • Clemencia: Do not yell from your office to other people in your unit when you’ve got a question for them. Get up and go ask them. You need the exercise anyway since you can’t leave the house…but don’t stomp across the floor!
  • Me: That’s really good…it has a positive health message too!
  • Clemencia: Here’s my last one…Do not interrupt people with stupid questions, period. Do not open the door and walk into their office without knocking. Do not call them on your cell phone or text them. Just let them do their work in peace until they come out and join you for lunch, as was discussed and planned less than 30 minutes ago.
  • Me: Oh, mi amor! These are excellent! Thanks so much! I think I’ve got what I need. You’re great.
  • Clemencia (with an impatient smile): I’m glad to help, cielo. Now, I really need to get back to what I was doing.
  • Me (pulling on my boots): Absolutely! Thanks for your time! I’ll see you at lunch in about 15 minutes.
  • Clemencia: Yes, cielo, I’ll be out for lunch soon. (Pauses, sniffs) Have your boots always smelled like that?
  • Me (hurriedly pulling on the last one, forgetting I had exposed Bert and Ernie): Oh, yes, yes, they have. They are cowboy boots you know. These I got in San Antonio and they were made to recreate some of the authentic fragrances of the farm and Old West.
Radio that gets only National Public Radio

I left her office, stomped across our hardwood floors, turned on my radio to NPR, sat down to write this blog, and, just before starting to write, yelled out to her: “Mi amor! I forgot again…what are we having for lunch?”

BYON Virtual Coffee Break/Happy Hour, Thursday, April 9, 5:00 PM. Send me a comment or email if you’d like to join.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and remember to be a good neighbor while you work at home.


Author: Tom Klaus

My name is Tom Klaus and I am the founder and president of Tenacious Change. I am convinced the secret to almost any good thing happening among people is relational trust. Want to be loved by your spouse, children, and family? Want to work well with others? Want to be an effective leader? Want to help your neighborhood, community, state, or country change for the good? Want world peace...actually, peace with anyone? Building relational trust is when fear, animosity, conflict, and the status quo begins to transform into cooperation, respect, collaboration, peace, and working together for social change and the greater good of all. A good day for me is when I can help social profit, nonprofit, and public leaders and their organizations grasp the importance of relational trust, let it guide their decision making, and inform their strategy. This is just one of the ways that I am animating and equipping leaders, organizations, and communities to lead change for the greater good. Tenacious Change is about changing forward into a future that prioritizes the greater good for all. We can do this better together. Come on along!

2 thoughts on “Day 19 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place”

  1. In your favor-you Did remember to write down what she said, thankfully it was unnecessary to go back (or, in your case-yell) to ask-what was it that you said, mi amor?

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