Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Family continuity represented in furniture

 This swivel chair was in the general store my grandfather, John H. McIntyre, operated in Elizaville, Kentucky. He sat in it to keep his accounts and pay his bills. After he died in 1945 and my father, Raymond McIntyre, took on the operation of the store, he sat in it as he kept his accounts. After he was no longer operating the store, the chair was in the Elizaville Post Office, where my mother, Marian Early McIntyre sat in it each month to maintain her postal accounts. After she retired, the chair came to me, and it is now at my desk, where I sit to pay bills and write letters. 

Yes, that is a spittoon on the floor by the desk. 

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Working from home is hardly working

For the past year a desk, table, and chair in the basement have served as my remote newsroom of The Baltimore Sun. My wife, Kathleen Capcara, has had to do a good deal of her work for Trinity Episcopal Church in Towson from our house, making videos at the dining room table and performing other tasks by email and Zoom sessions. 

She has a desk in a neighboring room in the basement. Recently she suggested turning the children's old toy room, between our two desks, into a break room that we could share as colleagues. 

She put out some candies, Gummi Bears (which I detest), and cough drops on a table. I supplied an electric kettle and a selection of teas. We moved the clock above my desk into the break room. 

It has worked out well enough. Since our hours do not usually overlap much, neither my swearing nor her muttering constantly to herself has caused friction. People are clearing their own dishes and cups, emptying the wastebaskets, and refraining from leaving garments and personal possessions strewn about. 

There is room for improvement. Crucially, there is no water cooler around which the staff could gather and exchange gossip. I could bring in a cafetiere, but I refuse to remove the coffee grinder and beans from the kitchen, where they are desperately needed in the morning. 

And frankly, the ambience lacks pizzazz. I proposed setting up an Employee of the Month poster to bolster morale, but the idea has gone nowhere.

What the break room has fundamentally done is to throw into high relief that the management of this outfit stinks. 

I am not suggesting that unionizing is the remedy, but options must be given consideration. 

And now I'm going upstairs.