Sunday, April 25, 2021
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.