A policeman took my name and address last Wednesday – my dog was barking at his horse, and I was on the phone. Usually I avoid calls when I’m walking the dog, precisely because you can’t concentrate on two things at once, but this was a work-related call, and I’d been trying to get hold of the person concerned, and I just thought I’d take two minutes “out” to deal with it.
So I was sat on a bench, engrossed in my call. I didn’t notice the crowd that had gathered round my “cute” dog. An old lady, a couple of mums with buggies, a few toddlers and children – and the policeman on his horse. My small Schnauzer was in the middle, terrified – barking blue murder at the lot of them.
A few years ago I saw a woman in a business suit crossing a tricky road while talking loudly on the phone. She had two small children with her, on scooters – also trying to cross the road. The combination of work + busy road + toddlers wasn’t good – but then she probably didn’t plan it that way.
We have the technology to work where we like – and that flexibility makes work a lot easier. But work and the “real” world don’t necessarily mix – all too often, unconsciously, we rely on strangers to look out for us.
After a while, my policeman softened. There’s been an increase in complaints about the behaviour of dogs in this area, he said – and a lot of dog owners are constantly on their phones. The situation is “out of control”, he said. He seemed genuinely despairing.
As businesses downsize and remote working becomes the norm, who’s really picking up the tab?
Note: Teleworkers are (still!) defined in the Collins English Dictionary as “people who work from home using equipment such as telephones, fax machines and modems”.
Photo: This Year’s Love