Rainy, cold days make me want to just stay home. They used to bring about wavelets of jealousy for the “work from home” crowd — weak, like the dirty waves in the newly formed puddles during Chennai rains. Very few branches in medicine truly lend themselves to work from home. Even those that do are only suited for minor ailments or follow ups. To make matters worse,telemedicine platforms can have their own quirks — making them a bloody chore.
Then I met a patient who worked in IT. She lived near her company and the ‘commute advantage’ of WFH was non existent. Contrary to my perception, Work from home, didn’t necessarily mean more flexibility — it meant more digital surveillance. MS Teams became a modern day panopticon. The work — life separation was replaced by a dull continuum where work continuously ate into life. A bunch of mid level managerial guys were always there, fixated on some mundate shit — running meeting after meeting, doing almost nothing of substance. She admitted that her job was neither interesting nor meaningful . The only thing that made it tolerable — office gossip, was now gone. If she didn’t have a tummy to feed or a society to please, she probably wouldn’t be on the job.
Such stress, of course takes a toll on health — which is why she had come to the hospital. Remarkably, her brother who accompanied her had a similar story, though he worked in the same midlevel managerial position that she hated so much. He worked in the courier industry — where things have become more and more stressful. He not only had to do meaningless work, but he had to pretend to enjoy it. Otherwise the bosses wouldn’t be happy. It’s almost as if everyone knew what they were doing was a steaming pile of horseshit — but they somehow were forced to act as if it’s the best fragrance known to man.
I thought about medicine and career as a doctor. Sure we have our bad days, but never so bad as to feel utterly pointless. As always, grass is greener on the other side. I briefly considered telling the duo about the trials and tribulations of medicine — if only to make them feel better. A part of me said, it can be perceived as “see we struggle so much ! why can’t you guys just get on with your lives?”. I kept quiet and nodded.
I felt grateful, NOT to work from home.