Working from home in the Hills
Working from home is pure luxury. That’s what you tell yourself, as you revel in your new freedom. You’re now free to juggle activities around work related deadlines, instead of cramming them in at night and on weekends. How good is that?
Activities like the washing, grocery shopping, dog washing, cooking and cleaning.
Of course, you’ll now need to fit those in around new activities that will be added to your to-do list because you work from home. You’re about to become the port of call for errands that the “working people” you know can’t do because they’re going to be at work. And you’re not — you’re going to be at home, which by definition apparently means you’re not really working.
If you don’t become a no-to person, you’ll become a go-to person — a concierge, chauffeur and courier who books tickets, fetches dry cleaning, picks up the party supplies and transports people and pets.
Say “yes” a few times and there’ll soon be conclusive evidence to back up this theory that you don’t do much work, because if you did then clearly you wouldn’t have time to book tickets, fetch dry cleaning, pick up party supplies and transport people and pets, would you?
But seriously, working from home is brilliant. In the illuminating sense. If you’re away at work all day, you don’t know what you’re missing in your neighbourhood. Really, you don’t.

Now showing near you…
If you worked from home with a view to your street, you’d get a fascinating new insight into your neighbourhood. Unfortunately, that might feel like you’re watching a bad movie — one that’s a curious cross between Underbelly, Home Alone and The Beverley Hillbillies.
You’d be surprised how many people, other than the postman, take an interest in your mailbox during the day, how many pedestrians pause to peer into parked vehicles as they pass, and how frequently people cruise the neighbourhood looking for opportunities.
When you’re new to working from home you’re happily oblivious, but your subconscious mind cleverly registers information about what’s usual, and what’s unusual. Soon, you’ll filter out all regular goings on, and look up only when something out of place triggers your radar. You’ll learn to quickly categorise the people you see passing — resident, visitor, thief, intoxicated, high, and delivery driver.
A year in and you might know more than you ever wanted to about the people who live around you. You’ll know which ones have rooms listed on Airbnb. You’ll realise that the houses with the constant stream of five-minute visitors who park around the corner rather than outside the house, belong to the local drug dealers. And you’ll learn that the categories resident, visitor, thief, intoxicated, high, and delivery driver are not as mutually exclusive as you’d expect.
You’ll be shocked by what you see going on during daylight hours. At first.
Then follows inappropriate bemusement that you now recognise not only the residents from a great distance, but also the drug dealer’s customers, and one or two of the regular mail thieves.
You’ll always remember those first few months, before the novel became routine. I spotted several different people rifling through my mailbox, chased off someone who was about to steal something from a lawnmowing contractor’s utility, and caught a burglar about to break into my house through the back sliding door.
I’m not sure which of us was more surprised when I opened the sliding door and casually asked him what he was doing. He blurted out the lamest excuse ever — that he was looking for the St Vincent de Paul shop. In the second it took to process the implausibility of that, we both came to our senses. He made a run for it, and I realised what a thoroughly stupid idea it had been to open the door at all.
What the hell was I thinking? That this was a safe neighbourhood? We do have a low crime rate around here, apparently.

Statistically speaking…
Speaking of statistics, did you know that something can be “statistically true” and not at all true in reality?
Statistically, the average age of residents in your street might be 42, but for that to be true there doesn’t have to be a single resident who is 42. And so you can have a statistical characterisation that doesn’t accurately represent any person in the group being described. And of course, if the data collectors were a bit lazy, and skipped a few houses to reduce their paperwork, then the average of 42 wouldn’t be accurate statistically or in reality.
What was I saying? Oh yes, local crime. Well, what more can I say? Clearly the answer isn’t 42, but if you’re about to start working from home, don’t panic, because statistically you’re much safer here than in many other areas.
Meanwhile, back in reality, keep your doors, windows and gates locked, keep a casual eye on the local crims, and try to keep up with your workload in between those chores you now have the luxury of doing during the day, while you’re not-really-working from home.