Perfecting the sham.

Lately I’ve been shamming my way through the work day. I’m reluctant to admit this, because I feel somewhat guilty for whiling away time at the computer doing a whole lotta nothing. On the other hand, I really don’t care.

And that’s what surprises me.

I used to be a recognized up-and comer, a bright and shiny star with the reputation as the go-to person. Like a new copper kettle, I was the standout among old and tired kitchen appliances. I took great pride in staying productive and busy, in accomplishing daily tasks and searching out projects that would streamline work flow and increase efficiencies. Constantly seeking challenges, I was a focused and motivated employee.

And now?

Now I don’t care so much about actually doing work as I do about appearing to do work. I’m a grand façade and I’ve perfected the art of looking engaged and productive. My primary focus at any point in the day is what time is it, and how much longer until I can go home.

At my desk, I monitor my e-mail inbox and reply expeditiously to messages. I return voicemail. I handle various tasks. But I’m not involved in any lengthy, long-range projects. I’m not championing any initiatives. Instead, I am actively planning my dinner menu and drafting grocery lists. I’m organizing my workouts and running my exercise regimens through on-line calculators that measure my caloric burns. I’m investigating cross-country bicycle routes, determining airfares and hotel costs. I read the daily political gossip and check Facebook for interesting posts.

And surprisingly, a day of shamming passes fairly quickly.  Pretty soon I’ve got an 8-hour day under my belt and I’m packing up, logging off and heading out.

I feel a tad bit penitent about essentially wasting a workday, but as I head for home and the city recedes in my rear-view mirror I think less and less about the past eight hours.   Driving west for a few dozen miles, I exit the interstate and reach the mouth of my rural enclave.  The workday has by now faded  and I’m savoring the slow drive along the creek. 

The bumpy, potholed pavement weaves like a drunk, now turning and then twisting until I’m dumped over the one-lane bridge onto a dirt road.  I turn here, and continue to the upper reaches of the valley where my small home perches atop a rise, hugged by huge pines and flanked by well-watered grass and overplanted flowerboxes.  Absolutely unassuming and undeniably welcoming, my home is comfortable and achingly cute.

I’d give up my sham-filled days if I didn’t need them to maintain my cozy and idyllic lifestyle.  If the Great Pumpkin, the Tooth Fairy or God himself would simply square up my mortgage, I’d be back to an honest life. 

Until then, viva la sham!

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