The dude with the drums moved in next door on a Saturday without much fanfare, and by Sunday he was playing. He could certainly play, don't get me wrong.
This wasn't a case of a 13-year-old whose parents - damn them to hell and back again - decide drums provide a safe alternative pathway for young Brandynne to let off steam and avoid the juvenile justice centre that would otherwise be inevitable.
No, the dude next door practised in bursts that showed he'd been hitting the polyethylene terephthalate drum head for years (apparently they had largely shed animal skins by the 1950s) - and his stick work was impressive.
Except I work from home (WFH), and his random 10.30am, 3.13pm or even 5.45pm drum sessions only metres away became a CPITB - complete pain in the backside - requiring a FFRFAIN - full-frontal response from an irate neighbour - to address. But we'll get back to him in a minute.
I'm writing this today after 12 years of WFH, to recount its joys and perils as coronavirus forces thousands of Australians to do the same. And note how quickly corporatese has leapt ahead of us despite these uncertain times.
WFH is now a recognisable acronym. I've already given you a paragraph chock full of WFH, CPITB and FFRFAIN to show that just because you're working in your teenage daughter's room - because the wobbly internet connection is slightly less wobbly on the eastern side of the house - doesn't mean you can't keep writing unintelligible sentences in true corporate style. But with a homey touch.
"Hi Janet, I've sent off the Adler report but had a TMT (toddler mega-tantrum) to deal with before the DAMF (dog ate my file) requiring a QTTTV (quick trip to the vet) because it's Bob's WFTCD (working from the car day) near the Telstra Tower owing to our CIS (crap internet service) which dies if we're both on it. It's my WFTCD tomorrow so at least I won't have the toddler, although the vet said I'll probably have to keep Ralph with me because of the anaesthetic. BTW the FIF (file is f---ed). LOL."
This is the kind of inter-WFH email that can only be written now that you're WFH. Congrats.
Newly minted WFHers have rushed up to me, worried about the impact of WFH on their weight, which is comforting in a way. If the worst you're facing is fighting the urge to eat while you're still employed and paid, but at home, then that's not a bad thing. I don't like to say "get over it, at least you've got an income", but it looks like I just did so... moving right along.
The following is not an exact rendering of a number of conversations I've either had with people this week or I've overheard, but it's near enough.
Friend: "I'm set up at the dining room table. The fridge is four steps away and I know that because I've counted, each time I've walked over to eat something. When you're at work you can't keep walking to the kitchen because everyone can see you. But at home... I had five coffees and eight Tim Tams before lunch yesterday. On my first day WFH. We've been told this could go on for months. I'll be a blimp by the end of the month."
A particular WFH hazard, I agree, but glass half full. WFH means no more striving to fit into business suits and work gear to impress others or keep up the corporate look. I'm writing this while wearing a pair of jeans with more holes than denim that I normally reserve for gardening, an old T-shirt and a favourite pair of fluffy socks because it's cool underfoot and cloudy outside. And the cat doesn't care.
When this wild coronavirus ride we're on finally ends, you'll resent having to dress up for WAW (work at work) again, chubbier you or not.
When the drummer dude moved in next door I'd been WFH for about a decade. My dog liked the arrangement. My adult sons liked it. At various times I've been the DPR (designated parcel recipient), the NPB (new puppy babysitter), the general ERBIAH (emergency responder because I'm at home) and the DG (dependable grandma) who can look after a newborn or toddler for an hour or two.
All of the above can make for IS (interesting situations). Too many government ministers, public servants, work colleagues, business representatives, corporate spokespeople, community and environment groups and members of the public know that I babysat my middle son's little yappy puppy for part of each day for a few months about five years ago.
Me: "So Minister, you've been caught diddling your travel allowance/telling a porky/acting like a goat again recently, what's your response to..."
Cue yappy puppy upstairs going berserk because a moth has just fluttered by a window and she thinks we're under attack.
Minister: "WHAT? I CAN'T HEAR YOU."
Me, running upstairs while yelling into the phone: "Just a MINUTE... I just have to get the... Charli, shut the hell up. CHARLI, GET BACK HERE YOU *&%$@ DOG."
Minister: "WHAT? ARE YOU THERE?"
Put that on repeat for a minute or so until the minister hangs up and you get a picture of what that short but memorable period of my WFH life was like.
I once worked at home while the people next door extended their house. Even now I have flashbacks to that terribIe time, if I catch anything heavy metal or a Sydney shock jock in full flight, which is a tradie's mandatory radio range. Also mandatory is that the volume must be high enough to be heard over a drop saw and a jackhammer, running simultaneously, or from two suburbs away.
The drummer dude from next door, on the other hand, went in for the classics - Led Zeppelin's Moby Dick, Cream's Toad and Ticks and Leeches by Tool.
And no, of course I don't have a clue what those songs actually sound like. I thank Google and YouTube for their "Best Drum Solos Ever", but the dude next door's efforts sounded like they were pretty damn good to someone like me. But way, way, way too loud, even at noon.
It didn't help that the position of his drum room in relation to my office appeared to give the kind of enhanced acoustics that Sydney Opera House musicians can only dream of. My walls vibrated. My teeth rattled. The part of my brain that allows me to talk and think recoiled into dark recesses until the noise passed.
In a WFH environment something had to give, and so my patience went, followed closely by him to a noisier place. Because when the whole neighbourhood's WFH, everyone can hear you scream.