Particularly apt, this post, given the number of us working from home. Dislaimer: I’m not part of the WFH generation, I still go out into the big, bad world to make money. So I need home to remain an oasis of calm in this 2019-nCoV world. So, how does one go about motivating those that now call your Fallout 4 computer their workstation to return to work? The answer, of course, is by being as annoying as possible, or magna molestia as I’m sure no Latinate individual said ever. For those new to the art, here are a few suggestions that will endear you to absolutely nobody.

Firstly, interrupt the WFH’er on the hour, every hour. Wanna coffee? Can I get you something? Is my music up too loud? What do you think of these sweat pants? Have you seen my sock? Its your turn to feed the cats. OH MY GOD I need to poo! Hey, do you wanna coffee? You can train your pets to help by cutely standing on the keyboard, or playfully knocking pencils off the desk, or by whining piteously beside the office chair to be let outside. Between you, the joy of working unfettered by a dull commute can be offset by unwanted distractions and maximum time-wastage. When their boss realises they are only 13% as productive at home as they are at work, it will be like “Virus? What virus? Get your lazy ass back here!” We’ll have our calm oases back in no time.

Alternately, you could just walk around in your underwear. This probably works better for us dudes than it does for the dudettes because IMHO there’s nothing annoying about a woman walking around in her underwear. Me, on the other hand, I have several pairs of Icebreaker merino boxers that are no longer fit for purpose. Moths turn their probosci up in disgust. I think the fabric now is more matted pubes than wool. Because the unexpected sight of someone’s gonads is always a nasty shock, move past the initial horror to mounting umbrage at being confronted by someone re-tucking their detestables at every turn. Works a treat. Offer to make someone a luncheon sandwich after you’ve been chasing an itch in your jocks and see how long they remain polite. Not long, trust me.

Thirdly, you can do annoyingly fun stuff while they’re not. When they’re formulae deep in some Excel workbook, laugh your tits off in another room to some burbling YouTube stand-up comedy, or sprawl on the lounge reading something witty: this is particularly annoying if you relish a turn of phrase by reading it again aloud: ““cur tailed” he says! O’Brien, you are a genius” followed by much mirthful chortling. This is annoying as hell because nobody actually enjoys others enjoying themselves. It’s a lie we’re taught by our parents. “Are you having fun, sweetie? Oh, that’s good! You play soldiers in the sandpit while I finish up the dishes and then get on to THE FUCKING IRONING!” I don’t remember my mother actually saying that; she probably did, but most (ie yours, not mine) children are annoying little shitheads.

Lastly, (because more than a handful of annoying’s wasted) and probably the single most annoying thing you can do, is try to be helpful. This is more subtle than it sounds, because it involves not actually being helpful. For example, when offering to do the groceries send at least one text from every supermarket aisle: so do we want to organic WeetBix or regular — is a kilo of crushed tomatoes the same as a litre coz the can says litre — what aisles the tofu in I can’t find it — you want rice milk instead of soy the’re outta soy — i don’t think ‘lady finger bananas’ is appropriate — that sort of thing. Unhelpful works in the garden too, if you can’t distinguish a groundcover from a weed; or in the laundry, if you think silky unmentionables can go in with your prospeting pants; and in the kitchen, if tbsp is apparently confusable with tbs, then you are on track to living alone very soon. So easy. So effective. It may end in divorce, but at least you’ll have the sofa to yourself.

There’s more, but why give away all my secrets. With a little ingenuity, I’m sure your tailor-made annoyances will soon restore the rpre-CV19 status quo. The holy grail, after all, is a world of our own making. Don’t let some stupid killy virus upset your equanimity. But don’t upset your loved ones either. At the end of the day, if she really want to watch Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again (2018) on Netflix then grit your teeth big-boy and endure. You can get your revenge by making her sit through Spencer Confidential.

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