Porlocked Again

I have been porlocked every day this week, so I’ve decided to change today’s post to one on the virtue of lions.

Coleridge was interrupted while writing a poem by a brush seller. By the time he had got rid of the seller and returned to his page, the soaring words flowing through his head were gone. Thus the poem remained unfinished for the rest of his life. The seller was allegedly from Porlock.

As someone who works from home, I face the same risk: I don’t lose everything, but I do suffer disruption and delay. Every time the telephone rings or the doorbell goes during working hours, I am likely to either be in the middle of working or doing another important task because I’ve decided to flex my day; in exactly the same way that ringing or visiting someone on the factory floor or in the middle of a court case is likely to interrupt them in the middle of working or doing something else.

However – unlike some workers – I don’t have a salary paid for being present during contracted hours. So the time I spend answering and then trying to rebuild whatever remains of where I was before the interruption is lost time. Which makes calls and visits that weren’t urgent annoying: and by that, I mean I will consider urgent (such as my wife has been taken to hospital, or you have a package to deliver). This goes double for companies where I have specified email as my preferred contact method.

Therefore, on behalf of myself and other people who happen to be at work while physically present in their home: if you wouldn’t walk into someone’s office and ask their secretary to pull them out of a meeting to talk about whatever it is, don’t pull us away from our work.

And where do lions fit into this?

There is an ancient aphorism (the person who told it to me said it was from a Veda or Sūtra, but didn’t know which one) that the lion is worthy of his roar.

If you annoy a lion, it will roar. And that roar isn’t because lions are flawed; it’s because it is a quality of lions that they roar when annoyed.

So, if you decide to call me in the middle of the morning to ask if I want to buy a conservatory, it is you who bears the risk I will roar not me who bears a responsibility not to.

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