COVID-19 Diary: Not Working

This edition of my COVID-19 Diaries features a two-part
anecdotal poem on ‘not working’, combining fragments of conversations and dialogues collected over the past three weeks.


1st July 2020 – PART ONE

“I hate work.”

“I love working.”

“I love work but it’s killing me.”

“I hate work but it’s saving me.”

My friend is 30 and being awarded her ‘Ten Years of Servitude’ new year from the bread company she works for. “I don’t know what it means”, she said.

servitude /ˈsəːvɪtjuːd/ Learn to pronounce

noun: servitude

1. the state of being a slave or completely subject to someone more powerful.
“you’ve got thousands of years of peasant servitude to make up for”

The Freelancer is receiving ‘Ten Years of Serfdom!’ from Fiverr. A special badge, shaped like a gold star and bursting with shards, that they can put on their platform portfolio to make it “really stand out”. For ten days it will appear as the top search result. After that, it’s back to the whim of the algorithm.

The feedback to the last project was “more positive vibes please!”.

I rewrite it with more adverbs – perfectly, seamlessly, uniquely – then send. I get a four-star rating and go to sleep dreaming of seeing one lone twinkle in the sky.

It’s still lock down and working isn’t working (meaning A, or B).

  1. Working is not working out. Whether interrupted by kids, fatigue, or anxiety. Exacerbated distractions.
  2. I’m now less, or unemployed. Not working.

You know which one you are.

“I’m working harder than ever!🤣  – Shannon, aged 23.
“Five hours of SATC on company time… win!” – Anon

Two further options:

  1. Not working. (= Slacker)
  2. Not working. (= Slack™️)

Childhood channel surfing = blissful boredom.
Adulthood Slack channels = bombarding link zone. #inspiration #wellbeing #disruptions

“Who the hell wants to virtual ‘chat’ with their colleagues all day?” – Angry Uncle.

Chat terror landscape. Half my Whatapp is blue dots pinned to ‘reply later’. Why is just the thought of this tiring? Why can’t I do it immediately? The message astronomy of nagging-to-dos grows in constellations.

[In another room on the same street]

“Fine, we can Zoom to discuss.”
“Is Teams okay? It’s our company system”. Fine.
“You’ll have to download the app”. Of course.

Once I find the app, get it, locate the meeting invite, copy in the link, enter a name, fix my hair, and turn on the camera, I’m ten minutes late to the meeting. There’s a gallery view of five people I don’t know. I see plants, books, big open rooms, and a cluttered kitchen. My background is blurred and I suddenly feel like a criminal. (Soon I will learn blurred backgrounds conjure suspicion. They suggest you have something to hide. If you want the job, you had best op for ‘maximum transparency’. (“Be the real you!” – from Top Tips for Freelancers: Online Interviews)

Gallery Head 1: “How’s lockdown treating you?”
Gallery Head 2: “I’m getting stressed out seeing empty shelves at the supermarket. Were you talking to me?”
Gallery Head 4: “You? Stressed? I didn’t think you could get stressed.”

Glitch Lag.

Gallery Head 2: “How dare you.”

Glitch Lag.
Glitch Lag. *That was a weird flex. I know that ‘snap’ is indicative of power relations to come*

Me: “I’ve been working a lot (lie). What can I do for you?”

I get the job. Do I want the job?

I hate work.
I love work! It’s getting me through.

Don’t you dare hate work out loud, you lazy piece.
(*Sigh.* I wish work was nonessential).

3rd July 2020 – PART TWO

It’s ten o’clock. Break time.
AM or PM? After Mourning? Pre Movie?

Welcome to r/COVID19_support, “a place to come for support.”

This is a subreddit offering help and support for those feeling overwhelmed by the news on COVID19. It a place to share advice, coping mechanisms and to feel calm and supported. Please do NOT discuss policies or politics relating to lockdown restrictions or easing, mask wearing or other planning strategies here.

[Warning: Majority of the advice is “get therapy”.]

u/JenniferColeRhuk explains there is zero tolerance for redditors who don’t show other users support, especially if they’re provoking others. People can get banned for telling someone to “get a grip.”



In the Simpsons episode titled ‘The Winter of Our Monetized Content’ (S1E31) a video of Bart and Homer fighting goes viral. They begin a journey as social media celebrities, eventually entering a public arena dressed like gladiators for a show called Mortal Kombat Live Online. Bart is armed with a whip made of leather netting (a brand endorsement for Netflix), and Homer wields an axe (endorsing Axe body spray). They can’t get themselves to fight to the death and their video gets only one view.

The Superspreader was out and about last Saturday night in Zurich, dancing at The Flamingo Club. Over 300 revellers have been instructed to enter into quarantine. “It’s really not a cool club. How embarrassing,” a local tells me.

An assessment of the guest list submitted by the club showed fake names, email addresses and incorrect telephone numbers, while authorities also believe not all attendees were required to fill it out completely.

“If I was going there, I would use a fake name too,” she continues.

Somebody has bought the domain for Instagram handle @superspreader is a private account.

At a crowded picnic by the river, somebody yells out “It’s the Superspreader!”, heads turn and laughter erupts. The tragedy has turned comedy and we float on humour for the rest of the night/week/year.

I over hear a conversation nearby, “Did you get the email, subject line: Let Go?”

The colleague responds, “I thought that was a relaxation meditation?”


Jess Henderson

Jess Henderson, founder of No Fun and Outsider, is an independent writer and researcher based in Zürich and Amsterdam. She is the author of Offline Matters: The Less-Digital Guide to Creative Work (Amsterdam: BIS Publishers, 2020), and is currently undertaking the first transdisciplinary study of the burnout.