I‘ve worked at my alma mater for 19 years, creeping slowly from part-time, grant-funded, benefit-less, four-figure-annual-salary-earning pawn to bona fide, fully vested, state-pin-owning Director of Decision Support (a Monty Python-worthy title if ever there was one).
On my beloved campus, I have lived through fire, flood, furlough days, earthquake, snow, ice, mice, bee swarms, iguanas on the loose, pickpockets, irate and unstable students, irater and unstabler faculty, eight different jobs, five bosses, and three presidents.
The Owens fire of 2010, which destroyed 21 classrooms, 2 computer labs, and 2 offices (one of them mine)
The Main Hall bee swarm of 2015 which, as far as I know, involved no casualties
That list actually only scrapes the surface of the things mine eyes have seen these last couple decades. In order to get a more exhaustive story, you will have to someday be invited to one of my top secret, exclusive, Cards Against WUmanity game nights and take a solemn blood oath of secrecy.
All that is to say that just when I thought I’d seen and experienced it all, today marked another major unexpected milestone in my career.
For the first time ever, today I worked in pajama pants and fuzzy slippers and, briefly, with a Pomeranian perched on my lap.
It was probably the pinnacle of my working life.
You see, Staff Assembly sponsored a Halloween costume contest with prizes for the best individual and best group costumes. I’m not normally one to go in for that sort of thing, but at some point it occurred to me that this was a rare, golden opportunity to wear the cute, overpriced, woodland creature PJ pants that my sweet husband bought me somewhere other than my home, so I pitched the idea to my coworkers.
There was some hesitation, but I argued that the beauty of Halloween is you get to dress up as some kind of strange, wonderful, imaginary being, living a life you can only fantasize about. In our case, that fantastic, enviable creature would be a telecommuter.
I know a handful of freakishly lucky people who get to work from home, and they all confirm what I have always suspected: it is a magical state of existence, where you stay in your PJs all day, don’t bother with showers and makeup, and enjoy the comforting, stress-alleviating company of your pets whenever you need it.
When I put it that way, I got total office buy-in to the plan.
I knew there would be other people on campus in elaborate, clever costumes who would win the actual prize. That was not my concern. I had a different prize in mind, and it was even better than I imagined.
Getting ready for work was never so relaxed. I didn’t have to think about what I was going to wear, if it was wrinkled, if the top matched the bottom and the shoes, whether my eyeliner was going to end up going all wonky or if my mascara would get smudged on my eyelid (hey, eye makeup is hard when you have astigmatism). Then in the office, we got to experience the joy of wearing soft, “easy pants” (the term my young, in-the-know colleague assured me is now being used to market PJ pants) and warm fuzzy slippers in a normally straight-laced environment.
Not to mention: a puppy to pet! And my coworker who wasn’t into the PJ idea ended up being our metaphorical office cat! Plus, an equally rare chance to wear my cat vampire shirt to the office.
Keep your trophy, you Cashier’s Office Wizard of Oz cast or you Residence Life box of crayons or you Women in Black alien-slaying librarians, you elaborately-decked-out Jack Sparrow Assistant Dean of Students or you Starbucks Frappuccino Associate VP of Financial Services, or whoever it is that the students vote as winners. You put in the work, and you deserve it. You did us all proud.
But we in Decision Support were competing in a different kind of contest altogether, the kind where you put in less effort and work getting ready than you do on an average workday, the kind where you get to feel easy like Sunday morning smack dab in the middle of a weekday, the kind where a small, fox-like dog wearing a shirt might run into your office at any given moment.
We know we were the true winners of the day.
After work, I felt compelled to put on jeans to go run errands. I gotta say, those felt like the most Difficult Pants ever after my blissful time lounging in easy pants.
I hereby propose that we, as a nation, make Easy Pants Friday a weekly, nationally accepted practice. I may suggest to the workplace morale committee that if we institute this new dress code, plus create a cat library, a puppy petting parlor, and a nap room, the WU might just be the world’s best workplace.