To my coworkers who arrived 30 minutes late with a cup of coffee

Tracey Folly

*this is a work of nonfiction based on actual events that I experienced firsthand.

Thank you for inspiring me to become self-employed.

It’s been more than a decade since I worked a real job, and I’ll never go back. There are so many things I don’t miss about having coworkers. The number one thing I don’t miss is having coworkers who show up late to work with a coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

In the time it took them to buy a cup of coffee, they could have shown up to work on time.

It was never about trying to manage my coworkers when that task didn’t fall to me.

I always had a dog in the fight.

Working in the city, there were enough obstacles in the way of getting to work on time without stopping at the coffee shop on the way into work, namely road construction and heavy traffic. Now, I'm not saying people don't deserve a cup of coffee to start their workday. What I'm saying is that my coworkers should have done that on their own time. Not mine.

You see. After an eight, ten, or twelve-hour shift, there was nothing I wanted more than to leave on time, but I had to wait for my relief to arrive first. Whether I was working as a cashier in a retail store or a support worker at a group home, packing up and going home wasn’t possible until someone was there to take my place.

Being stuck at work was not the worst thing ever, but it was always frustrating when my plans were thwarted. Until I realized something: I hated working according to my coworkers' whims and coffee needs, and I had the flexibility to change that.

I spent nearly every waking hour at work for years, and the last thing I wanted to do was stay one minute late because someone else needed a cup of coffee and a cigarette. It took me years to figure out something was wrong with this system, and it didn’t change until I started working from home.

Being self-employed is so much better than rushing to work on time, but I was never the one who was late, unlike my inconsiderate coworkers. When I worked my 9–5 job it was such a struggle to get up, get ready, and basically force myself to go. The whole atmosphere at 9–5 employment was so stiff and uncomfortable.

I’ve always wanted to work for myself.

I love the idea of waking up and getting to work on whatever I wanted. It sounds like pure bliss, and it hasn’t turned out that way, but it’s still way better than working at a corporate job.

Being self-employed is better than any job I ever had. It has given me more freedom, more time, and occasionally, quite a bit of money as well.

I’ve been freelance and self-employed for more than a decade now. When I was working full time, I felt compelled to work late hours and weekends. Now, if I work late, or on weekends or holidays, it’s because I want to. Not because I’m obligated.

I’ve been working online for the past ten years and can say with confidence that going from a traditional job to a location-independent career is one of the best decisions I ever made. Not only has it given me financial freedom, but I also get to do work that I love.

And I never have to wait for one of my perpetually tardy coworkers to come back from the coffee shop before I can go home after a long day.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

Boston, MA
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