The shared home office: Where productivity goes to die

When your husband is working from home since March and you’re sharing an office, the topics of conversation have digressed well beyond, “where’s the stapler?”.

“Do you know what I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid?” I ask, while typing at my desk.
“Give me $100?” Brian replies.
“Raft down Duck Creek.” Duck Creek, located in eastern Iowa, is 19 miles long and empties into the Mississippi river. And for the record, I only want to raft down two or three miles of it. Maybe less.

“Me too!” he exclaims with surprising enthusiasm. Usually I’m the one with the crazy ideas and he’s the voice of reason. Like the time I suggested we take a window out to get a couch in or my countless DIY projects inspired by YouTube tutorials. But this crazy idea? He was on board.
“How do you envision us doing this, canoe, kayak, what?” I inquire.
“I’ve always thought an inner tube would be the easiest but since neither one of us, I assume, wants to make bodily contact with the water, that’s not ideal.”
Imagining the bodily regions that would make direct prolonged contact with creek water on an inner tube I answer, “Yup!”

(FYI: Our misgivings about the waters of Duck Creek are right on. According to my research on the search engine DuckDuckGo, which has taken on a completely new meaning in this context, Duck Creek is teeming with E. coli.)

Keeping with the inflatable concept since we would have to carry our vessel a fair amount, my Amazon search for “inflatable kayak” yields intriguing results. The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak for $90.47 and 4.5 average stars looks like a solid option. Odd, however, is the availability of other inflatable kayaks selling for $850+. Would I be up to my eyeballs in E. coli soup cursing myself for trusting our unmentionable bodily regions, let alone lives, to a floatie? Would those be my last thoughts on Earth? They certainly wouldn’t be paddling down Duck Creek was a stupid idea. Right?

I show the kayak to Brian. “Expensive,” he says.
More scrolling reveals the Intex Explorer 200 inflatable boat for $19.99 with oars. The up-a-creek-without-a-paddle model costs $16.78.
“What are the dimensions?”
“It measures 73”x37”x16”“ I feel the need to add, “bough to stern.” Does a boat this small even have a bough and a stern? It looks like something out of the 1978 Barbie camping collection.

What do you know? Aldi’s is selling the Explorer with paddles for $14.99! Sound decision making not included.

“I’m six-two. We’d have to sit like we’re sledding,” he demonstrates this only we’re sitting in our office chairs. All I can see of my husband is from his knees down.
“There’s a weight limit of 210 pounds,” I say.
“That could be a problem,” Brian notes.
Now before I purchase anything online, the reviews must be considered. The disturbingly affordable Intex Explorer 200 has a 4-star average with over 5,000 reviews.

Five star reviews of note:
“How to Escape the Wife 101.
…This is truly the ultimate wife escaper. Don’t do what I did the first time and let her join. I haven’t seen my wife in ages.” My question is: what did the wife discover?
“Fun was had by all. This raft works fantastically for riding out of the back of an airplane at 13,500 ft.” Photo of the fun is included. I appreciate how this review makes our “fun” seem markedly less insane.

One star reviews of note:
“Deflated after three hours of use.
Kids are gutted.” I’m hoping by gutted the reviewer means disappointed.
“Junk. …Can’t imagine if I would have thought I could use this in a river, creek or natural body of water.” I’m imagining it.
“Disappointed. The oars are a thin plastic that easily bend if you are an excitable rower.” If careening towards the Mississippi’s boat-eating roller dams, I could see myself becoming an excitable rower.

“Oars cost extra.” I add.
Brian scoffs with a wave of his hand, “We don’t need oars.”
“We don’t?” I ask. Even Barbie’s boat came with oars.
“No. We’ll just push our way through.”
“With our hands? I thought we didn’t want to touch the water.” Brian’s boyish excitement is clouding his adult judgment. The man I know would rather starve to death than partake in an outdoor potluck.
“That may be unavoidable,” Brian admits. “We’ll need to go when the creek is high, like after a big storm. It’s funny, when I was a kid I’d tell my parents about my plan and they’d say I could get killed,” he muses.
“Well, at least we’ll be wearing life jackets,” I say feeling relieved.
“Nah! We won’t need ‘em.” Brian pooh-pooh’s my absurd statement.
“Why not?!” This home office conversation is getting downright dangerous.
“Because we were born in the 1970s! We are the no-helmet generation!” Brian exclaims like he’s leading a revolution. “It’s embarrassing enough we’re doing this, we’re certainly not going to be wearing dopey life jackets!” He goes on, although now with trepidation considering the idea of other humans witnessing our adventure, “The bike path does run all along the creek…not to mention by major streets.” Has the voice of reason in the age of social media arrived? Please say it has.
“Are you saying we could become a viral meme?” I ask. Memorexed, spread-eagle on a blow-up pool toy floating down an E. coli infested creek is not how I want to spend my 15 minutes of fame.

The more I think about it, maybe the time and age to do this creek excursion has passed. Maybe I don’t want to anymore. Maybe this home office conversation should remain as it is, just talk.
“How about we think about it?” I suggest.
“Yeah, that’s a probably good idea,” Brian says as deflated as an Intex Explorer 200. At least he’s not gutted.
“Yup,” I agree. Time to get back to work.
“So who do you think would win in a fight? A great white shark or a rhino?”

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