Bluff The Listener Our panelists read stories about three attempts to make working from home more fun.

Bluff The Listener

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BILL KURTIS: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME, the NPR news quiz. I'm Bill Kurtis. We are playing this week with Tom Bodett, Alison Leiby and Maz Jobrani. And here again is your host, showering you with love and showering himself once a week, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Bill. Right now, it is time, of course, for the WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on the air.

Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.


SAGAL: Hi. Who's this?

HALL: This is Craig Hall.

SAGAL: Hey, Craig Hall. Where are you calling from?

HALL: Macon, Ga.

SAGAL: Macon - what you doing down there in Macon?

HALL: Sheltering in place like everybody else.

SAGAL: (Laughter) I know. Are you able to work from home?

HALL: No. I work - I'm able to go into my office. I'm considered essential.

SAGAL: And what do you do?

HALL: I'm an OB-GYN.


HALL: So I have to go to my office to see my patients.

SAGAL: Right. Are you - and you're delivering babies?

HALL: Everybody who was pregnant before they were quarantined still is.


SAGAL: Yeah, I bet. Well, welcome to the show, Craig. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Bill, what's Craig's topic?

KURTIS: Time to put on my business pajamas.

SAGAL: Thank you, working from home, for showing us all there's something worse than going to work. This week, we heard a story of someone trying to make the experience better. Our panelists are going to tell you about it. Pick the one who's telling the truth, and you'll win our prize - the WAIT WAITer of your choice on your voicemail. Are you ready to play?

HALL: Ready.

SAGAL: All right. First up, let's hear from Tom Bodett.

TOM BODETT: Just about every aspect of working from home has been exhaustively researched and written about by writers and thought leaders working from home. But there is one inescapable issue with the in-home workplace no one has been able to solve. Going to work at home does not feel like going to work. Say hello to Gauntlet, the new virtual reality commuter simulator from Murder Hornet.

Simply get out of bed as you normally do these days - at 10 - pour yourself a cup of coffee and slip into the Gauntlet VR helmet. At once, you're transported into the morning hellscape you know so well and love. You glance at your wrist. You're late. You rush. You brush. You throw on virtual suits and shoes so real, you'll swear they pinch your feet.

Air kisses out the door - the sound of a big-wheel bike being crushed beneath the tires as you back down the drive. Faster now, peeling an orange over the steering wheel as you nudge into traffic on a bypass that bypasses nothing. Honked horns, flipped fingers, weather reports on the morning zoo, always rain. Stolen parking spots and surly security personnel greet you at your old, familiar workplace. You walk in, find your cubby, and you're ready. Take off your helmet and head to the sofa to start your day pumped and P'd off like it used to be.

MAZ JOBRANI: (Laughter).

SAGAL: A VR simulation of the misery of going to work just to make you feel like it did in the old days. Your next story of a home office enhanced comes from Alison Leiby.

ALISON LEIBY: But what about birthdays, asked Sharon Thompson (ph) on a non-BCCed (ph) company-wide email after her office shifted to a work-from-home situation. Four hundred and fifty-seven remove-me-from-this-thread emails later, she realized she missed the joyless, sugar-fueled small talk competitions that are the office party. I mean, this was her Cheers - the only place where everyone knew her name.

So she developed Home Office Party - a service that delivers everything you need to morosely celebrate the inevitable marching on of time for a co-worker you have never actually spoken to. A delivery person arrives at your door when you're in the middle of actually getting some work done and provides you with an over-refrigerated piece of sheet cake on a paper plate from 2011 with a weak plastic fork that bends like a yoga teacher the second you try and use it. If you can't finish the cake, just put it in a half-closed container in your fridge for a stale treat the next day, explains Thompson.

Also included in the kit is an overhead lighting system to set the mood, an audio recording of someone saying, I really shouldn't, but it's a party and a timer that goes off after 12 minutes to signal the party is now over. Thompson explained that the company is also in beta testing for a work-from-home bagel Friday package, but they haven't quite figured out how to get all of your remote coworkers to touch your bagel before you eat it.

SAGAL: The remote office party, so you can have the joyless experience of eating sheet cake for a birthday in your own home office. Your last story of WFH WOW comes from Maz Jobrani.

JOBRANI: First, Zoom was, like, "The Love Boat" - (singing) exciting and new. But three months into lockdown, and people are tired of it. How long can you stare at Tim (ph) in accounting as he picks his nose in a box on your computer screen? How many times have you got to remind Linda (ph) in HR, you muted yourself, you muted yourself, you muted yourself? There's got to be a better way to hold meetings.

Enter video games. That's right - people have found a way to hold their work meetings in actual video games. Said author and artist Viviane Schwartz, Zoom sucks. We started having editorial meetings in "Red Dead Redemption" instead. It's nice to sit at the campfire and discuss projects with the wolves howling out in the night.

There have been problems. First, in order to get to the level where you can have meetings, you have to complete an hour of in-game tasks like lassoing a horse. That was not part of MBA school. Other problems - anyone else in the world playing the game can wander into your meetings and shoot you. And the button you press to sit down is the same button you use to strangle someone. Sorry, Tim.

Schwartz said the response of meeting on video games has been overwhelming as people discovered that they can, quote, "hang out with their friends and go for walks together," end quote. Again, we'd like to just point out that's a virtual walk, so no actual physical activity.

Still, desperate times call for desperate measures. And the fact that you can have your meetings in a fictional world surrounded by fictional animals and go on fictional walks does seem like a much better option than boring, old Zoom, where the most exciting thing that could happen is if your meeting gets Zoom-bombed, and a stranger's genitalia upstages Tim in accounting picking his nose.

LEIBY: (Laughter).

SAGAL: All right, Craig. Here are your choices. One of these things was created to make working from home just a little bit more bearable. Was it, from Tom Bodett, a VR rig that engages you with the virtual experience of the misery of commuting; from Alison Leiby, the Home Office Party kit, so you can have those sad birthday parties in your own house with yourself; or, from Maz Jobrani, a way to hold your meetings not in Zoom or Google Hangouts but in the video game "Red Dead Redemption," where you can all be cowboys? Which of these is a real story about an improvement in working from home?

HALL: I'm going to go with the last one - the video game meeting.

SAGAL: Meeting in "Red Dead Redemption" - that's the one you're choosing. All right. Well, we spoke to somebody familiar with the real story.


NATE CROWLEY: Once the meeting's over in "Red Dead Redemption 2," you can break up and go off and do crimes.


SAGAL: That was Nate Crowley from, a gaming website, talking about the "Red Dead Redemption" meetings, which apparently have been very successful for the company that started them. Congratulations, Craig.


SAGAL: You got it right. You earned a point for Maz Jobrani just for being truthful. You've won our prize - the voice of your choice on your voicemail. Congratulations.

CROWLEY: Thanks a lot.

SAGAL: Thank you so much. Thanks for playing today.

HALL: Thanks.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.


DOLLY PARTON: (Singing) Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living. Barely getting by. It's all taking and no giving. They just use your mind, and they never...

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