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How a spider named Arthur became the best work from home colleague

CNA Lifestyle’s Circuit Breaker Diaries series features musings on Singapore life in the time of coronavirus. Here, a lonely writer’s desk becomes a co-working space with an arachnid, who teaches her an important lesson.

Working from home for the past few weeks has got me thinking about Arthur lately. He was one of the best colleagues I’ve ever had. He also had eight legs and once lived in my desk.

Arthur the spider was the perfect WFH officemate: A fairly quiet fellow who preferred to keep mostly to himself and would only make an appearance on the rare occasion.

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I never had to be careful about what I said around him. I never had to watch my back. And I never once worried that he would run off on his little legs and carry tales to everyone. Nor would he gossip about me to his mates. Even if he did, it didn’t faze me one bit. After all, we spoke a different language.

Arthur was the perfect WFH officemate and the best arachnid you could hope for.

Even when I would talk to myself out loud and others would think me crazy, I never feared Arthur’s judgmental eyes. They were too tiny to pierce anyone’s soul – even if he did have eight of them.

Arthur was the best arachnid you could hope for, measuring in at about a centimetre, and not a cm more.

His spidey senses were always on-point, keeping him chiefly hidden from sight – especially during my most stressful days – and swinging by to say “hi” just once in a while.

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“Hello and how have you been, old friend? It’s nice to see you again!” was my common response. Out loud or in my head, I’m not quite sure.

It might be hard to image how a teensy-weensy spider re-emerging from somewhere in my table would somehow lift my spirits as I slogged in front of the computer all day. But for some reason, it did.

Our workplace arrangement was perfect. Co-working spaces don’t get much better than this.

I’d like to think we had a delightful bond, but I knew no one would understand so I kept our affair secret till the end.

And for my part, I tried to be as good a friend and keep Arthur entertained, with piles of papers and books as a playground he could spin his own tales around. It didn’t reach cobwebs-in-the-attic level but there were times you really could see his web glistening in the sunlight streaming through my window.

Yes, it was a lovely little world of make-believe we’d spun for ourselves. And for months, our workplace arrangement was perfect – he’d romp around my room and, for the most part, I would pretend he wasn’t there. Co-working spaces don’t get much better than this.

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It was all fine – until that one fine day when I discovered a flurry of little spiders invading my table.

I discovered, to my horror, that Arthur could actually be a she. Not to be sexist but I just couldn’t foster them all. And have you ever seen what a mass of baby spiders moving around looks like?

It was all fine – until I discovered a flurry of little spiders invading my table.

For the first time, affection turned into fear and fear had turned into repulsion. Arthur was a friend but this triggered my first instance of arachnophobia in all those months.

I don’t know what got into me (actually, I do: The gross factor) but my first impulse was to grab the insect spray.

But as the mist assassin descended, my heart did well up with sadness. And I had taken Arthur’s life and all of those baby spiders.

As I now sit in isolation, I find myself missing my eight-legged friend. And whenever I spot another spider in the house, I do wonder if it’s one of his descendants.

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But my guilt at how our relationship came to an abrupt, aerosol-filled end has stopped me from imagining another Arthur and instead, I simply imagine that he (or she) is now up there somewhere beyond the ceiling looking down at his (or her) former co-working space companion.

Thanks for the WFH memories, Arthur the spider. Thanks for showing me I could find comfort and company in even the smallest of things. 

And I really do hope you’ve forgiven me up there in spider heaven.

Jamie Nonis is a freelance writer who’s been working from home even before it became a thing.

Source: CNA/mm