Monitoring my monitor

Most of the people at my work aren't at my work any more. We're working remotely during the Great Pandemic of 2020, so this story takes place "at work," but work is my living room.

My work is mindless data entry and doublecheck all day, and I barely thinking about it, because I know what I'm doing, and it's boring. 

Actually, don't tell the boss, but I watch old episodes of The Avengers and Doctor Who on my laptop, while doing my work on the company's laptop. That's how little brain power the job requires.

One afternoon "at work," at about a quarter past one, I noticed an ever-so-slight delay on the screen as I was moving my mouse. When I whooshed the mouse, the cursor followed, but a fraction of a second behind. It was like a visual echo on the screen. It took a couple of minutes for me to recognize the symptoms.

When my computer has technical issues, and I've opened a ticket with the I.T. department, sometimes they've shared my screen, remotely. It lets them follow along, to diagnose the problem. And while my screen is being shared with I.T., the mouse response lags, exactly as it was lagging that afternoon.

Hmmm. The I.T. Department is always sending emails telling us to watch out for phishing attempts or other security breaches, so I was suddenly suspicious that someone had hacked into my company computer.

I start writing an email to I.T. about it, but wait a minute — if someone's watching my screen they'll read the email as I type it. So I stopped Doctor Who, and used my own laptop to send an email to the I.T. Security desk.

They respond within minutes, and told me to wait while they scanned through the logs on my computer to see what had happened at 1:15 or so. I pushed 'play' on Doctor Who again, and I.T. poked around for half an hour.

Finally the technician sent an instant message: "This happened at about 1:15?"


"And you say you weren't sharing your screen with anyone?"

"Pretty sure I was sharing my screen with someone, but not by choice."

Then he typds, "Who's Don Chapman?" And suddenly, I understood everything.

"Don Chapman is my boss."

After a few moments I typed, "Is it OK for my boss to tap into my computer without telling me?"

"Uhhhhhhh," he types. "I.T. has that ability, but we're not supposed to do it without telling you."

"And my boss can do that too?"

"Probably," he typed, "but it's unusual. I haven't seen this situation before, and beyond that, no comment."

I've had this job for almost ten years, and my boss has been my boss for about a year, and we've never clicked. He seemed distant even when he was right down the hall, and now he's ten miles away, but I didn't know I fucking hated his guts until that moment.

"So what happens now?" I typed.

"Well, it's a security incident, and I'm on the security team, so I'll file a report," he typed back to me. "Beyond that, probably nothing happens," and then I.T. was off-line.

I said nothing to my boss, but two days later he sent an mail, acknowledging that he'd been "checking" on me but not apologizing. I spent ten minutes wondering whether or how to reply, and decided not to.

It's been a couple of weeks and I'm still thinking about it, which is why I'm writing about it. Writing about things sometimes helps me figure stuff out.

I can understand a boss wanting to check up on the staff when they're working at home, cuz remote work is a whole new universe of slack-off opportunities, and I do my share of slacking.

But he can see my productivity without literally spying on me — whether I'm at the office or at home, there are eleven-teen different reports tracking everyone's output. My numbers are still the best on my team, and better at home than when I was working in the office. So why would he even suspect?

And what did he suspect?

Was he hoping to see porn on my work screen? Or maybe Reddit? Does my boss, like most bosses, have nothing to do with his time? Or — and I know this is quite a stretch, but — is my boss just an ass?

Republished 4/28/2024   


  1. Do you have a personal computer to do your personal stuff on? Is this work computer given to you by the company for work projects? I just want to make sure I understand. I would hate your boss even more if he was somehow tapping in your personal computer. Tapping into your work computer is nasty, especially when as you point out that it's all provable that your work is up to snuff, but I'd almost expect this type of snooping from a boss you always had your suspicions about as to being a huge dick. Just goes to show how much free time he has on his hands.

    Nothing surprises me when it comes to the shiftiness of management types. I'm more surprised when you get a manager who's a decent human being. It happens from time to time, but I've found they always move on. Decent human beings have trouble working for dicks, eventually.

    1. It's a company-owned computer, issued to me at the start of the COVID mess as my work was shifted from the office to my home.

      My previous boss at the same company was a decent human being. He still might be, for all I know ...

  2. I think it would be great if you could get another at-home job, instead of having to deal with public transit, and the time wasted as a result. Not to mention the discomfort, including any urgent need to relieve yourself.

    1. Heck yes, but remote work is harder to find than in-person, and I can't even find the most menial in-person work. Despite being so very menial myself.


🚨🚨 Click here if you have problems posting a comment. 🚨🚨