The season of isolation is upon us. The holidays are in the rearview mirror but winter stretches ahead. Chance encounters with neighbors and fair weather friends become rare. You still hear them, though – a shovel scraping a sidewalk, a snow blower plowing a parking space, tires whining to escape a frozen rut.

OK, if you’re not depressed yet, think of the many Forest Parkers who work out of their homes. It might sound like easy duty but I think we’re especially prone to isolation. I don’t miss leaving the house on freezing mornings to hunt for parking in downtown Oak Park. But I do miss seeing people.

The last time I moved my office home; I had my dad to share the basement with and a secretary who reported daily. It’s difficult to stay motivated, when you’re self-employed, and working alone. Homebound workers need to develop coping skills, so they don’t end up lounging in their ratty bathrobe throughout the afternoon.

We intersperse office days, with fieldwork days. We walk the dog. We head to the library just to get out. We don’t watch daytime TV. We maintain a lively correspondence with on-line friends.

I shop at local stores just to get my fill of sports talk. Every morning, I get a kick out of cleaning the kitchen and taking out the garbage. I look forward to the weekly visit from my administrative assistant.

Eating out for lunch is also a means of escape. Until the economy crashed, I used to eat out everyday, because it seemed important to my dad. Now, like many home workers, lunch consists of microwaved leftovers day after day.

So far, it’s been OK. Mondays, for example, are manic. But Tuesdays have been a problem. Ira Gershwin wrote the musical question, “Maybe Tuesday will be my good news day?” Tuesday is never my good news day. It often brings no mail and there are no urgent deadlines to meet.

So, I’ve explored the idea with some fellow home office folks of gathering for lunch once a month. They’re receptive. From my own selfish perspective, I think we should dine out the first Tuesday of each month. We could rotate eating establishments, as long as they’re in Forest Park.

I’m not very adept at forming on-line groups but, if future lunch partners e-mail me at jrice1038@aol.com, we can put together a posse. I don’t care where we eat, so suggestions for lunch spots would be greatly appreciated. We can have the inaugural lunch on Feb. 1, which happens to be a Tuesday.

A communal lunch would not only provide interaction, it might lead to some valuable networking. Afterwards, home office workers can echo the lyrics of Van Morrison, when he asked the musical question, “Whatever happened to Tuesday and so slow?”

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.