The last day that I was in one of the offices in person was about a year ago now.
I hadn’t been in the office more than a couple of times so far that year – I’d been on vacation, and then I was sick. I went in a couple of times, and then the pandemic really started ramping up, and I started isolating.
It wasn’t official that we needed to yet — the stay at home order would come weeks later — but the people I casually socialize with most are my parents, who live about 3 minutes away. Isolating meant protecting them. Being in an office, where I am randomly exposed to hundreds of people but have no meetings, no fellow team members, and no internal clients seemed like it was not just massively inconvenient for very little upside… but actually foolhardy.
My manager was fine with me not going in.
But the company announced an in-office rotation for that week last year. I was the member of my team selected in “A” position, so I was on the schedule to be in that Monday.
Normally my manager would not make me go. But there was a lot of scrutiny on it, he said. Which was to say that his manager (and above) wanted butts in seats.
I went in. Of course. But I was pissed off about it, because at that point I’d already been successfully isolated for almost two weeks, and I could theoretically have visited my parents safely, or had them over, or something — and then they sent me into the office.
I didn’t know that those weeks were just the top of a very large iceberg.
My boss let me leave the office early that day. Which was good — I needed to stop for gas one last time for what would be — well, the rest of the year actually.
By the time I got home that day, the rotation was already canceled and everyone was working at home for the foreseeable future.
A few weeks later, my state made the stay-at-home order official.
It’s been ups and downs since then. I suspect that’s true for all of us. The sheer exhaustion of pandemic plus political strife. Lightening of restrictions, tightening of restrictions. Offices closed, reopened, reclosed, Jobs lost or pay cuts. Even joyful days, rendered strange by social distancing protocols or bittersweet by the absence of loved ones. Friends or family members lost to the disease.
It’s possible, if we hold on just a little longer, if we can try to do right by one another despite our exhaustion— we might see our way clear.
One year later, I hope that’s the end of the tunnel we see up ahead.
Hang in there, gang. We’ll get there. Just a little longer, doing the right things and keeping each other safe.
We can do it!
In other news…
Happy birthday Mr C!🎂