Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Social Distancing

After Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Google closed their offices in Seattle, I asked my boss, "Are we the last holdouts?"

This week he finally relented and now we're all working from home. However, in his enthusiasm for the work community vibe, he did -- first thing Monday morning -- suggest that we all join a video meeting throughout the day, just to get some face time. I rolled my eyes as I sat on my couch thinking that would never happen. Maybe he just wanted to get a sense that people were still busy, but -- honestly -- that would just be a distraction.

I like the people I work with, but at the same time I can't understand how they get anything done. I see the chat message notifications constantly scroll by, and they're all about jokes and family life. I see "likes" and emoticons immediately tacked on to every message, and I wonder if we couldn't be ignoring all of it from home, all of the time.

This situation we're dealing with is sad; in fact, it's devastating for a lot of people. What a mess! And yet some of it is an introvert's dream. Working from home. Empty streets. People electing not to get into the same elevator as you. The personal boundary has expanded, and no one is getting in anyone's face. They come close, and then they back away, remembering the new rules. The side eye reigns. Any hint of a scratchy voice, cough, or sniffle sends people running. Touch your face, and relish the reaction of others. Clear your throat, and watch them avoid the door knobs you touched.

As terrible as it seems, I wish some of this would last.

Unfortunately, I also need this to end so that I can buy groceries again. Empty aisles don't suit my culinary needs. My favorite bartenders are out of work, and that really bums me out. Drive-thru coffee isn't as good. Apparently, every restaurant has become a take-out restaurant. Every pharmacist is out of thermometers. Even the homeless are scared. I'm not ready to break out my survival gear and rough it. My sanctuary requires upkeep and toilet paper.

I don't necessarily hope for things to return to "normal", but something close to it would be better. Maybe people will realize it was never necessary to go to the office after all. Just enough people need to go to the office to pay my favorite bartender's salary. That's all I ask. Let's get that done.


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