O-O-O (Out of Office)

The Friday before St. Patrick’s Day in the year 2020 we were instructed to pack up whatever we needed to be able to work from home for the next couple of weeks.  Maybe a little longer?  No one quite knows.  A communicable illness is sweeping the globe and self-quarantine has become the recommended defense.  Who knows who might carry the virus? No course of medicine or vaccine beckons, only recovery—or lack thereof—fearful prospects for the immune-compromised and elderly.  Grocery stores overflow with masked people staring at empty shelves. Within a week, American expectations of plenty have been replaced with fear of famine.  We who rely on the all-mighty supply chain look at our cupboards and ask if there is enough to keep us going until all this blows over and what if it doesn’t?  The word was, “just a couple of weeks” then “until Spring Break” then “we’ll see.”  Warmer weather may help.  As one medical advisor claimed, “The virus hates the sun.”                     

Schools have closed.  Churches requested to meet online.  Restaurants have closed. Concerts canceled. No band practice.  A friend’s magnificent wedding planned for three weeks from now has been put on hold.  Travel? Banned.  Another friend and his wife quarantined on a cruise ship for days now wait in additional quarantine at a military base. My daughter in Antarctica says the next supply plane will be canceled to avoid risk of contaminating air systems. Sales executives demand training courses to enable their teams to sell online.  No one is making calls in person.

So yesterday I worked from home, something usually reserved for very rare occasions. I relish the daily drama and little rituals—the walk through the corridors, coffee, meeting together in a conference room to solve the problems du jour. This cultural microcosm called work has propelled me out of the house for twenty years. 

Thankfully, mine is the kind of job that can be taken home—unlike folks who depend on a daily stream of customers in their restaurant, barber shop or store.  And, like many friends, I am not trying to work while caring for children also confined to home.  But yesterday, the first day, one of the things that got me through was knowing I had a reason to get out for a couple of hours: Meals on Wheels.


Next: Ditch the Dictionary, Bring the Banjo

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