The way people are talking here, it sure sounds like the pandemic is over, or at least has turned into something less, well, pandemicky. How much of this is based on facts, data and our understanding of epidemiology? And how much is more a case of wishful thinking blended with people being tired of the last two years? Whichever it is, things have started to change, and they will change a lot more over the next couple of weeks.
By which I mean less the whole mask-wearing thing. No, for me the main change will be this: work will expect me to get my ass back to the office.
To be fair, we’re not going back to what it was like before the pandemic. My employer is introducing something they call “non-office” (no, they’re not native speakers of English), by which they mean that each team decides how many days people have to physically be at the office and how much time they’re allowed to work from elsewhere, whether that is home or elsewhere (hence “non-office” – it’s linguistically inelegant, but it’s not entirely nonsensical). And that’s a lot more than we had before this whole virus rigmarole began.
But that’s the thing: I’m not comparing to what things were like before February 2021. I’m comparing to what much of the last two years has been like. We’re not going from working exclusively from the office to being allowed to work from elsewhere half the time. For people like me, who (for various reasons) really took to working from home, it’s not all sunshine and office banter. I’ll get used to the new normal, certainly, but right now I actually feel sad to be leaving the current situation behind. Not the mask, not the vaccination certificates, but having so much time at home with my wife, where we’d not only see each other in the morning, when we’re still tired, and in the evening, when we’re tired again from work, but during the day as well.
Most of all, I will miss the daily lunch breaks – and this also means watching a daily episode of this or that. Watching another half hour of Get Back or Calls or a short film from that night of short films they showed on TV a while ago. At the office I’d rarely have lunch, so lunch break basically meant going out, catching some fresh air and grabbing a coffee. Not bad either, but not something I’ve ever looked forward to the way I look forward to lunch and an episode with my wife.
And I know how whiny I must sound: Boohoo, instead of having four or five such working days with a lunch/TV break, we’re only getting two or three of these during the working week. It’s enough to break anyone’s heart, isn’t it? But there’s one thing the two years of COVID-19 have very much confirmed: how much I am a creature of habit. During a time when there’s so much uncertainty, when you don’t know what’s coming in a month or two, having that routine was part of what got me through the pandemic. Obviously I hope that the virus has spent its ammo and that come autumn we won’t be back where we’ve been over the last half year or so. And, if we’re lucky and Omicron has been the last big thing COVID-19 throws at us, we may no longer need that routine as a coping mechanism – but that doesn’t mean that I won’t miss it. And not only because we’re still only just about six hours into Get Back.
P.S.: Will the Corona Diaries be back? Only time will tell – but whether I will miss working exclusively from home or not, I think I can do without another pandemic of this magnitude in my lifetime. So, kids, stay away from bats!
P.P.S.: Why oh why are there yellow and red disease cubes all over Europe in that picture from Dicebreaker? What hellish scenario happened in that game?!