Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Day fifty of the quarantine: an experience

Prague Daily Monitor |
5 May 2020

First day at the office! When the alarm went off this morning I knew I had to get moving. Unlike the last seven weeks when I could hit snooze until one of my kids came over and hit me, I jumped up and prepared for the day. It was the first time in seven weeks that I would go to my office.

My family must have felt my anxiety, or we simply slept longer than I anticipated as the lock-down meandered on, but I was all alone, brewing, cooking, eating and preparing myself. It was a dream come true as the peace of the morning allowed me to try and remember things like my office key, car key, paperwork, all my work from the past seven weeks, computer, mobile phone and naturally lunch. They woke up at 7:45, in time to see me off.

I chose to take my car as mass transit is still under suspicion in my books. I love the trams, but I am still a little scared. I drove over and found the traffic lighter than last week’s meeting trip. It was bliss knowing that I would have the whole day to catch up on all the focus projects I needed to sit down and really think through. After parking in our empty office garage, I decided to take the stairs rather than risk meeting someone in the elevator. I even used my sleeve to open the door of the stairwell. It is good that we are on the third floor for I risked having a heart attack in the stairwell had the climb been higher. I came through and found myself using sleeves for doors, buttons or even the coffee machine. I looked around to see if anyone noticed my bizarre behavior but I was not alone. Doors were left open and tissues were used to grab cups by many others. It was a sign of the “new normal.”

The masks I had bought from our neighbor over the weekend was a good investment. My black mask fit in with the other black and whites. All the colleagues had one but I noticed quickly how slowly the masks started hanging half off everyone’s faces. Even I had a hard time keeping it on as everytime I went to take a sip of coffee I had to be careful I did not pour the liquid all over myself. It will either take time, or completely go away. The mask thing is certainly not comfortable, and will get worse as summer hits.

Everyone was in great spirits and for the first time in years it looked like everyone was genuinely happy to have returned to work. For work morale this situation may have been a humdinger. The socializing was very positive and everyone was smiling. I must say that the great mood was an added bonus to the actual relief provided in being able to go and focus on work things for an entire day.

I brought my own lunch but some colleagues ordered out. I heard the length of delivery was longer than usual. I would imagine that the delivery services have seen a spike in business. I didn’t hear about anyone going out and picking food up. I sensed that although in general people are relived the spread of the virus is subdued, there is still a mistrust in the general outdoors or public areas in the city. I myself was not interested in wandering around aimlessly.

Upon returning home from work my wife asked me why I was so happy. I told her that slowly things are returning to normal and it was great to experience it. My kids asked where I had been, and when I answered that I was at work all day they led me to our bedroom and told me that they had checked the bedroom earlier and I had not been there. It was very cute. I reminded them that dad used to go to an office to work and things are changing back, they were quick to grasp the concept.

I hope this is not just a short-term tease. I beg everyone to keep safe, keep the hygiene standards, and help buy us the time we need to get rid of this thing once and for all!

Paul Lysek – The idea of writing a daily update came to me by seeing, hearing and trying to understand all the things that are happening around us at this time. This story is a combination of all those sources, including friends, relatives, and experiences with attempts to bring out the satire, emotion and changing environment of the situation. It is entirely fictional, with the exception of my sarcasm.