Pandemic

When the idea of working from home was mentioned as an option several weeks back, I treated it with a strange type of distain.  I had always kept the different parts of my life very separate.  My friends from different parts of my life did not meet until my Eagle Scout ceremony.  As I have become older in years, I have slowly moved closer and closer to my work location.  I wanted to be connected with the local community.  That was the idea, anyway.  My most recent move has brought me to within one mile from my workplace.  The official headquarters for the entire company is a mind-boggling two miles away.  This is why I came here; this is why I will stay.  There is a job security that is hard to find in other places, which brings us to the current global situation.

We were sent home.  Company Equipment, including a USB headset to take phone calls, has been provided to me to use in my living room.  I’ll take a moment and remind you that I am one person living in a one-bedroom apartment.  This apartment is the perfect size for one person.  I now take the table that I eat on and use it as a desk.  I place the computer system in place and away we go.  After the initial excitement wore off, I was pretty much over it.  My voice echoes off the walls and ceiling, the silence between calls is nerve-racking, and the various sounds of Maintenance in the apartment above me are a lot to deal with.  This was on the good day when all the systems and equipment were working.  I understand it takes of lot of power, programming, software, and hardware to make all this work, but it’s like no one had ever even put a plan of paper.  To be fair, our Leadership team has been doing their best to communicate and troubleshoot with all of us.  I don’t want to give you the wrong impression.  Keeping with the positive spirit, I told friends and co-workers that an extra room to put the work equipment in would make it easier to separate the “work life” from the “home life”.  Granted, I have been very spoiled in my office work life.  We work in a climate-controlled call center.  There is white noise pumped-in to cancel the surrounding co-workers and the network is lightning-fast.

Yes, from most angles, people would be confused why I would be complaining about this.  I don’t have to worry about someone else in the background. I don’t have a dog or cat bothering me.  I don’t have a small child making demands near my headset.  However, based on current rules, I also cannot go out and see my friends.  I only just recently found a group of people that gather on a regular basis to eat dinner and catch-up.  It has been quite the blessing for me, but it is still very new.  My government, my employer, and my religious leaders tell me to reach out to friends and family virtually.  Use the tools that we have created.  I think this is a good example of how social media networks can be used for an overall Good.  Unfortunately, for personal reasons, I have removed myself from most of the standard platforms.

This has given me the opportunity to catch-up with friends via old-fashioned texting and phone calls.  Did you know that your smartphone can call people?  I also took the time to write a three-page letter to an old friend.  What an amazing experience!  I had forgotten the pure joy of slowly writing out thoughts to a friend.  I am sure that fact that we have been friends for over half my life makes it easier to write meaningful words.  My oldest friend called me just today while he was waiting for his food order.  Normally, he would be busy with the three jobs or the five children.  He told me that he is has more open time because of this adjusted lifestyle.

I know that not everyone has the opportunity to slow down or stop work.  I know that communities and businesses are working hard to keep everyone working.  I read an article about delivery drivers and grocery stores working to ensure that the drop in ride-sharing wouldn’t affect income of the drivers.  I have seen companies donate massive amounts of money to support medical research and infuse local businesses with needed supplies.  The federal governments in several countries have provided people with various amounts of financial support.  I am happy that funds were readily available, but it highlights the desperate need for an emergency fund.  As a bank employee, I know that people are always running everything very close.  If you are living on the edge with everything is booming, what happens when it’s not?  People lose their jobs because the business cannot pay the employee.  The employee cannot afford to buy normal products.  The employee that just lost their job now files for Unemployment (also a luxury), and the government provide a minimal amount of money so they don’t starve.  The amazing “free money” that the U.S. Government just approved is another loan.  The people use their credit cards in a panic, the government uses their “credit card” to bail them out, and the children of today will have to pay it back, eventually.  The people and businesses that already had money to weather the storm will make more money and the cycle continues.

I’m sure we will all look back at this in a year or two and wonder why everyone was so worried.  I am confident that the medical experts will find a treatment sooner than later.  We will watch the numbers of affected people go down.  We will survive.  Humans are resilient.  We will learn from our actions during this time and be better prepared for the next event.

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