Friday night I went to get Chinese food. A month and a half ago, or slightly more, that would have been completely normal. The place I usually go to when I’m craving Chinese food would have been crowded, and not just because it was Friday. It’s a popular place that was crowded most nights, and one of a few that served dim sum, every Sunday, and where I tried chicken feet for the first time. Also the last time because I’ll try anything but I don’t like everything, and chicken feet just aren’t my thing, but that’s another story.
Friday, March 13th was the last day I went to work at my office. It was the day my boss said, “Take your computer home just in case something happens. It probably won’t but better to be prepared. See you Monday!” And the following morning I got the message that the building was being locked down and that none of us were to come in. It feels like so much has changed since then. We started having video meetings every day. Then it was cut down to three times a week. I’ve developed a routine; oddly enough working from home I feel like I’ve gotten on a more regular schedule–start at seven, lunch at noon, clock out no later than four–than I ever had when I was going in to an office. And I feel like I’ve gotten to know people I work with better than ever. I work in a pretty big library and when we have all-staff meetings in Zoom I’ve been learning the names of people I used to only see in passing.
When I got to the restaurant I was reminded of what hasn’t changed in the last month and a half. The restaurant still isn’t seating people, and they have a whole protocol for picking up food: masks are required, everyone waiting is asked to stay six feet apart, bottles of hand sanitizer are on the front table. I wasn’t asked to sit and have some tea. I didn’t chat with any of the people who work there. I think we all smiled at each other but couldn’t be sure. I swiped my card without handing it over.
On the way back I passed a bus. Instead of displaying the route the bus’s front flashed the messages “WEAR A MASK” and “SAVE LIVES”. Nashville’s buses are still on a modified schedule. I also passed a church. It sign said in person services wouldn’t resume until at least mid-June out of concern for their members.
Some things have changed but so much remains the same. So much that seemed different a month and a half ago has become normal.