Alone And Together.

So my wife and I had an appointment, one that actually required us to leave the house. Well, one of us had an appointment and the other was coming along to help. And I realized it was the first time we’d left the house together in months. It was a weekday but the appointment was first thing in the morning and I’d be going in to work late, or rather going to work when we got back home, which feels kind of weird to me. Anyway we slept a little later than usual and got up and rushed around and were about two blocks from the house when my wife yelled, “We left our masks!” So we turned around and went back and got them and now we just keep a pair of masks in the car all the time. For some weird reason I forgot my mask but did remember the hand sanitizer which we don’t keep in the car and probably should since it turns out it won’t explode, but that’s another story.

Our ride together reminded me of the weekday morning commutes we used to make together, and I miss those—not so much the traffic, but the spending a little time together in the mornings, just like I miss the afternoon commute by bus because it was a chance to have some time to myself to think about things. For a lot of us who are lucky enough to work from home there’s still an outstanding question of whether we’ll go back to our offices eventually. Some companies have told their employees they can just keep working from home no matter what the future holds. When I started working from home I didn’t think I’d miss the commute but there are advantages to it. It took out a major chunk of my day, anywhere from two to three hours at a time, but that transitional time was a way to adjust my mind, to prepare for work, or prepare to relax at home.

It’s possible that once we start returning to work, and some of my coworkers are already doing that, although with limits. Only a few people are allowed in the office at any one time, and they’re keeping their distance from each other. There’s a communal break room and only one person goes in at a time. Anyone who goes in turns the light off when they leave as a signal that it’s empty.

For me I know it’s really not a matter of if I return to the office but when. Things going forward will always be different. I may not go into the office every day of the week but I will go in some days, and I look forward to making the old commute.

And, yeah, the other day wasn’t the first time I’ve forgotten to take a mask with me when I left the house. A few other times, going by myself on a trip to the grocery store or to pick up a prescription, I’ve been a few blocks away from the house when I realized I didn’t have any masks in the car with me and I turned around and went back. I’d only be mildly annoyed with myself, because it really just gave me a little more time to be alone.

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12 Comments

  1. BarbaraM

    We started to take a cab from our home to the grocery store when the driver slammed on his brakes and yelled at my husband “Where’s your mask”? I asked the cab driver to take us back (we were still in our parking lot) and I’d run up to get his mask, but he replied – “Get another cab”. I was a little stunned because we don’t have mandatory compliance here (we certainly should) and it’s only here and there where masks are required. I simply didn’t notice that my husband didn’t have his mask on – so now I have extras that I lug around, ‘just in case’.

    Reply
    1. M.L. James

      BarbaraM, What a complete a**h*** that cab driver was! Ugh. Sorry you had to go through that! Again, ugh! Mona
      M.L. James recently posted…Barking TimeMy Profile

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      1. BarbaraM

        I don’t know if his cab company had any mask rules, but you’d think he would have noticed Ken upon entering the cab instead of 20 feet away. My husband has dementia and usually goes everywhere with a mask on, but I don’t notice because we’re at home most of the time (maskless). I was sent an e-mail request for a driver review, but I couldn’t bring myself to give him a negative rating because I don’t want to be around maskless people myself, and technically – his cab, his rules. But you’re right, he could have made less of a big deal about it, and when I did call for another cab, I explained what happened, and they sent another cab right away.

        Reply
    2. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Having extras just in case is a good idea. I wonder about that cab driver, though. He just lost a fare.

      Reply
  2. M.L. James

    Chris,
    It’s those little things that we do that we don’t realize how much they mean until we find one day that we don’t do them anymore, that really make a difference. However, having said that, I don’t miss the commute. I’ve worked at home and away from home and I’ll take at home any day of the week! Mona

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Mona,
      Working from home definitely has its advantages and I can honestly say I prefer it, but if things ever get back to normal I think I might go in one or two days a week just for the fun of the commute.

      Reply
  3. The Huntress915

    It’s amazing what one gets use to, like wearing masks when we didn’t have to, then having to wear them all the time. Thankfully, I work in a place that has allowed very few of us back into the office. I am now 100% back at work, and those that have underlying conditions can work from home until further notice. It also helps to work for the VP in charge of the clinical side of the medical school. We have an abundance of disposable masks at hand, so I have them all over the place. In my car, purse, work bag, in the kitchen, bedroom, even right by the door in case one of use forgets to grab one when we leave the house.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m kind of surprised how quickly I’ve slipped into the habit of always taking a mask and hand sanitizer with me when I leave the house. And I’m lucky that I also work for a university that’s adjacent to a hospital so people are very conscious of how careful they need to be.
      Actually now that I think about it I’m not that surprised by how I’ve gotten into the habit of wearing a mask. Masks are fun to wear.

      Reply
  4. Allison

    I miss my commutes. I miss my office. I keep hand sanitizer and extra surgical masks in the car for a stop-gap, because I have forgotten my cute ones in the house. Although, I started hanging a clean mask on the key rack next to my car keys… it helps.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Keeping a clean mask with your keys is a good idea. I think the reason I forgot mine the other day is because I’m not keeping my masks with my other stuff, and, unlike my keys, the masks need to be washed regularly. Probably my keys do too.

      Reply
  5. Ann Koplow

    Being together with you here, Chris, helps me feel less alone. Yesterday, my supervisor asked if I wanted to return to work September – December and, even though the time frame felt shocking, I replied “not particularly.” I particularly love this particular post.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I particularly love this comment, and that you were given the option of returning if you wanted to. Some of us are very lucky that we can choose to keep working from home.

      Reply

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