Too Soon.

I have a very vivid memory of the first day I rode the bus to school. It was my first day of first grade and the bus hadn’t gotten a block away from my house when a kid ran out into his front yard and stood there. The bus driver stopped. I knew the kid, and I knew he was about a year younger than me, too young to get on the bus. I also remember that he had curly blonde hair, big round eyes, and a wide mouth. He looked like someone had put Harpo Marx in the dryer. The kid’s mother ran out and grabbed him.
“Does he ride this bus?” the driver yelled. His mother shook her head and we went on.
I thought of that kid this week because he was so eager to go to school, or at least eager to ride the bus, and there was a lot of talk in our staff meetings this week about the possibility of people coming back to the office to work. No one was really eager to do that just yet. I know we’re very lucky that we have jobs we can do from home, that so much of what I do can be done, and is being done, online. The past six weeks or so have been pretty productive for most of us. I also know there are a lot of people who aren’t so lucky. I know a lot of them would like to get back to work even if what they do isn’t considered “essential”–although if there’s one benefit to the current crisis it’s that I hope we’ve widened the definition of “essential”. Anyway I think there’s also been some push to “reopen” places without enough thought, which reminded me of a more recent experience. One of my first jobs out of college was working in a call center and one day the building we worked in was shut down because of a bomb threat. I think it was directed at another business in the building. The call center where I worked provided customer service for the trucking industry and some of the truckers got pretty annoyed with us but I don’t think any of them ever got mad enough to plant a bomb, or even call in a threat. Most of the employees were taken to a vacant lot across the street and after about half an hour one of the bosses said, “I can’t believe how much money we’re losing. I want people to start going back.”
He wasn’t volunteering to go back himself and he didn’t care that there were literally armed guards at every door of the building, and he didn’t even think about the cost if the building blew up with people in it. He just saw dwindling dollars.
Getting back to Mini-Harpo he did eventually get to ride the school bus. I know it’s not an exact comparison. There weren’t any major changes that the rest of the world would have to make so that he’d be able to take the bus to school; he just had to wait a year. Still I think about how, when we’re young, a year, or even a month, or a week seems so much longer because so many of our experiences are new.
In the discussions with my coworkers about going back to the office everyone was in complete agreement that if people are going to go in there have to be some serious measures in place to assure everyone’s safety. Some things–like washing our hands, wearing masks, or even gloves, even limiting our movement–we’ll have to take care of as individuals. Other things–like limiting the number of people in the office at any one time, continuing to allow people to work from home when possible, regular cleaning, maybe even on site testing–will need the cooperation of upper management. Some things will require upper management to make sure the building is safe, or at least as safe as it can be. And that should apply to everybody in every job. That is essential.

Facebook Comments


  1. Ann Koplow

    Thank you for yet another essential post, my friend.
    Ann Koplow recently posted…Day 2710: Jaw DroppingMy Profile

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      All your comments are essential, and thank you for sharing them, Ann.

  2. Kristine Laco

    Going back to work, getting on a bus, seeing people IRL all seems too soon right now. But I desperately need a tattoo, so I’m hoping they open soon! (what is that btw??!) Stay safe and stay ink free–for now.
    Kristine Laco recently posted…Pink DoorsMy Profile

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Is it possible to get a tattoo while maintaining a six-foot distance? This is something someone should look into. I’ve been meaning to get inked for some time now.

  3. Moonwatcher51

    Well said in an entertaining way, for us basic learners?
    Moonwatcher51 recently posted…Hello world!My Profile

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Well, I’m a very simple guy myself, but I also try to entertain.

  4. Allison

    Not only am I ready to get on the bus, I want to sit up front so I can get off first.

    But like Junior Harpo, I will wait. And it’ll be the right time when it happens.
    Allison recently posted…Social Cues for Days of the Week*My Profile

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      The waiting, as Tom Petty wisely said, is the hardest part. I can’t figure out why I always go to the back of the bus, though, when I’m also eager to get off when it comes to my stop.


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