We keep hearing about how much life has changed for everyone in the Covid-19 pandemic. We don’t doubt this is true for many, many people and we sympathize with their wrenching struggles to adapt. Their lives have become surreal. But despite the virus, despite (most likely) even having had the virus, my day-to-day life has barely changed. That makes me out of step with the world but that’s just par for the course.
It’s because we’ve worked predominantly from home for over15 years now. Working from home has always been a bit surreal because my life is so different from “normal” life. No morning commute, heck not even having to get up at a certain time each morning. No having to be someplace else for 8+ hours a day and no having to spend most of waking life with people other than family. All that “normal” stuff has not been our life.
Working from home means life, and especially time, moves differently for you. You still have deadlines, but not the Monday-to-Friday or 9-to-5 schedule. You have much fewer interactions with people and what interactions you have are mostly e-mail, online chat, or phone. You don’t waste hours each week commuting. You probably end up working more hours per week, but the flexibility is gold. For years, we’ve been able to do my shopping in nearly empty stores while everyone else is stuck at work. But that’s a part of how those who work from home move in circles different from others, separate from others. You have access to most of the same things culture has to offer, but in different ways at different times. It’s surreal.
That we “work from home” has long been greeted by others with vague bewilderment and an occasional touch of wistful envy. Some think “working from home” is a euphemism for “can’t get a real job” and some wonder if we’ve fallen for one of the many “work from home” scams. Others go “gosh, that’s nice” as if we’re living on a tropical island far away from “normal life” like they never could.
Well, now many of them are now working from home. Most of the “industrialized” world is in lockdown quarantine. As Samuel L. Jackson says, everyone should Stay The F At Home. We understand what an adjustment that is for those work-outside-the-home people, made all the more challenging because it was not of their choosing or planning. They are thrust into a surreal life of moving differently from their well-worn patterns within a larger surreality of the whole world now moving differently. It’s all surreal now. For everyone.
We’re not sure if our life in the pandemic is now more or less surreal. Life for us hasn’t changed much — we are fortunate that all of our clients are still in business so I do the same work from the same place while the world around me has dramatically changed. Work-outside-the-home people complain about not leaving their home. Well, that has been our life for years. Granted, in the past that was partially our own choice, being so wrapped up in work that one or both of us would not venture out for a week or more at a time. Samuel L. Jackson would be pleased with us. Perhaps we should feel more camaraderie with our fellow humans now that we are in more similar situations, but we still feel out of step with the world. Heck, we can’t even be on sync with the Covid-19 illness. We both fell ill before the virus was officially detected in the Czech Republic and by the time we recovered weeks later the country was in lockdown. We should have gone out more when we had the chance.