Things I Will Miss About the Pandemic

Hazmat

 

I was at the grocery store today and you’d never know we just went through 3-plus months of pandemic-fueled pandemonium.  You’d never know we were just locked down in self-quarantining hell for over two months.

No, things were pretty much back to normal today.

The only thing I noticed different from pre-lockdown times were that about 25% of the people were wearing masks, most stores had someone wiping down their shopping carts and self-checkout registers, and there were still 6-foot (2 meter) markers on the floors to remind you to not invade the personal space of the people in front of you.

So, today, after fighting traffic to and from the stores, and dealing with the crowds at those stores, I began to wax nostalgic for the days when the lockdown was in full swing.

It got me to thinking about things I will miss about the past 3 months.

And here they are in no particular order (for my brain is seldom in any particular order).  You’ll probably very quickly start to notice a common theme to all of these.

Light Traffic

My 45-60 minute commute to work every morning and evening dropped to about 20 minutes.  It was like getting over an hour of my life back every single day!  Plus, it was quite thrilling to get on a freeway that is usually a parking lot during rush hour, and zoom down it at the posted speed (or higher).  Every morning and every evening it felt like I was in my very own “Cannonball Run” movie!

Similarly, if I needed to run to the grocery store to pick something up, I could just zip there without encountering any traffic whatsoever.  And there was never any problem finding a parking spot right up front!  So, a quick trip to the store that used to take 45 minutes, now only took 15 or 20 minutes.

No Crowds

When I got to work, I could often walk from the parking lot, through the entry way, down the long hallways and to my work area, without encountering a single soul except for the security guard and the nurse taking temperatures and handing out face-masks.  And if I decided to take an “ergo break” and go for a walk around the inside of the building, I might not encounter anyone.

It was a similar story at stores or anywhere out in public.  I often felt as if I’d broken into the store late at night to do a little pilfering.  Except that the lights were all on.  And while it’s true that many shelves were empty, they were emptied of random, ridiculous things.  Most “normal” items remained in sufficient quantities for my needs.

No Invasions of My Personal Space

I will be the first to admit that I have a very large personal space.  From what I remember from the psychology class I took a thousand years ago in college, one’s personal space is roughly a yard (or meter if you prefer, and who doesn’t?).

I, on the other hand, like a personal space measured in furlongs or perhaps even leagues.  When I see someone become visible over the horizon, I immediately start to get antsy and agitated.  By the time they are within shouting distance, I am already contemplating shouting at them to not come any closer.

Over the course of my life, I have become quite adept at avoiding people in otherwise crowded places.  I have refined the art of buying things out of order in stores just to avoid people who are standing in the aisles that I need to go down.  I’ve learned how to casually cross the street to avoid passing people walking towards me.  And, in rare occasions when avoidance was impossible, I have faked my own death.

So, the past two months have been as close to heaven-on-earth as I am likely to ever get.  All of the people-avoiding skills I mentioned in the previous paragraph were now being performed by other people!  I did not have to avoid them … they were avoiding me.  And if they still got too close, a theatrical stage-cough or sneeze would send them scurrying on their way.

Elimination of Small-talk

I have never been good at small talk (the social interaction, not the object-oriented programming language).

After I have said “hello”, I have told you all I know.  At that point, my brain, thinking its work is done, rambles off somewhere to take a nap.

Unfortunately, that leaves my mouth unsupervised and it is very likely to begin meandering through the most bizarre, stream-of-consciousness, blather one could possibly imagine.  An innocent remark on the weather, after a mere minute, has somehow become a discourse on how the mating habits of medieval wombats led inexorably to the development of floating point calculations in integer-based microprocessors.

It is at this point that people begin edging away from me.

And that is fine.  It was their saying hello to me that led to my blathering in the first place.

So, in this instance, the lockdown has been a godsend to me.  People don’t even want to be close enough to hear me, let alone engage in small talk (again, not the programming language).

So, really, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Clean Air

It may be coincidental, but my allergies have been non-existent for the past 6 months.  This time of year usually is devastating to me in terms of allergies.  Breathing becomes a luxury I can only dream of.  I often have to take a deep breath before speaking, because I’m liable to pass out from lack of oxygen before the sentence is complete.

So I find myself hanging out in seedy parts of town, trying to score some Zyrtek or Flo-Nase.

But this year …. no problems.   I have been breathing like a normal person, and without having to rely on over-the-counter allergy medicines.  I have even felt quite heady on occasion as my brain gets far more oxygen than it is used to getting.

No Supervisors

This one is self-explanatory.  I have not seen my boss since early February.  We have spoken sporadically via email, and occasionally by phone, but he has largely checked out and is managing things via email from his compound at Martha’s Vineyard.  In fact, nearly all of the executive management team has been largely MIA.  The only thing anyone has heard out of them is the infrequent blast-emails that tell us we’re doing a great job, we are the backbone of the company, work smarter not harder, lift with our legs not our back, blah blah blah.

And it may be my imagination, but the company seems to be chugging along just fine.

Coincidence?  Hmmmm.

$0.99 Gasoline

I like to pull up to the gas pump and pretend it is 1989.  I put on my Ferris Bueller shades, comb my hair back, and sing “Shake Your Love” by Debbie Gibson out loud while I’m pumping gas.

It’s a gas!  And there was no one around to hear me.

Peace and Quiet

I cannot overemphasize how much I have loved the peace and quiet brought about by all of the self-quarantining going on.

I loved waking up on Saturday mornings and not hearing lawn mowers and leaf blowers.  I loved sitting in my back yard and not hearing traffic going by.  I loved not hearing sirens.  I loved not hearing the constant droning of airplanes overhead.

It has been heavenly!  Silence truly is golden.

Reduced Stress Level

Everything I just listed above reduced my stress level out of the red zone where it has been permanently residing for the past several decades, and down to the green zone for the first time since the early 80’s.

For the first time in a long time, I could just come home at the end of a long day at work, put my feet up, and enjoy a cup of coffee and not feel the urge to go anywhere or do anything.  Where was there to go?  What was there to do?

I could just put on some nice music, grab something to read, and let my brain idle in park for several hours.

This is especially important because we are living in what is probably the most stressful time in recent memory.  Uncertainty is our constant companion these days.  We are beset by worry and anxiety and doubt.

So, if you find something, however small, that brings you a little peace and serenity, embrace it wholly and without guilt.

You need it.

16 comments

  1. Though I needed to work through all of the stages, I really miss the more intimate atmosphere of only a handful of us in the office when we had to be physically present. And those are the people I like! But I really miss the empty roads, the peaceful feel of the general quiet. I’m not someone who thrives on being busy, and I don’t like a frantic environment, so this suited me just fine. As someone who already worked from home 75% of the time, I can honestly say I enjoyed it even more when it was 90% of the time.

    In my state, we’re required to wear masks, and you’d think some people were being locked in the pillory by the way they complain about it. Sheesh. We managed to keep the number of cases very low in my county, and yet people don’t connect that with the number of precautions we took to do so.

    As for faking your death, that made me miss my old boss—he used to pretend he was dead in his desk chair when he’d hear me coming down the hallway to his office.

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  2. All of these things are so true for me too. I even noticed my allergies were getting better (at the same time that my shoulder tendonitis got much worse from sitting at a computer all day long)!

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    • Thank you, Anna! I am so very happy if anything I write is able to help ease the daily stresses and anxieties of life in any way. And your words of encouragement are so deeply appreciated by me, and are very inspiring. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I so agree about the traffic! When I was home on quarantine I could go out on a run and cross any street I liked most of the time! But being more gregarious than you, I have experienced stress from not being able to go out for a cup of coffee or a drink. I miss my friends! My allergies may be a little less, but how frustrating when my nose starts to run behind a mask! But one must deal with these things. Great post. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! It just goes to show, that it is possible to find some measure of joy and contentment, even in the darkest of times. In fact, I think it is essential to our well-being to seek out the good, and to nurture the flickers of light, no matter how faint.

      And you are so right about allergies and masks … not a good combination. Also, I highly recommend NOT sneezing while wearing a mask. Not good!

      Have a wonderful day, and thank you for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Although I’m not beset by worry, anxiety, or doubt, I’m all for clean air and lots of space. Which is why we live here. Perhaps these facts may make you consider relocating to Saskatchewan:

    Area of SK in sq miles: 251,700…..Area of Texas: almost 269,000
    Population of SK : 1,182,000 …….Pop. of Texas: 29,000,000
    SK: Lots of space and clean air….Crowded freeways, congested lungs
    I won’t get into comparing temps, except to say our summer heat is much more bearable. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Christine! It’s always a pleasure when you stop by.

      And I would move to Saskatchewan in a heartbeat! Actually, I would love to live anywhere in Canada. If only I wasn’t chained by my current job! I long frequently (constantly) of living somewhere a bit more remote and undeveloped. I could not survive in the wilderness by any stretch of the imagination, but just somewhere less crowded and over-built, and more beautiful and bucolic, would be heaven! I will keep playing the lottery and hoping!

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      • All of these things are so true for me too. I even noticed my allergies were getting better (at the same time that my shoulder tendonitis got much worse from sitting at a computer all day long)!

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  5. With Chez Tidalscribe in lockdown I don’t even know what is going on in the outside world. My little walks to the cliff top reveal three lost ocean liners anchored in our bay – so the oceans are enjoying some peace as well. I think we should have pretend pandemic six days a week to preserve the quiet and the clean air.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Janet! Your surroundings sound wonderfully idyllic! There is, sadly, not much to look at around here in the suburbs of Dallas. One could literally walk for 20 miles in any direction and not ever get out of the suburbs and the accompanying suburban blight and uniformity. I would so love to be able to take a stroll to a bay or through a bit of forest.

      And I quite agree with you that we should mandate 6 days of pandemic per week for the foreseeable future. I think the world would be a better place for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ll definitely miss the empty roads and the lack of other people at work. My boss is well an truly back as of last week and the roads are so much busier. My stress levels have shot up in recent days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi James! Sorry to hear your boss is back. That usually takes all of the fun out of being at work. Add to that traffic-congested commutes and, yep, it is a return to pre-pandemic stress levels. Oh well … nothing good lasts forever.

      Liked by 1 person

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