Returning to the office this week was like stepping into a time capsule.
Dust had settled over the spot where my desktop computer was hurriedly unplugged and transported to my home office two months ago. Weathered Post-its of COVID-19-related closings and jotted notes of store names where a supply of toilet paper had been reported littered my desk, and the calendar was still pinned to March.
It’s dumbfounding how much the way we operate has changed in such a relatively short period of time. Like other businesses in the infancy of reopening, we have made adjustments in order to adhere to the state’s requirements and to keep customers and ourselves safe.
For instance, before we can even come into the office we must perform self-assessments, checking off whether we exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms and recording our temperatures. We have also spaced the cubicles apart, are social distancing, regularly using hand sanitizer and donning face masks.
Since our noses and mouths are covered one perk I hadn’t expected is simply being able to have eye contact with folks again without barriers like a Plexiglass shield or computer screen in between.
Eyes have their own language. They can smile, cringe, love and cry. They can convey feelings for which there are no words, and a split-second glance can speak more truth than a five-hour sermon from the pulpit. There’s even an old German proverb that says “it is better to trust the eyes than the ears.”
Seeing people in-person again did confirm one thing — there is nothing wrong with my vision. I began to worry about my sight last week when roughly half of my Facebook friends transformed into avatars virtually overnight. It turns out there’s an app for that and most of my friends have too much time on their hands.
I am glad to be back in the office and on a semiregular schedule again. In fact, it almost makes up for the morning wrestle session I struggle through in order to button, zip and belt my pants.
Much like the schools districts’ nontraditional instruction (NTI) days were designed for learning during short breaks, for me at least, working from home was not something I could endure for a long period of time.
After about six weeks, the separation between work and home began to meld together like a gooey marshmallow and a melted Hershey’s square on a campfire s’mores.
The two-second transition from my home office to the living room just wasn’t adequate time for a breather between jobs. At least commuting to work affords me more than a moment to exchange my managing editor’s hat for my wife and mom cap, and most days I can listen to an entire song before getting in the door.
I guess you could say that working from home has helped me appreciate some of the things that I hadn’t noticed or took for granted before. It turns out eyes truly are mirrors to the soul and I don’t mind waiting for a red light or two.
Chanda Veno is managing editor of The State Journal. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.