Remembering Work Life Pre-Covid
Editor’s Note- this guest blog comes from Charles Hudson and is truly haunting. I never really realized how good we have it working from home and I never want to go back.
Getting Ready for the Day
7:00am the alarm goes off. Your eyes open slowly. Time to get up.
It’s a frigidly cold Tuesday morning at the beginning of February. You didn’t sleep particularly well last night. You were stressed about the day ahead, and because of that, you’ve risen a little later than originally planned. You went to bed stressed, and now, you’ve started your day with stress because you’re behind.
You kick into high gear. Shower, brush your teeth, shave, all of the morning things to get ready for work. You spend a little extra time in front of the mirror on your hair or makeup because you know you have to see real life people today, not just your co-workers. You go to get dressed and you can’t find your belt or your blazer, or skirt, or dress shirt, or tie, so you search frantically and annoyed for 5 minutes until you realize you left it at work last week or yesterday so you wouldn’t have to worry about it that morning (nice going, dummy).
You spend another minute trying to figure out which socks you want to wear. You’re tired, so the decision making part of your brain hasn’t kicked in yet, so you stare blankly into your sock drawer until you finally snap out of that gaze and toss one of the pairs you’ve had in your hands for the last minute back into the drawer. Quick check of the weather forecast before leaving, see that it might rain later, but you’re running late and you can’t find the umbrella, so you fly out the door. Now you have to make the decision of what’s fastest to get to work; metro, citybike, walk, drive, or uber. So many options. So little time.
the Work Day
Normally, you would’ve just taken your time to get out to your 10am meeting with that client in Alexandria, but there’s an in office meeting for the whole AM team about a product update in Motel 6 at 9am that you HAVE to be there for, so you need to go into work first. You arrive, and on the way into the building, you see someone at the elevator you work with that you sort of know and they notice you out of the corner of their eye as the doors are opening.
They step in, and poke their head back out as to signal you all the way from the front door that they’re holding the door for you. How nice! Now you can do that awkward walk jog thing to look like you’re trying to get there faster but really it just hurts your knees because it’s the morning and it’s cold and your body hasn’t really woken up for the day yet. In the elevator, you do the ‘how bout this cold today huh’ conversation with that person in product you played kickball with like 6 months ago and sort of know but don’t really but you’re both nice people so you force the conversation and the few sentences you have to share with each other that are utterly meaningless.
You sit through that 9am meeting, thinking the whole time about whether it will end on time or if you’ll have to duck out early and what will people think as you stand up to leave and can you still take the metro out there or is this now definitely an uber situation and will your CSM be ready and on time to the meeting? Who knows, you haven’t heard from them since the Friday before confirming they’d be there. All of these things rattling around in your brain as you listen to someone tell you something about something else that you have literally 0 headspace to process at the current time. You’ll ask someone about it later.
You make it to the meeting, and it all goes off without a hitch. They’re happy with their services, and will renew. However, the meeting started 5 minutes late, and ran 20 minutes long. You uber back to the office and get there at about 11:50. You grab a sandwich from Pret that you hate and scarf it down while in the elevator upstairs and the walk to your desk. You sit down and check your email for the first time since 8:30am and see 6 more things that you need to respond to today that you weren’t expecting, but you can’t respond to them now because you have to turn it right around after a quick cup of coffee and head to another meeting near the hill at 1:00pm with a client you know isn’t going to renew and has less interest in taking the meeting than you had scheduling it (come on, we all know this happens).
That meeting goes as expected (not well), and you’re finally back at the office seated at your desk to begin your full day of work around 2:30pm. You do your best to fit 8 hours of work into about 2.5 but you’re exhausted and some things will just have to be done later tonight or tomorrow.
After the Work Day
You step out of the office around 5:30. It’s raining, but there’s nothing you can do about that now because you left the umbrella at home earlier that morning (‘damn, knew I should’ve brought that’ you mutter to yourself). Great, another uber to take in DC rain rush hour traffic. On your way home, you remember that you have another in person tomorrow, but all your shirts are at the dry cleaners (you knew you should’ve picked them up yesterday because you KNEW you weren’t going to want to do it today but put it off anyway because you were already on the couch yesterday and really didn’t want to go back outside in the cold to pick up the shirts), so you have to make the stop on the way home and get your shirts. (“Hey sir, I just updated my destination sorry about that”).
As you’re picking up the shirts, you think ‘oh it would be great to have X for dinner’, so you head over to the nearest grocery store, walk around and get some other things that you don’t really need but want, then wait more time in line to pay, and before you know it, you’re walking out of the store around 6:45pm.
Finally, after all that, you’re home. You really wanted to go to the gym when you got back, but life just sort of got in the way today, you’ll go tomorrow (which is what you told yourself yesterday, but this day really took a toll on you, and you deserve some more rest).
You cook dinner, and relax on the couch, and turn on something funny like parks and rec or the office because you need a laugh after the long day you’ve had.
In that moment, and in that moment alone, finally, peace.
BUT WAIT, after about a half hour of watching tv and relaxing, you remember all that work that you weren’t able to do earlier, and have to either do tonight, or tomorrow. You give it the old college try, but only sort of finish 4 of the 6 emails you had to respond to, so you leave them in your draft folder to check when you get back into the office early again tomorrow.
You go to bed, stressed, but more tired than stressed now, so you shut your eyes, and fall asleep around 11.
7:00am the alarm goes off again. Bring on the day.