So this week I returned to work at the office. Without realising it, I had somehow spent six months working away in my little unergonomic, uninsulated shoe box. It was surreal to be back out in the city. Even though we are not in lockdown here in Brisbane, we have been very cautious about where we go and for how long. So it had been a long time since I had been out with so many people.
I catch the ferry to my workplace. It’s a really great way to start the day. Usually the ferry is so full that we are jostled and squished, but it seems like most people haven’t gone back to the public transport route. So there was room for most people to social distance, and I sat out on the deck enjoying the fresh air (and getting a great wind-blown hairstyle!)
At work at the moment we have staggered work days, so in our 200sqm odd space, we only have three or four staff. So we are very very socially distance from each other. There were dispensers of hand sanitiser every few metres, and signposts on every door, facility and access control. It was obvious we were in very different times…
But… When I heading out to the city at lunchtime it was a different world. People were jostling and shopping and stopping in doorways and smoking. Like nothing had changed. In the hundreds in the crowds, I saw only one person wearing a mask. It was kind of eerie… There were signs in the shops about capacity and which way people should walk and where they should stand, but it didn’t really seem to be affecting anyone’s behaviour. I did notice though how many small food places and small stores were closed. There were just such big contrasts everywhere. Between the ‘everything is normal’ pub and the ‘forced out of business’ cafe…
Our office is spread across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. As always I stayed connected to my colleagues during the day across the office via video chat. It seemed indulgent and selfish to be celebrating my return to the office while those in Melbourne are in such strict lockdown. While I babbled about my enjoyable ferry rides, my colleagues derided their one hour break from their house and their curfew. So many different experiences across such a heartbreakingly small geographical area. The situation currently happening to Victorians could really happen to any of us.
Which is all to say, I feel like we are living in a very strange dichotomy right now. Of ‘in this together’, but incredibly distinct experiences. Of quarantine and isolation, but the need for socialisation. Of freedom and escape, balanced with control and restriction. We are all going through so many different situations. And all we can hope is that we all manage the best we can, stay kind, stay safe, and look forward to that day when this passes and our life returns to our own understanding.
Stay safe everyone!