As the Pandemic Drags On, I Can’t Take Much More of This

For a problem this big, let’s get inspired by concepts like the draft.

Fly View Productions / Getty Images
Fly View Productions / Getty Images

Recently, for the first time in his professional life, Eric Stine became a full-time remote employee because of the coronavirus pandemic. In this column, he’ll share the highs, lows, and learnings of a WFH newbie. You can read all of his diary entries here.

Week Whatever: Hit Me With Your Best Shot

So much time has passed that my song lyrics have moved from the 70s to the 80s. I realize I haven’t written for a while, but I just didn’t have anything new to say. My mom taught me to keep my mouth shut when I don’t have anything useful to contribute. 

Yes, I’ve lost count of the days and weeks as they endlessly bleed into each other.  I’d love to say that life has changed a bit since things started reopening, but it really hasn’t. The horrifying increase in cases across much of the country — largely a function of a broken political system that fetishizes some twisted concept of freedom without regard for community or civic responsibility — has kept those of us in the northeast firmly rooted to many of the behaviors we’ve had since March. Yes, we go running, or to the beach, or play golf and tennis — but mostly at a distance and only with select friends and family.

Work has maintained the same breakneck pace of video call upon video call — I’m seeing the faces of colleagues around the world more frequently than in the Before Times. I’ve learned to balance my calendar by directly calling the people who understand that I have no desire to see their face, or show them mine.

Between the Peloton, running at the beach, and minimal takeout/delivery, I’ve never been this tan or this thin. Or looked this old.

I don’t go anywhere, really… and the veneer of normal is a mirage that’s doing something destructive to my soul. Some days, I get in the car and grab a coffee that I order online from the place that leaves its doors open all day and simply puts my coffee on the counter so I don’t need to be inside for more than eight seconds. Then I drive from one end of town to the other, but I rarely go inside anywhere. I went to the grocery store a few weeks ago because I didn’t have a long enough list for delivery — we only needed a few things, and I knew I could find them in under five minutes — but just being close to people at the self-checkout made me anxious. And everyone was wearing masks.

Though I gotta say, even to my peeps in Connecticut, who wear them pretty much everywhere indoors: Folks, it’s supposed to cover your nose, too.

I would give anything to spend half an hour at Mitchell’s, the local clothing store where I used to shop. I’d like to spend a few minutes perusing the baked goods at Coffee An’Donut Shop, where they put pictures on the wall of celebrities who’ve shopped there. Bradley Cooper just moved to town and I’d love to see if there’s a picture of him. I’d love to stand in line at Stew Leonard’s and get an ice cream cone for my kids. 

I took them to the walk-up window at Carvel and I nearly had apoplexy.

Who are these people who are going to bars? After I pump gas I use half a bottle of Purell.

I Google progress on interventions, like potential treatments and vaccines, several times a week. I’ve been trying as hard as possible to get into one of the Phase 3 clinical trials for one of the vaccines — Moderna, Pfizer/BiOnTech, Oxford University. I’d literally go anywhere on the planet if I could get into one of these trials and be guaranteed the real vaccine. 

Remember Terms of Endearment? The 1983 Best Picture winner with Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson? There’s a scene near the end of the film, where Ol’ Shirl has a breakdown when it’s time for her daughter (the fantastic Debra Winger) to get her pain meds. She has a full-on meltdown in the hallway, “GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT!”

I feel like that every day.

Actually, here’s an idea: For a problem this big, let’s get inspired by concepts like the draft, or the Peace Corps, or Americorps. If so many people are so keen to go to bars and pool parties and political rallies, why not conscript them into these trials so we can expedite the vaccine? There appears to be a significant portion of the American population willing to dispense with all reasonable public health guidance. I say: Great! Let’s draft them, inoculate them, and expedite this sucker. I can’t take much more of this — I want a vaccine that works, ASAP.

Hit me with your best shot. Fire away.

Working From Home in the New Normal is a data-driven storytelling initiative from SAP and Thrive Global, bringing together insights powered by the Qualtrics Remote Work Pulse with actionable Microsteps and stories from Thrive to help you navigate working from home. Visit daily for the latest data and stories to help improve your focus, prioritization, and well-being.

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