I am thinking of writing a novel, New Employment in the Time of Pandemics, inspired by Love in the Time of Cholera.
If it’s gonna be weird, chances are it will happen to me.
I started a new job last Monday while the COVID-19 pandemic escalated. And trust me….the situation is NOT lost on me. While unemployment soars and millions are worrying about the next paycheck, I have a new job. My heart is filled with an abundance of gratitude. But… I wonder how many more people may be in the same boat? To be entirely honest, this boat feels a little strange and lonely.
Starting a new job during a pandemic is a bit strange. All of those new job “butterflies” are amplified by fears of catching a potentially lethal virus. Still, first impressions count and you don’t want to disappoint!
On day one I wore my most favorite new outfit, a beautiful raspberry colored shirt with a sheath overlay. Since social distancing is the new norm, I didn’t shake hands. I did bump a few elbows. I greet everyone with a wave and try to keep a respectful distance.
Normal training encounters might include sitting closely with your trainer for observation and interacting with other humans. Instead, I pull up a chair and distance myself about three feet apart. Seeing the computer screen is difficult, but I don’t want to spook anyone with germs. And as for interaction, all of the students of the university have been instructed to study remotely. The occasional straggler wanders into the office and we have to politely ask that person to go back to the lobby.
I know where I was during spring break, but I don’t know where you may have been.
As the days go by, staff starts to transition to remote work. I write a work from home contingency plan, but I am also only three days into this job, so how much can I actually contribute? I am simultaneously preoccupied with learning this new position and sanitizing my hands. Both take up enormous amounts of head-space, but it feels as though only one has the right to exist.
I make it to Friday. All of my new colleagues have been supportive and friendly. They understand that this is a strange time for everyone, and especially for a new employee just trying to learn the ropes. Although leaving the house is scary right now because of COVID-19, I feel completely comfortable with my new job. I can tell that when things return to normal, I will have a lot of fun interacting with students and being part of this team.
I am now on week two. The few of us still coming into the office are sufficiently scared. I am given a laptop and a blessing to work from home. Although the scenery has changed, I still wash my hands excessively while humming the chorus to Mr. Brightside, which meets the mandatory 22 second mark:
Jealousy, turning saints into the sea
Swimming through sick lullabies
Choking on your alibis
But it’s just the price I pay
Destiny is calling me
Open up my eager eyes
‘Cause I’m Mr. Brightside
New employment, even during a pandemic, definitely has a brightside.