Future Office Life

I don’t have a cubicle to go back to. In the fall, we were asked to go in and clear out our belongings, because most of us would no longer have a personal workspace. Only the people who have to be in every day, or almost every day, will have one. Even when the office reopens, most of us will continue to work from home and only come in from time to time. When we do, we will pick an unoccupied cubicle in a designated area. If anyone else from my group is in that day, they will be in the vicinity.

Whenever we go into the office, each one of us will have to do a deep-clean of the cubicle we’re assigned to before we can get to work. We know the virus lives for many hours. Who wants to sit all day at a desk, using a keyboard and mouse that someone else used all the previous day, without disinfecting them first? And what night-time cleaning crew on earth would have the time to thoroughly clean every item in every cubicle?

If we go back while there are still outbreaks, even if we wear masks at all times, the office will be full of invisible dangers. One infectious person who is not careful about handwashing or who rebelliously removes his mask when he’s alone or in the company of sympathetic people, and one moment of forgetfulness on our part, and we can be very unlucky. In Massachusetts, the anti-maskers are few in number, but they do exist. If we go back to the office while COVID-19 is still raging, we will have to be cautious, which is a polite evasion of the word afraid. We will have to be afraid of each other, and act defensively.

It is awful to be afraid of other people in a place where you should be able to trust them. I’m sorry. I would love to have lunch with you, take our time, and enjoy each other. But I’m afraid of your breath. I’m afraid of your laughter, even if you are hilarious. And you should be afraid of mine.

And, in any case, with our haphazard schedules, when will I even see you now, my friend?

January 17, 2021 COVID-19 Infections and Deaths

WorldUnited StatesMassachusetts
Infections93,217,28722,624,579470,140
Deaths2,014,957376,78213,652
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