Community and normality

My new gig has its own cultures, do’s and don’t’s and normal and weird. As most places do. Last week, the husband of a colleague was crook, so she didn’t come in to the office for most of the week. Because she couldn’t come in, I too, worked from home. I was told there’s a rule – maybe a practice – that one does not work alone in the office. That applies across each team. She was an offsider to my boss, who is a part owner of the business. She has been showing me the ropes. So she was that person who had to be in the office when I came in. That was something I kind of have to get used to.

Certainly, all this work-from-home and return-to-office stuff, are part of the covid normal. All the “pivotting” and looking at what needs to be adapted for the new normal. All that added to the complexities and weird feeling of settling into a new environment.

And so I worked from home for the most part last week. After a whole month of working in the office (mostly), that provided a bit of change. It also meant I worked harder (it felt that way) and so at the end of the week I felt tired and just very flat. Many have said that working from home has seen them working harder or more, and often, I too felt that way. It’s just too easy to keep going at your desk, when there appears to be nothing that is urgently calling out for your attention.

With a big week behind us, Tress and I resumed our Friday dinner date. This time however, we asked Jason and Mel along. We have been doing that for a number of years for for a combination of reasons, we stopped doing that for a while. So when we resumed that on Friday, it was very enjoyable. We didn’t however, linger around and chat away too long (like we used to) as the little fur babies were at home and the anxiety on both pooch and humans was too much to ignore. So after about a couple of hours, we headed home.

The next day, the Padawan (younger of the two pooches) had his puppy school so off I went. The Jedi (older one) had his grooming appointment so Tress and he stayed home. When both of them were done, we worked on the garden. I trimmed shrubs and hedges and replanted some veg seedlings I had started and Tress weeded and tidied up the usual mess that end spring/start of summer brings. That all took a while and by the time we were done, it was well past 1pm. We cleaned up, headed out for lunch at what has become our go-to joint in recent months. “Laksa Village” started out as “Penang Village”. The latter is a chain and part of a larger F&B group owned by Malaysians. The pandemic must have created some licensing/franchising disruption and when they re-opened after minor reno, they re-branded. The food and service remained nie and friendly so we remain happy patrons. After lunch we did our usual grocery shopping. I then prepped some stuff for the cook the next day and then took the little fellas for a really nice walk. The cricket at the oval has also resumed and late in the evening, I walked up to the fence and watched the final few overs, with a cold one in hand.

On Sunday, we returned to St Alf’s. We had been to St Lukes in recent weeks as St Alf’s had been booked out. With the lifting of restrictions, it was an uplifting service back at St Alf’s. To meet and speak again with long missed people was wonderful and fulfilling.

We went to another joint for lunch after that and this time, we headed to this place in Doncaster, that we hadn’t been to for over 18 months. They closed for reno but then covid hit. It used to be our go-to after St Alf’s for most Sundays and to do what we were doing pre-covid, felt like life is returning to normal. Later that arvo, while Tress went out for a quick hunt for her ethereal pursuits, a piece of heavy machinery was delivered at my neighbour’s property. Our long term neighbour had moved out a few months ago and the property had been vacant, awaiting demolition and redevelopment. It looks like work will finally begin.

This morning, after discussing with Tress about whether I should work from home – she came down with a slight migraine and we were thinking about the havoc the demolition work would wreak with the pooches – we decided I would come in. The office was buzzing within the hour of my coming in. Dozens of people are in the office now, in contrast with my first few weeks here, when only a handful would be here. There were days when only 2-3 were here. This too, contributed to the sense of hope that life is returning to “normal”. On my part, whatever social commentators may say about there being a new normal, the sense of community – including the work community – requires people to come together and that, is normality to me. Working from home may be convenient and efficient in many ways but as a working community, there is much to be said about being together in situ. If that means coming into the office, that is not too high a price and not too much to ask.