Working From Home in Seattle

I’m midway through my third week of working from home due to COVID-19 here in Seattle. The University just announced that Spring Quarter will be all remote classes. I’m starting to find a new normal but that has been hard. As someone who suffers from anxiety, this is a perfect storm. Fortunately, the weather has turned and we have beautiful sunny Spring days so that helps. Going for walk with Ena each afternoon gives us a chance to chat with neighbors (6 feet apart) and to see the Sun, the cherry blossoms, and to hear the birdsong.

It is terrible to see the city so shutdown and empty. Last night, we went down to Piatti’s at University Village to pick up dinner. The 373 (my commuter bus) passed us going North as we drove down. It was empty as far as I could tell. Normally, I would be on that bus and it would be standing room only. Piatti’s was dark with only the front end manager and Chef Dylan there. Dylan was in the kitchen by himself. Ours was the only order. It really hit me hard to see this lively fun place and the people we know riding this out alone in an empty restaurant. I was very sad. I hope that the restaurants and workers we know make it out of this and are able to start back up in the future.

I worry a lot about the economic impacts of the COVID-19 on many different levels. Many hourly workers and shift workers have had their jobs evaporate overnight. Washington and Seattle are working on plans to help them bridge the gap until the jobs come back. What about Fall quarter at UW? How many students will return and how many won’t be able to because their families no longer have the money to help them with college? Finally, the stock market has taken a nose dive and so has most people’s retirement funds. I’m a ways away from retirement but it still worries me.

We have house cleaners that we have put on hold. They are a young family. They just had a baby about a year ago. We have paid them for the next three visits (6 weeks basically) but told them they don’t have to come. It is these people, at the bottom of the ladder, who are really going to feel the pain of the social distancing and closures of so many things around Seattle and Washington.

This could go on for months. I think about that and what it means. I think about what are things that I always wanted to have time for that I can do now to make this a positive experience. Teleworking has given me back something like 90 minutes a day. Where can I invest those minutes? I’m also trying to think about the other side of this event. What will it be like in 2 years? Because there will be a moment when this is over and life returns to a new normal. What do I want that normal to be?

For now, I’m focused on finding some new normal rhythm. People at work are starting to have open Zoom Rooms for lunch and other events so you can at least drop in and chat with them and see their faces. We have our afternoon walks to get out of the house. What else to add to this new normal to help us traverse this pandemic and to help us come out where we want to be?