Anybody there? Tales from lock down land

Unless you’ve been a professional hermit for most of your life, the past few weeks have been weird.

People who were told they could never work from home are now working from home. Restaurants are closed, people are wearing masks into banks which in normal times is not a smart move. Families have been quarantined together, spouses and significant others are getting even better acquainted.

Teleworking, which was starting to erode in the federal government, is now bigger and more successful than ever. People are super busy and bored, often at the same time. Stress levels are high as we watch nonstop news about cases and deaths and the tallies scroll endlessly on trailers under regular TV shows. The rich and famous are broadcasting from their villas, some consoling us, some complaining about being in “jail.”

One of the many things I’ve missed is hearing from readers. People still have questions and concerns. But whether you are going to get the Thursday off before Christmas takes a back seat to wondering if you’ll be around this Christmas. Times have changed.

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So I searched out some long-time readers who, though we’ve never met in the flesh, have become good friends — especially at times like this. I wanted to wish them well but also to find out how they are coping. As usual, even in these trying times, they came through. So nice to hear from them. To know there are people like them in government all over the country. And that they are coping, which is no surprise, but welcome news.

Here are some of the first responses. Thanks friends, hang in there and keep ‘em coming:

“Hi, Mike. Our family is doing well with the stay-at-home order. On Easter we celebrated Easter and my son’s 13th birthday which was on the 13th. It was super fun, homemade carrot cake with Grandma. Played the game Life — I was the banker — and then built the LEGOS set. I am glad it is not the middle of winter. I have been taking the afternoons off to garden on the nice days, it keeps me grounded. I have also been going on 1.6 mile hikes around town with four large hills. That will get your heart rate up. Trying to take each kiddo on alternate days to help them as well.

“Listened to a podcast recently that asked two very good questions: What are you grateful for that you are missing? And what are you grateful for that you have?” — E

“Good afternoon, sir. Teleworking — who’d have thunk it that the majority of civil service employees would be doing it? I used to telework a couple of days a week. It was great, no interruptions, no having to drop what I was doing and get pulled into a silly meeting that could be handled by an email — loved it. Now, not so much really. Time has no reference for me anymore. Without having to go into the office, my days get all mixed in together. Even the weekends are not as joyous as before — no sports to cheer for or go see and no long weekend trips to Atlantic City to plan.

“I’m still working my normal shift of 5:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. — that’s my normal that I didn’t want to let go of. I miss the drive in, I miss the interaction with the security guards at the Mark Center — they’re all fabulous by the way! I miss seeing Helena, my favorite cashier at the Market Café for breakfast and lunch. I miss some of my co-workers. I miss being able to call my counterparts around the world and have a conversation. I don’t like having to do everything by email. I used to think I was an introvert, maybe not? Maybe I’m a selective extrovert?

“Being at home has its advantages. I’m saving gas, I’m not spending money on breakfast and lunch — which by the way, is by the pound at the Market Café. I have a wonderful workmate, she’s 29 lbs, furry and likes to lay at my feet while I’m working. She also enjoys the occasional belly rub. On the down side, I’m here with my husband 24/7. I love the man, I swear I do but he retired seven years ago — he’s 14 years older — and I’m not planning on retiring for another eight years, two months and seven days. He has a routine during the week, and me being home isn’t part of that routine. I think he feels as though he must check on me throughout the day; I’ve tried convincing him this isn’t the case but he’s an ole cowboy and set in his ways — bless his heart!

“All in all, I feel incredibly blessed to still have a job and be able to take care of my family. The rest is just minor inconveniences. We have food, we have a home that is filled with laughter and fun, and we have each other. Yes sir, I’m truly blessed. I’ll work at home for as long as it takes to make sure that the virus gets under control, and I won’t complain about a second of it. You take care, stay safe and strong and hug your family!” — Dixie C.

More to come. Love to hear from you, too. What about me? My biggest problem is I’ve got dishpan hands from all that washing. Life is tough, right?

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

The first documented unmanned balloon ascension in America took place in Bladensburg, Maryland, on June 17, 1784. Innkeeper and lawyer Peter Carnes intended it to be a tethered, manned ascent, but before the launch a gust of wind blew the passenger basket against a fence and damaged it beyond safe use. One week later Carnes conducted another public exhibition of his balloon in Baltimore, with a 13 year-old boy riding inside the basket.

Source: Historical Marker Database