Confessions of the quarantined: My 90 Day Fiancé

A friend who works for Uncle Sam in a Maryland suburb is one of the new or expanded group of teleworkers. She teleworked infrequently in past but is now doing it full time — maybe for weeks or months.

Who knows, maybe this is the future right now?

Even in this short span of time some patterns are emerging. And it is happening all over. Today in my normally busy office there are only three of us. The new normal is still a little strange. It took me 12 minutes to get to work today. No problem parking, either. And it’s not just here, it’s nationwide, worldwide even.

Places like the IRS have put as many people as possible in home offices as part of the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The Social Security Administration which had been phasing down — some say out — its teleworking functions is now with the program. Many workers who figured they would never be allowed to work from home have now been ordered to do it. Times change, fast in some cases — like now.

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And although the new normal has only been in place a couple of weeks, or days for some workers in some states and agencies, it may be with us for a while. So how has it changed you and your work pattern? Are things better or worse, or just different, or different but better or worse and different?

My friend the teleworker said that while doing the job from home is different she thinks she is actually more productive. While she misses the human give and take with flesh-and-blood coworkers, she said things are going well and the taxpayers are getting their money’s worth.

The flexible part let her take her lunch break early last week. She decided to make a quick stop at a nearby mini-mall, mainly to get two boxes of wine — for medicinal purposes. When she got there, for the first time, there was a line. It is a county-run store with a lot of rules including limiting the number of customers (to 10, I think she said) and spacing outside. Everybody was complying, she said. The sidewalk had been marked at roughly 6-foot intervals. A clerk was outside to maintain order.

Several would-be customers were wearing masks, including my friend. About 10 customers closer to the door she spotted a man who, despite his greenish mask (definitely not the Lone Ranger) looked familiar. She noticed he was looking at her too, though her mask was white or gray.

Guess what? She is pretty sure the masked man was none other than her supervisor. Makes sense, he lives in the same general area. And he was teleworking, too.

Good news: The masks not only help prevent the spread of the virus. They also can ease certain situations. Like she can’t be sure he saw her just as she isn’t 100% sure she caught him taking an early lunch break.

Most of our staff here at Federal News Network are working from home. So are most of the people I know. Some are going a little stir-crazy. They’ve complained about binge-watching junk on TV. Stuff they wouldn’t even know existed has now become part of their lives. So I was delighted the other night to see that “Citizen Kane” was coming up in a few minutes on TCM. Many experts rank it as the best movie ever. It is almost never on TV so a lot of younger people have never seen it. I felt it my duty, as a sort of group cultural leader, to give them a heads up. Several thanked me. One younger woman responded “Rosebud” so I knew she knew. But I felt good about it, and good about myself.

If I enriched their lives in any way, so be it. I am content. And will continue to be on the ways to diplomatically lift them out of their cultural despair.

I started to watch “Citizen Kane.” I really meant to, really, but I also discovered that a special episode of “90 Day Fiancé” was coming up on TLC. Eager to learn more about, and identify with, the masses, I watched. The show is about Americans who find and fall for people overseas: Nigeria, Ukraine, Russia, somewhere in South America, who may be their perfect match. And a ticket to the U.S. on a 90-day visa. The show was either 90 minutes or 900 minutes. I sort of lost track. And I was a little punchy when it finally went off. But I feel more in touch with “real” people, basic Americans.

And I got a lot of great dating tips plus some examples of what not to do. Calling each other “Baby Love,” either via phone, Skype or in person, is one example.

Of course unlike some people I could never get hooked or make it a regular thing, especially when stuff like Masterpiece Theater and, rarely, “Citizen Kane,” are out there.

Although there are many great books I want to read, or reread, I have to move with the times, too. So I may spend a little time keeping current but I may catch it this week. I’d like to find out if the woman from Ukraine, who has thrice stood up her American friend when he flew to Kiev, shows up this time. Her father died once, her brother another, and I forget what happened that kept them from meeting last week. Once that mystery is solved I’m back to the classics. I’ll probably start with Charles Dickens’ “Bleak House,” which sounds like a fun read!

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

April 2 is National Ferret Day and in 1999, a group of ferrets were used to lay TV, lighting and sound cables along the tunnels under the stage in Greenwich Park in Greenwich, England. It was for the Party in the Park concert for the Millennium. Organizers found it impossible to use rods to push the cables through the tiny tunnels underground, so they outfitted the animals with tiny nylon harnesses rigged with cables, and encouraged them down the tunnel entrance, sometimes by putting a bit of meat at the other end.

Source: BBC