COVID-19 Staff Stories

Randy Matheson

I miss my commute.

I never, ever thought I’d say ,‘I miss my commute’. But that’s exactly what I found myself saying as Week 4 of working from home was winding down. The actual act of doing my work from home is not a massive challenge. Here or in the office, I sit in front of a laptop researching new technologies and working out how that could benefit one of our business solutions. My wife works for a domain registration company and has worked from home for years. Only meeting her co-workers once a year at a get-together in an awesome international destination. That was always hard to imagine as I saw my co-workers in person, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 48 weeks every year (not that I’m counting).

When the leadership and managers were called together for an emergency Zoom meeting on Sunday night, March 15, I felt a mixed sense of excitement and panic at what was going to happen the next day. We had been experiencing such a great feeling of momentum in 2020, with surging interest in Methodify and moving ahead with an ambitious development roadmap. Would all the hard work done to prepare business continuity pay off? Would we all be confined to our homes? Would grocery stores be open? Would the LCBO be open? OMG… did we have enough toilet paper? All the important questions flashed through my mind.

When the first Monday morning meeting to be held on Zoom started, Adam and the rest of the leadership team assured everyone they would be meeting daily and monitoring all the important metrics of the business. Adam has thankfully followed up on that promise, and while the entire world seems to be in constant turmoil around us, this has been reassuring. When the meeting ended everyone turned on their camera, and we all saw those faces of our work family and in some cases their dogs, cats and babies.

Who knows how the next few weeks and months will unfold? Not everyone is as fortunate as we are at Delvinia. Millions of Canadians are out of work, or have very uncertain employment future. We are fortunate to work in digital, we had a plan in place for business continuity that is being executed. While I know folks are in the background doing the hard work to make that happen, on the surface the rest of us can still continue with our tasks – companies need to do research, now more than ever. Plans need to be made for the next evolution of Methodify, pitch decks need to be created, new technologies need to researched and explored.

When I emerge from the basement office for lunch (or more likely potato chips), I look out the front window at the sunny street, and you’d never know that thousands of people around the world have died that very day. I hear birds, so it sounds normal. It looks normal. I see people walking their dogs, I see the mailman delivering bills and junk mail. Then I notice, the mailman is wearing latex gloves, the woman walking the dog is wearing a face mask. I snap back into reality and realize that things are far from normal. It will never be normal again. We are living through an historical event that we though could only unfold in an apocalyptic disaster movie. Thankfully we’re not fighting zombies, just hyper-aware of an invisible enemy that can affect ourselves, our friends, our families in unpredictable ways.

In January when Covid-19 was emerging in China, and the first case in the US was confirmed in Seattle, we felt something was happening, but it’s still far away and will sort itself out. As February began we started ordering extra groceries and yes, we bought extra toilet paper, Lysol wipes and hand soap before it was cool.

It’s now mid-week through Week 5, even the dog has accepted the new normal, and is bored that I’m around. I never see him unless I have food. Merlene and I haven’t killed each other yet. She orders supplies online, I run reconnaissance missions to the grocery store and LCBO. Every cough gets your full attention. Do I have it? Is this what a dry cough feels like? What’s my temperature? Oh, it’s normal, I guess I get to live another day.

Most everything we need gets delivered now, left on the doorstep by a masked delivery person in an unmarked van. Our garage looks like a shipping depot with new packages and groceries quarantined for 48 hours, except for the delivery of a few boxes of wine, which were brought directly into the house.

There’s a new routine, a new rhythm to the day. I get up at 6, feed the screaming cats (unless they’ve already woken Merlene), walk the still sleepy dog. Grab some breakfast and make the 20 second commute to the basement, turn on the computer, turn on CBC Newsworld, check the email, work on pitch decks, click on Zoom link, leave Zoom meeting (repeat several times over the day). Watch the daily press conferences, from BBC, Trudeau, Ford, Cuomo, some random premiere or governor. Check the stats (new positives, more anonymous deaths), break to play with the dog in the backyard, back to work, more Zoom calls, end work around 6. Head to garage for treadmill time, figure out supper with Merlene (do we make something, do we order in, do I put on a hazmat suit and go to a drive thru?). Watch TV, go to bed and repeat the next day…. and wash your hands, never stop washing your hands.

And then there’s the trips out for essentials, or maybe they are just excuses to get out of the neighbourhood. A 5-minute trip to the store for spaghetti sauce can now take an hour of standing in line to get it, then standing in another long line to get out. I’ve come to really appreciate the important work the people working in grocery stores, LCBO, Walmart and other places do that we previously took for granted.

At this point I can’t imagine wearing “outside clothes” and getting on a GO Train with a thousand other people – would we all be required to wear masks? Would it be 1 person to a set of seats? How do you social distance when you are elbow-to-elbow for 40 minutes each way?

Life will never return to the “old normal”. No one knows what the future will hold, is what people used to say. That’s never been truer.  Appreciate what you have, appreciate the work that frontline health workers are risking their lives to do, appreciate all the people doing the everyday things (picking up your garbage, delivering your mail, keeping the lights on, keeping the streets safe) that you just assume operate on their own.

We worry about our families on the east coast, we worry about our friends in New York and other areas of the US. We worry about our jobs, we worry about the economy, we worry that people aren’t following guidelines. We worry that we’re worrying too much, or not enough.

Now that I think about it, I don’t miss my commute at all. Just the communities of friends, family and colleagues that live at either end of it.

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