On Monday 23rd March I arrived at work reading to put in place the social distancing plan for my team. The country was at alert level 2, we were being asked to social distance ourselves, so over the weekend I devised a plan to have all my back office staff working from home by the end of the week and my front facing staff operating between campus & home using a roster.
Then that day a National announcement, Jacinda Ardern our Prime Minister advised we were going to Level 3 effective immediately and within 48 hours we would be level 4 and in a State of Emergency. Which provides new overarching powers for the enforcement of the rules we will need to live by. This shit just go real! My team worked quickly & reacted calmly. They collected monitors, keyboards, office chairs, laptops & desk plants. Packed them up & took them home.
So from Tuesday 24th March almost all of us have been working from home apart from skeleton crew at our front line offices for the last day & the odd staff member coming back in to sort technical & equipment issues before the campus formally closed on Wednesday.
I’ve worked from home on and off for years. Normally the odd day and then in recent months a permanent day per week. So for me the idea wasn’t daunting as I knew my set up worked and things will be fine. Not so all of my team, some of them had never worked from home before, they don’t have an office in their house so need to get creative and find a space and make it work. It’s taken support emotionally & technically but they pulled through and have been champions each and every one of them.
The working week ended up buzzing by, which was surprising, as I remember waking Tuesday morning feeling like I had already worked a whole week.
So when it came to needing to go to the grocery store on the weekend I came to realise how safe I felt in my bubble. Now I had to venture out, take a risk and step outside the bubble into an area I know but one that may contain an invisible enemy.
So I donned a long sleeve shirt, long legged pants and covered in shoes, taking with me gloves & a mask. Kissed my husband goodbye and wished myself luck. Imagine my disappointment when I exited the drive and no audible pop happened!
First stop the pharmacy, what a time to run out of the kids pain meds! The sign on the door advised one customer to enter at a time, so I waited in my vehicle until the gentleman who had entered first had finished. It was my turn, I entered, there were markings on the floor to show where I could stand and tape barriers to show me where I couldn’t venture. The staff were friendly, polite and kind. I paid using paywave, who would have thought that invention would be so handy right now, thanked them and left.
Phew phase 1 complete!
Next stop the supermarket. My first observation was that the cars were parked in every second park like a form of social distancing for vehicles. A security guard at the door kindly greeted me. I waited while trolleys were returned from the carpark, as they had limited the number available to use, said many thanks when I took one while I entered through the electronic doors. Easter is soon so this time the front entrance Easter egg display worked a treat and I stocked up on some special treats for the boys. Then I continued silently around the store filling my trolley as I went. There were others shopping too but we all kept a polite distance and never spoke, actually very little eye contact was even being made. Which is weird for me, I love making eye contract, smiling and saying hi! Yet today I to dropped my head slightly and just went about my business stopping occasionally to let another shopper take their time perusing the choices before I could safely do so myself.
Once shopping was complete the next step was to pay, the checkout area is well marked to ensure waiting customers give enough distance to those being served. The checkout operator steps back as you load your groceries on the conveyor belt. They sterilize their hands then scan the goods piling them at the end. When they have finished they step back again so you can step forward and start to pack the groceries. I muse about the benefit of New Zealand going plastic bag free last year as we are all so used to bringing our own bags with us to shop. I idly chat with the operator, it’s nice to speak with someone from outside my bubble and not online. I feel I’m taking up to much time so I apologise for not packing faster. The operator kindly says I am fine and to take all the time I need, that there is no hurry. This helps. I finish packing then use the pin pad to pay. Say my sincere thanks and exit. Pass the nice security guard and head to my vehicle.
There while loading my groceries I chatted from a distance to another shopper who like me is a first time bubble popper. We wish each other well and to stay safe. Strangers united.
I head home passing the odd walker and cyclist and very occasional motorist. It’s nice to be able to get home so easily on a road which is usually forever busy. I arrive home dispose of my gloves and mask, strip off my outer layers and put them in the wash. Then I unpack and wipe everything with disinfectant, washing my hands intermittently. Then I disinfect my car doors, steering wheel, gear lever and my shoes. Final step is a shower, washing everything with soap including my face.
With phase 2 complete I feel clean, relaxed and back in my safe bubble. I get to interact once again with my adorable family.
It’s all precautions, some may feel over the top, but for me it’s a calm decisive choice to keep me and my family safe. I do not want the responsibility of bringing it into my home. I am forever grateful to all those essential workers who have to move out of their bubbles daily so we can continue to eat, have medicine, electricity, the internet and most importantly health care, my one day stepping outside of my bubble is a glimpse into what their daily lives are like. They are the heroes during this time.
Revising this blog makes me feel like I am living in a movie, that it’s all a dream for some a very bad dream.