This blog post isn’t for you, dear reader: it’s for me.
I was thinking today that at some point in the future, I’m going to look back and ask myself, “Self, what was life like during the first wave of COVID19?” I figured I’d take some time and whip out a few notes to myself so I can remember. I usually schedule my blog posts in advance, but not this one – just doing a quick brain dump on Saturday, June 13th, and publishing it immediately.
We’re about 90 days into the quarantines. There’s a detailed timeline of the virus here, but for context, public awareness of the virus picked up in early March, and California issued a statewide shelter-in-place order on March 19th. It’s been 86 days since then, although Erika & I have only been in quarantine since March 23rd when we returned from Iceland.
San Diego is starting to open back up. Some (but not all) restaurants have been open for take-out service for at least a month. Restaurants are now allowed to open for sit-down service, and service businesses like hair salons are starting to reopen. Before the virus, Erika and I usually ate out at least 6-7 times a week (breakfasts, lunches, dinners), but even with the reopenings, we’re not in the least bit interested in giving it a shot. We’re pretty paranoid, especially given the unsafe activity we’re seeing out and around.
A lot of people aren’t using masks or gloves. Most businesses have signs that say you have to have a mask in order to come in, and most employees are wearing masks and gloves. Customers still try to get in without ’em, or yell from doorways about what they want. Folks are out walking their dogs while not wearing masks, and sometimes just holding their masks in their hands. “Joggers” are out “exercising,” but I use quotes there because a lot of ’em are clearly using exercise as an excuse as to why they’re not wearing masks – they’re wearing athletic clothes, but just walking around in groups and talking.
Protesters are, though. It warms my heart to see the Black Lives Matter protesters here in San Diego are staying as far apart as practical as they walk through the streets, and they’re wearing protective gear. The shots of the smartly-distanced crowd in Dave Chappelle’s 8:46 special tell a pretty good story, and of course Dave does as well.
Health & cleaning goods are often out of stock. Local grocery stores and drug stores usually have paper goods like toilet paper and paper towels, but the brand selection is pretty limited. You’re not going to find your regular brand. Cleaning products like Lysol and Clorox wipes haven’t been in stock for months. Amazon, forget it – things are never in stock.
Telecommuting is really widespread for the first time. Before the virus, when I’d do remote engagements with clients, they almost never had webcams, and they were almost always in groups in conference rooms. Now, all of my clients are working from home, all alone, and everybody’s using their webcams for personal connections. In tech, our work has been doable remotely for a really long time, but companies were hesitant to allow it. Now, they seem to be embracing it for the short term at least – most of my clients don’t have any idea when they’ll be back in their offices, if ever.
The virus is making unrelated health issues trickier. One of my uncles passed away this month. The relatives weren’t allowed to go see him out of fears that we’d pass the virus to him (or to each other). My grandmother is in an assisted living home, and we’re not allowed to go visit her either out of fears of spreading the virus. One of the security guards in our building has developed insomnia, but he’s afraid to go to the VA. My own doctors are doing online checkups.
I don’t know when I’m gonna travel for work again. I still have a couple of things on the calendar for 2020, but I just can’t imagine them actually happening. For example, as of right now, SQLBits is still scheduled to take place in London on 29 Sept, but the UK now requires visitors to self-quarantine for 14 days, and there’s just no way speakers and attendees can afford to come to London 2 weeks early for a conference. I’ve got a client visit in Bulgaria scheduled too, and that country has implemented the same 14-day rule.
Right now, I’m aiming to go a year with no work travel whatsoever. That’s pretty stunning given that I used to travel 1-2 weeks per month! My last work trip was to Puerto Rico in early February, and assuming that the SQLBits & Bulgaria travel restrictions are still on, I won’t book any other work travel engagements until at least February 2021. I’m already booked through most of 2020, excepting a few 2-3 day windows, and I wouldn’t travel for those anyway.
We’re holding back on scheduling vacations, too. Neither Erika nor I are climbing the walls – we’ve been telecommuting for so long that it’s like business as usual, and we had the luxury of just coming back from that long Iceland vacation. We’re thinking about what vacations we wanna take in early 2021, and we might do a road trip or two up the Pacific Coast Highway for a long weekend, but that’s about it.
I think we’re so hesitant because we’re really cautious about the next wave. Erika and I are both convinced that there’s going to be another big round of infections, and with my asthma, we’re just not interested in taking any risks. We’d rather continue sitting it out at home for a while. I hope we’re wrong, but….