I had to return to my office for a day this week. I’m still not sure why. My last visit there was on March, 12th. I didn’t know what to expect. I knew there would be other colleagues too, but how many? This is my short recount of visiting a ghost office since the beginning of the pandemic.
From the very first moment I entered the building, downtown Montreal, I knew it would feel different. The streets were mostly empty. The entrance walls were fills with instructions related to COVID-19: masks are mandatory, keep your distance, two persons maximum in the elevator, wash your hands, this door for entry only, etc. You know the drill.
The hall was empty. The security guard was waiting patiently for people to come in. I perceived a smile on his masked face. I went to the elevator. Places, where we need to stand, were marked on the floor. I went on floor 11th. The office entrance is open, but nobody is there. It feels just strange coming back after more than four months. It feels when I come back from a long vacation. Where is everybody? They are working from home.
Computer screens are turned off. Personal items can be found on some desks. I go to a closed office, getting ready for work. What am I doing here? My day will be spent on virtual meetings anyway.
I saw four of my colleagues. They were all happy yet surprised to see me there. We chat for a while then I went to the bathrooms. Again, there were clear instructions on where I could go or not go. I felt like it was a science fiction movie. How long will we have to endure this shit? Is the return to some kind of normality even possible?
On my way back home, I couldn’t count all the closed businesses and empty offices marked for rent. I saw how far-reaching this pandemic is and how hard it is affecting and will be affecting all of us in so different ways for years to come. What a mess.
Returning to my office after four months iota felt weird. It wasn’t a good idea. It made me feel the real consequence of this pandemic. It’s depressing. What is even more depressing is that I have to return there because I forgot something to bring back. Duh.