After careful consideration, I went to the office today to tidy up and bring home necessary items, to prep my laptop for remote working and to speak to my boss. There were all of four of us in the office, out of the usual ten, and everyone who is immuno-compromised or otherwise at-risk is already working from home, so I felt reasonably comfortable going in. I used hand sanitiser every 20 minutes and touched as little as possible in the office that wasn’t at or on my desk.
I parked in the car park at the front of the station. Normally it’s full and we park near the back of the rear car park. When I got on the train to come in, the first thing I noticed was how good it smelled. The seat upholstery had all been deep-cleaned. The carriage was nearly empty when it left my home station, and there were still spare seats when I disembarked at work. This is a train which is normally completely full including aisles and vestibules at least three stops before it arrives at my work.
Someone boarded the train whilst looking ropey and started dry-coughing continuously. I still don’t understand how they managed not to be crushed by the weight of daggers being directed at them.
The campus was a ghost town. I had to go to the tiny bank branch at lunchtime. The person at the counter said I was their fourth customer of the day. And - this is the real kicker - I popped a Pokemon in the gym in the centre of campus. Normally when you do this you get it back within an hour.
It’s still there.
We beavered away at work, trying to keep our spirits up with our remote-working colleagues over Skype chats, and then around 16:30, our administrator started packing up and the rest of us slowly followed. We said very awkward, very British goodbyes from safe distances, as we are planning to trial the entire team remote-working tomorrow and a skeleton crew the following week, since the University was scheduled to close on the 27th March.
Just as we left, we received the notification that it was closing on the 20th March, tomorrow. If we have any remaining issues with remote-working, we’ve got one day to fix them. And that was it: the last time I’ll see my colleagues in the flesh for at least three months, probably six.
I hopped on the train home. I don’t normally get a seat on this one. Today I had an entire table to myself - four seats, only me occupying one.
Finally, something to lift the spirits.
Above is a pair of northern shovelers doing a courtship ritual where they spin round and round whilst dabbling for treats. Flirting and eating at the same time: efficient!
Also find below a short YouTube video (35 seconds) of the couple, taken on the same day at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge in Washington state, USA.
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