We’re All Behind Together

I’m a public librarian. Even though my workplace is obviously shut down because of COVID, I’m working from home. I know just how lucky I am how to have a job period. And honestly, there are lots of things about it that I actually really enjoy. I get to pet my dog whenever the heck I want. I’m finally working on paperwork that was due a month ago. I think I wore the same pair of shorts for three days this week. Life’s good.

But there are lots of things about my work that I can’t do from home. Even though I’m obviously not working on the service desk or leading any public programs right now, a lot of the work I can *technically* do at home is most efficiently done at my branch. I can’t plan things for the summer unless I have my hands on library resources. I need books from our shelves, I need office equipment, and I need quick access to my coworkers. I’m doing what I can from home, but those first few weeks back are gonna be rough. I’m the new kid on the block at work and I constantly feel like I’m falling behind even without a massive shutdown. When the closings started, I spent half the nights stressing about the virus and half of them stressing about work.

But I had a video conference with my department this week, and a few people expressed the same thing. I realized something: we’re all in the same boat. We’re all behind together. Nobody at your workplace or your school has any advantage over you. Everyone from the class clown to the star student to the brown-noser is sitting at home in their pajamas. Even celebrities, who never seem to be in the same city for three days, much less the same building, are at a stand-still in their work. The paparazzi has been so stuck they’re lucky to get a shot of Don Cheadle power-walking.

Keep doing what you’re doing. Work if you’re able to. Go to your online classes, even if you don’t feel like you’re making any progress. Keep up with regular routines as best you can so you’re really not behind when we go back to work. I know one of the scariest parts of this whole thing is that we don’t know what comes next. We don’t know when this will end. We don’t know what kind of train wreck we’ll stumble upon when we finally get back to normal. We might all come out of quarantine and be so damn busy we’ll wish we were back inside.

But everyone on this planet will know what you mean when you say “I need a few weeks to catch up.” They’ll have to catch up too.

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