Mar 28, 2020

Change is in the Air - Part 2

Click to read  PART 1

March 11-12:  While I was struggling with the fallout of Expo, I also knew my employer was keenly aware of the COVID-19 situation.  A load test was arranged for the following week.  Everyone with remote access was to log on from home and test the waters, so to speak.  I remembered as a kid, my friends and I would go into the girl’s bathroom at school and flush all the toilets at once.  We were sure it would flood the building and we could go home.  The goal with all of us flooding our servers all at once was to not break anything.    

In my area, we are divided between three locations; two in Nebraska (different cities) and a location in Texas.  About 30% of our associates are teleworkers.  I've had remote access for years.  I used to travel a lot for work and living 30 miles from work, it's nice not to have to negotiate bad roads on bad weather days.    

As we waited for local schools to make a decision about closures, it was business as usual for the most part with one eye on the business continuity plan.  Having all of our offices in the midwest, I envisioned a tornado taking out one or two of our buildings or loss of power from a blizzard or what we know now as a bomb cyclone, the cause of last year’s flooding.  Will our plans work if we have to shut all of our buildings?  We are not dealing with a decision equal to canceling a horse show - this is big business with thousands of employees.  No COVID-19 cases had even been reported in Lincoln.  

March 13: Just like it did for Expo, things progressed quickly.  Schools announced they would be closing indefinitely.  The load testing was moved up to Friday the 13th and associates with remote access were told to work from home the following week.  This could help alleviate issues with child care and help reduce the population in our buildings, therefore reducing the risk of contamination.  

I left the office early as I hadn’t stopped at the grocery store all week.  I was starting to get a little concerned with the toilet paper situation and was sure my local store was not one of those where shelves were emptied.  It was like Black Friday and shopping for a blizzard all at once.  There were people all of the the place with carts stacked high with food.  Long lines formed at every cashier and it wasn’t even 3:00 PM!  There was not a roll of toilet paper to be found.  

I went home to do the load testing and planned to go back into town later that weekend, finish up grocery shopping and get the rest of the equipment from my office.  But a little voice told me it felt a bit like abandoning the ship.  I don’t have young children at home, I live in the country and we are pretty isolated and I have to say, even with the panic in the grocery store, I was still a bit in denial about this whole thing. 

I returned to the office on Monday.  This would be Day 1 of 8 - and what we are no calling the “longest year of the week”.  

My March 16 Post to Facebook:

I don’t know how many times today I have said or thought “the whole damn world’s gone mad.” Yet here I am in the throws of the craziness, not wanting to believe but scared not to! Just when the grass was getting green and the south breezes warmer, we are quasi-grounded by the leaders of our state and nation.
Admittedly, I jumped in feet first about a week ago, canceling our horse expo. Our vendors were spooked and our volunteer base dwindling. Expenses were still minimal. Coincidentally, an equine flu was going through some local barns. If truth be known, the horse disease closed the deal for me. Horse people risk their own health all the time, but don’t screw with our animals! Today our governor and the White House has asked we avoid events with groups bigger than ten. We would have been so screwed. For once, the force was with me.
At work, we have poured over our disaster recovery and business continuity plans. When these were being prepared, silly me thought the worst case scenario would be a tornado. Even as we crafted our plans, I was somewhat unbelieving. Sure, I’d go through the motions because its my job, but I somehow felt I was drinking the Kool-aid. I had toilet paper. I bought it at Menards when I was picking up paint. I was such a believer in the madness, I only bought one package of 10.
After work on Friday, I stopped at the grocery store down the block from work. I parked on the end by the liquor store because I was only picking up a few quick items and checkout is quicker. When I entered the grocery area proper, I was aghast. Who were all these people in my store? Carts beyond full with lines down the aisle. I scooped up my pizzas and a few frozen dinners; alcohol. I apologized to the liquor store cashier since I had went over the 8 item limit for that check-out. I didn’t know I needed to prepare for doomsday! I just thought we were going through the motions. Didn’t our President say it was a hoax? When did he become a believer? I always had a fear he might be the anti-Christ, now I don’t know what to think?
Last week ended with a new buzz word: Social Distancing. I could get on board with that. As a horse rider and camper, that is what we do. Distance ourselves from chaos and crowds and head to the country. To put it into practice at work, employees with remote access should work from home to avoid larger groups. I packed a few things from my desk on Friday in preparation for doing just that. But after the epiphany in the grocery store, working at home felt a bit like the captain sneaking off a doomed ship. So until I am told otherwise, I’d continue to go into the office.
The parking lot had fewer cars than a typical Monday. Signs were posted at the door advising the sick to not enter. Immediately it made me want to clear my throat. God forbid I cough! And just try not touching your face when they tell you not to! I closed the door to my office so I could get all that out of my system.
Like a well-oiled machine, my comrades and I worked to implement change coming down from our company leaders and our state. It is not a drill but the real deal, despite the absurdity of it all. While it's been said we will never know if what was done is overkill, not acting upon it when we should, would be tragic. I believe this 100%.
After work, I parked in the regular parking lot of the grocery store. The store was full. I didn’t have a list but shopped like I would on a normal day. A woman, a decade or so younger than me, said conspiratorially to me, “I feel like everyone thinks the world is ending.” I didn’t disagree but yet here we were with our carts. I bought my usual staples and a few extra frozen pizzas and ten pounds of hamburger. The shelves were stocked well, although they were out of Campbell’s Tomato Soup and the store brand bread. I was disappointed and a tad worried to see the toilet paper shelves empty. I spent $192, my biggest grocery bill since both boys lived at home.
I went out to the barn to feed the horses and wondered about spring. Last year it was the flooding. And then I broke my ribs. By the time I healed, it was July and hotter than hell. With last month’s faux spring, I was hopeful for an early ride season. I had entered a few competitions, made camping reservations and started to condition Windy. And here we are. I'm not getting any younger!
I hope when this comes up in my Facebook memories next year, I can reflect on it and know I made the best decisions with the information I was given and everything turned out well and good and the virus did not kill thousands, but quietly disappeared like the killer African bees that were suppose to be stateside decades ago. (I didn’t forget about them!) I’ll remember I was a rule follower. That I chose solidarity over isolation. That I can put personal feelings aside for the good of an organization or company. And I put trust in our leadership.
I’ll remember I should have bought 2 packages of toilet paper.
Stay safe, all. (t vasa)
To Be Continued.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I am so glad you stopped by and look forward to hearing from you! Do come again.