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The New Normal

Started: 2024-03-06 20:42:19

Submitted: 2024-03-06 21:51:23

Visibility: World-readable

Four years after the pandemic started

Four years ago today was my first day working remotely as the COVID-19 pandemic started to take over Seattle, as its beachhead on the way to taking over the rest of the country. This means I should do my traditional anniversary post catching up on the last year in the aftermath of the pandemic and looking ahead to the next year. And for the first time since we fell into this global health emergency four years ago, I feel like I don't have all that much to say.

In the past year I've settled into the idea that our current state, whatever that is, is now the new normal. We mostly go unmasked most of the time, unless it's especially crowded. My kids have been back in school, full-time and in person, for years. The biggest change to my daily life inspired by the pandemic is my new devotion to remote work, so I can live in Santa Cruz and work in tech without driving across Highway 17 every day (though my employer still lists my official location as the office on the other side of the mountain, which I hope doesn't come back to haunt me).

San Francisco Soma skyline from the end of Pier 14
San Francisco Soma skyline from the end of Pier 14

(I present the picture above, which I took last week when I went to San Francisco to see Madonna, in comparison to a nearly-identical picture I took of the Soma skyline from the end of Pier 14 four years ago, down to the minute, according to the timestamp provided by the camera on my phone. The 28th of February, 2020, was my last totally-normal day before the pandemic; on Leap Day I learned about the first death in the US associated with COVID-19, at a nursing home in Kirkland, while I was on a plane flying into the new hotspot.)

This evening I rode VTA light rail into Mountain View, and after I sat down, the guy across the aisle from me on the almost-empty train looks up and says he has COVID. (He's not wearing a mask.) I give him a weird look and stay sitting where I was, because other than the weirdly-chatty passenger it's a perfectly good seat.

Then the train gets to its terminus at Mountain View and he gets off, crosses the platform, and boards the train waiting to head back in the opposite direction. I didn't stick around to see if he told the people there that he had COVID or how they chose to react to that.

Weird encounters on public transit notwithstanding, I at least have reached the point where I don't have to think about COVID-19 all that often, which works for me.