Notes from the Pandemic Time void

I’ve been feeling out of sync lately. Not quite sure what the day of the week is, not quite sure what my work schedule is.  It’s not surprising; this whole last year has been one long day/week/month.  I’m still referring to 2019 when I say ‘last year’. I’ve actually enjoyed floating in the time void, it’s relaxing. But we’re approaching the end of lockdown, times and dates will matter again.   It’s like floating in the middle of a lake; lovely for a while, but now I’m approaching the shore and scrabbling for something to hold onto to pull myself out of the lake and back into the world.

And as we re-enter the world, what will it look like? Every news story talks about getting ‘Back to Normal’.  But it that really what we want? Was ‘Normal’ really that good, or was it just what we were used to? Even the phrase ‘back to normal’; normal means going backwards.

Humans are resistant to change. Change is difficult, and awkward, and often painful, but we’ve had a year of unprecedented upheaval, what’s a little bit more? A lot of the changes in the last year were things people had wanted for ages. Flexitime, work from home; they went from ‘Impossible’ and ‘Unfeasible’ to ‘This is what we have to do.’

The government wants people to get back into office building because of the knock on effect for other businesses, but maybe in this ‘awkward period of adjustment’ those businesses will have to adapt. Rishi Sunak said that if employers force people to work from home, those employees will quit. I like Rishi Sunak, but he’s in cloud cuckoo land with that statement. Aside from the fact that no one is quitting a job in this economy, “I demand to be allowed to put on uncomfortable, expensive clothes and spend 2 hours a day on public transport so I can spend 8 hours in a poorly ventilated cramped office with people I may or may not get along with” is a rallying cry used by no one ever. Economic factors may well keep people working from home. Why rent an expensive office downtown? It’s cheaper to buy each person a laptop and send them home. Studies show they are more productive without the stresses of the office.

There are other things that need to change. We need to address the climate crisis, which will mean significant changes in daily life to reduce pollution and greenhouse gases. We need to address the wealth gap and the crisis of low wages. This last year has highlighted what it means to be an Essential worker. Healthcare workers, obviously, but also pharmacists, bus drivers, grocery store workers; people who had to work through the lockdowns because society would cease to function without them. For a brief spell, we all recognised and appreciated their work. I hope we can keep that appreciation.  Grocery store workers are essential. Instagram Influencers are not.

So many things need to change. Let’s start with an easy one. Daylight Savings Time. It’s a stupid thing we’ve done for a hundred years. It once served a purpose. It no longer does. There is no economic or social benefit to continuing it. It is, if anything, a deeply annoying twice yearly exercise in figuring out how to reset all your various clocks, eventually deciding it’s easier to just do the one hour math for six months. And I’m more annoyed by the lost hour of sleep in spring than I am rested by the extra hour in the Autumn.  

So let’s start with abandoning Daylight Savings time. Who’s with me!!!!!

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