Wilfrid Posted March 15 Share Posted March 15 I have been acutely aware that we were approaching the third anniversary of New York City shutting down. It's almost impossible to believe three years have passed -- and that made me start reflecting on how many changes associated with COVID have become permanent. If you would like to read my general reflections, they're published here. I also published a list of those changes, pasted below for convenience. I would genuinely appreciate reactions or additions (there are some references in here to the first part of the article). Changes that stuck around Remote working. Video calls. Virtual conferences. Seeing colleagues in the flesh maybe once or twice a year. Recording things I would once have presented live. No commute. No office. Interacting on tools like Slack. A less clear dividing line between work and leisure (doing the laundry during the working day, finishing up a piece of work outside normal hours). What do weekends even mean? (Note: This is an odd one because during the lockdown I accepted a job with a company that is natively remote. It was remote when nobody had ever heard of COVID and there is no office to go back to. I would be working remotely anyway. Nevertheless I will alway associate remote working with COVID.) Nights on the town. Look back at my introduction. Four days in March, four different bars. That had been my life for decades. And I grew up in Europe, so I started young. Under lockdown? First, and for weeks, there were no bars open. Then there was outdoor drinking, kind of okay in the summer. For a long spell, while living primarily outside the city, the closest decent bar was a mile's walk away. I have never (so far) gone back to my almost daily bar visits. One reason: I knew intellectually that my drinks expendure was huge, but seeing the savings pile sky-high in my bank account was a whole different thing. The dining scene. Far fewer restaurant meals too, and along with that a relative detachment from the New York dining scene. The latter was underway before COVID. I was traveling so much on business that I did most of my restaurant-going in other cities. There was less excitement about going out when I got home. Anyone who knows the rest of the content on this blog will understand what a huge change this has been. Who needs cash? This is one that was accelerated, I think, by COVID, when from high-end restaurants to corner delis touchless payment became a thing. I can go weeks now without pulling cash from an ATM. You just tap for everything, including buses and subways. No commute. Most of my adult life, I've gotten on buses and trains to go to and from an office. My commute is now about ten yards and I don't need to bundle up for it. This does shave time off the normal working day (speaking of which, shaving and other ablutions don't always need to happen at dawn). Downside, I rarely take the 12 trips during the week after which MTA trips are free. Time. I could write at length about this. Perceptions of time have changed, and probably in different ways for different people. Living those months and years under restricted conditions was a long haul. But looking back, the last three years flashed by like three months. Case in point: When I run into people I used to see frequently before lockdown, it's almost impossible to believe I haven't seen them in three years. It's like, we just pick up the conversation where it left off. Similarly, I sometimes think of places I used to visit a lot: When was I last there? Oh, wait, 2018? 2017? A rigid routine. We all found our own routes through lockdown and those months of relative solitude and practical home confinement in 2020. Mine was to adopt a rigid routine, with activities meticulously assigned to small sections of the day. Some of that I've certainly abandoned, but some has stuck. It seemed very important in 2020 and 2021 to follow the local news, not least to track the course of the pandemic. Everything still stops at 5pm for me to check the local headlines and weather. I set aside specific times to read specific numbers of pages in my current books (I tend to read three at a time). I still do that. With the bars closed, I instituted a home cocktail hour. On the nights I don't go out (most nights; see 2. above) that remains in place. Plenty dishes, little laundry. Thanks to remote working, no BEC on the way to the office, no steam table lunch. With fewer restaurant dinners, that has meant many, many days of cleaning up after three meals. And snacks. And tea and coffee. And cocktails. During lockdown, I was living with household members on completely different diets to me. That meant fewer shared utensils. On the other hand, if you don't commute; if you spend days indoors working in casual gear (and you know we do), look at how the quantity of laundry has plummeted. And dry cleaning? How are dry cleaners still in business? Delivery and pick-up. I was an Amazon user before COVID but of course I was buying books, not groceries and household items. I went through an unprecedented period of having meals delivered rather than eating out -- partly because so many restaurants raised their delivery game. That's hardly necessary where I live now, surrounded by casual food options. But who gets take-out any more? By which I mean stopping by a restaurant, looking at the menu, ordering the food, then waiting for it to be prepared and schlepping it home. With the exception of a local Chinese place with no web presence, I never do that now. I order ahead and select a time for pick-up. And I use whichever online ordering service is currently offering me a discount. Off the road. In 2019, I visited Las Vegas three times, San Francisco twice, Dallas twice, Boston twice, Orlando twice, Chicago twice, Austin, Denver, Miami, New Orleans and Philadelphia. Those were all work trips. I also flew to Barcelona for pleasure. That adds up to 19 trips. Of course travel was drastically curtailed in 2020 and 2021; it started returning last year. This year, I expect to make six or maybe seven trips. I don't believe it will return to 2019 levels in my working lifetime. It's a pity; I like travel. 3 Quote Link to post Share on other sites
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