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Two Years Ago

A Pandemic Retrospective

January. Ring in the new year like any other. Party hats, funny glasses, whatever.

Hear whispers of some virus in China. Worry more about the imminent threat of World War 3 and untimely passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

Wonder how much crazier things can get. After all, we’re only one month into 2020.

Start seeing people wear masks when out shopping. Listen as my parents tell me to do the same. Weird, but yeah sure. Can’t hurt.

Put on my mask. Get in line for the new temperature checks at T&T Supermarket. Laugh at the pictures of people panic buying toilet paper and pasta while waiting. Green light. All good.

Step inside. Help myself to some hand sanitizer. Make my way around the store and see the barren shelves for myself. Grab the last five packs of spaghettini for good measure.

Stand in line to pay. Watch staff wipe down the self checkout kiosks with Lysol after every use. Get a Twitter notification while waiting: the NBA and NHL are pausing their season.

Okay, I guess this is kind of a big deal.

Start working from home. Revel in the extra half hour of sleep I get not needing to commute. Become familiar with the “Hey Greg, you’re on mute.” routine that starts off every Zoom call.

Visit multiple grocery stores desperately seeking out flour to participate in the home baking craze. Super consciously social distance from everyone else while I’m there. Stare daggers at anyone who dares to stand too close.

Head to Home Depot to grab some lumber for the home (office) makeover after being inspired on TikTok. Aggressively wash my hands for twenty seconds with soap upon returning home.

Download six different home workout apps on my phone. Annoy the hell out of my neighbours with all the jumping. Settle for taking walks outside instead, but still keep two-metre separation when passing others on the sidewalk.

Forego holiday plans as dining rooms are still shut down. Move them online instead. Amuse ourselves with the creative ways businesses are working around the restrictions, like improvised outdoor patios with furniture clearly meant for inside use.

Anxiously wait for my COVID-19 vaccine invitation. Watch with jealousy as friends get their shot before me. Post pictures of my “I’m Vaccinated” sticker on social when I finally do get jabbed, while lying in bed due to the side effects.

Go through the motions for another year. Make the most of Google Doc’s collaboration tools while dreaming of our next vacation over Facebook Messenger. Talk about how amazing it’ll be when we get to all hang out together again.

Still, spend a second holiday season at home, mostly alone. Cancel travel plans and hangouts as a new variant emerges. Wait patiently for my invitation for a booster dose of the vaccine.

Think about the last two years. Lament all the places we couldn’t go and events we had to skip. Reflect on all that we went through, yet notice how little has changed.

Pull into a parking spot in front of T&T – just like I did two years ago.

Grab my mask. Over one ear, then over the other – just like I did two years ago.

Look around and appreciate how others around me are doing the same to keep each other safe – just like we did two years ago.

Realize that the legacy of this coronavirus pandemic won’t be defined by what we couldn’t do, but how we found ways to accomplish the things we did, together (but apart). ∎

Derek Woo

By day, Derek builds email campaigns and marketing automations. By night, however, he switches gears and builds on his lengthy lists of unfinished writing drafts. And sometimes, when the stars align (literally – he usually should be sleeping when this happens), he finally finishes one of these drafts and publishes it in the hopes that someone, somewhere will enjoy the read.

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