It was surreal walking into a near empty office. It was like one of those neutron bomb scenarios you see in the movies. All the things were where they were – just the people were no more!!
Walked into my empty cubicle exactly 52 weeks – a whole year – later!! Set the laptop down on the station and immediately the printer came to life with the soft purring of cleaning the cartridges. It was good to realize that somethings had not changed forever yet.
Checked on the staff at the hotel bar next door – had even a drink with two colleagues there – like the good old times. It was difficult to recognize the staff with their masks on but they had no doubt that the nosy guest was back again moment I started chatting them up!!
Their menu has changed but Tracey and Deval ordered what we used to have long back when just to relive the old days.
Was encouraged to feel some semblance of normalcy starting to creep in.
Was painful to see all the grand 2020 plans we had laid that I had printed out to organize them neatly on the boards around me!
Ah! The best laid plans of mice and men… as the old bard had observed once…
Last year, my travels came to a screeching halt when I canceled my Mar 16 flight to Chicago the previous day. Pandemic took over the world and I did not get on to a flight for almost eleven months.
Exactly a year later – on Mar 15th – I am back to my work travel. Car in the same spot at the airport on a Monday morning, finished my banana and threw the peel in the same trash can before getting into the airport, same routine of picking up a paper boarding pass, Clear Pre check thru …
Felt almost like the good old Monday mornings with a few differences… the call to India on the drive to the airport was to my brother and then sister instead of my mom, the airport was fairly empty (but not like what I saw in Feb) and of course, everybody was wearing masks.
By the way, in that whole one year, I completely forgot to fix the wheel of my suitcase that got broken in one of the last trips last year!!!
Good to be back in the air for work again!!
I-75 was completely shut down north bound. Fortunately, I was going south bound. The unique thing is this was not due to your usual accidents, construction or VIP visits. Found out that a 48 year old man from Mississippi had climbed over the overpass and jumped down to the highway and got smashed to his death by a trailer! What a tragedy! 🙁
We will see how far we can get past the gate first…
Update at midnight:
That plane did not even have a fighting chance to get out of the gate. Eventually, it was a different plane, a different equipment, 7 – yes, seven – delays amounting to a full 5 hour delay (we could not find our crew, the cleaners, the baggage folks apparently gave wrong information to the pilots, de-icing mix up – all sorts of fun that you can only take in your stride after you have put in about 8 million miles of flying) finally in Atlanta at midnight.
Strangely, I feel my world is normal again!!
I checked in last night into the Marriott in Brooklyn downtown. This being my first stay after nearly eight months at a Marriott, I was not sure what the new rules were given all the pandemic stuff. So, I asked the old, African American, helpful but rather stern lady at the front desk if she could tell me what all has changed. She saw my profile and immediately realized I was used to being pampered by Marriott.
After checking me in, she came out and took me thru a whole list of things I cannot get or cannot do any more. No more restaurants in the hotel. No more bars. The lobby is not open. Even the business center (which I normally use for printouts) was not open. I had to wear my mask all the time other than when I was in my room. I could not get food delivered to my room either. She lectured me on all those stuff – in a nice way – but in a nice, school-principal way.
Subsequently, I made a habit of reading up all the notices Marriott had put up all over the place. They certainly have taken all the efforts to keep the visitors safe and make sure the visitors keep others safe. In the morning, I noticed something in the elevator. There was a notice that only two people should get into the elevator at a time (unless it was a family). But something else caught my eye. And I took a picture of it.
Unfortunately, my friend was not there at the guest counters. Ah! Well!! I went about my day. In the evening, as I was on my way tp pick up my dinner, I noticed that she was there in the check in counter and all by herself.
I went up to her and told her that I had a question about the Covid rules.
She instantly recognized me. She came out from behind her desk and asked what was it.
I showed her the picture of the elevator floor I had taken.
“The elevator allows only two passengers at a time”, I said.
“Yes, sir! We are strict about social distancing”.
“I get that. But last night when I left you and got into the elevator, somebody was already there. And she was occupying the two feet corner. I had to take the other corner and stand up on one foot all the time. How does that help with Covid?”.
She had no clue what I was talking about. She saw the picture.
Then looked at me, perhaps wondering how daft I was.
That was when I winked!
And that stern principal laughed so hard that her mask came off! And she apologized for it!!
It was a good start back to my travelogs again!