Like many of you, I am currently working from home because of the pandemic (and not-so-secretly hoping it gets to continue afterwards). My office is in my den, which looks out towards the parking lot of our condo complex. I know…it doesn’t sound like much of a view. But actually it’s kind of nice.
From spring through the fall, birds and chipmunks and squirrels perform their respective theatrics. Once there was even a curious bunny who decided to try out his burgeoning thespian skills. (He has not done a repeat performance, so I suspect his stage colleagues were not that impressed with him.) In any event, they are busy, busy, busy little critters and I am happy to have them break up the day.
In winter, when the feathery or furry performers are off to warmer climes or snoozing the months away, it’s still quite pretty. Whether it’s a blanket of fluffy, freshly-fallen snow or a storm still in progress, it’s lovely – especially because I don’t have to do my hour-long commute in it!
But, one of my absolute favourite things of the day happens at about 8:20 every morning.
That’s when Paul comes home.
No, he’s not my spouse/partner/significant other, child or other member of my household.
In fact, I’ve only spoken to him once, when I met him and his wife as we all happened to be coming home at the same time one day a year or so ago. They live in one of the condos upstairs with their daughter. Our respective schedules and habits obviously don’t intersect much because that hasn’t happened since.
When Paul gets home, he backs their SUV into their parking spot. This is important because it means that the driver’s door is on the side of the entrance where my den window is. When he gets out and walks towards the entrance, he ends up heading first towards my window, before going up the steps to the front door.
The first few times I noticed him coming home it was completely by fluke. I happened to look up at that particular moment, or something caught my eye, or whatever. Then, a couple of times, he happened to look in the same direction as me at the same time I looked in his direction. We each smiled politely and waved. It has since become a daily habit and even when he’s wearing a face mask, it’s still easy to see his cheerful smile (at the end of a night shift no less which is no mean feat in and of itself).
Integral to this little story is the fact that live by myself and, while I have enjoyed many aspects of physical distancing and restricted social interactions (I love me my alone time!), it has been challenging not having an actual human being to interact with. Phones and emails and texts and so on are fine and definitely help, but there’s nothing like looking at a real, live, 3D human being and having an interaction.
And so, I soon found myself looking forward to 8:20 a.m. The smile and wave take less than 2 seconds out of the 86,400 seconds in a day, but it is one of the most enjoyable things that happens every work day.
Paul likely doesn’t think twice about it. And why would he? He has family responsibilities as soon as he gets in the door and likely myriad other things to occupy his time.
But it sure has meant a lot to me. It helped me feel connected to the world outside my home, especially for those first couple of months of the pandemic. So many things were (and still are) strange and unpredictable. It has been nice to have something cheerful and predictable to look forward to each day!
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