IEU member Tim Collins returned to his workplace after a two-year hiatus. He shares his experience.
I went to work this month, for the first time in nearly two years. That is, I went back to the office, as I’ve been working from home.
I recognised many of the early morning commuters at Gosford station. I felt like I’d won the lottery as, unlike them, my boss is happy for me to run the COVID gauntlet only once a week.
At Railway Square, things were noticeably quieter than early 2020. The formerly buzzing Colombian café on George St was closed, and it wouldn’t have surprised me to see a few tumbleweeds blowing down the tram lines.
From the outside, my office block looked the same. On the inside, it was a bit like the Mary Celeste.
Nothing had been removed from the noticeboard since March 2020. A moment frozen in time. It’s a language school, so the class timetable bore the names of many I may never see again. Somebody’s notepad lay open, with words from a long-forgotten meeting literally cut off mid-stream, the pen gathering dust alongside.
Fine colleagues lost
On another noticeboard, a timetable at the end of 2019 brandished some 97 classes. Today there are seven. Many fine colleagues, many good friends, moved on due to COVID.
Our school is part of the higher education sector, where over 17,000 jobs have been lost due to the pandemic. All those names, like seeds scattered carelessly to the wind.
Of course, there are similar COVID-driven scenarios nationally and globally. But like eating pizza in Italy, you can only go on your own experience. The visceral.