Writing this at the end of my first week back to work, and I’m only just beginning to understand how much everything really has changed. It’s hard trying to settle into what I’m realising is the ‘new normal’.
It has been a week of new experiences and new routines. A week to start new habits and the week I learned the term “masknie”.
Now I knew that after 12 weeks of furlough it would be an adjustment getting back into the work routine. But when the inevitable call came in: “can you start back on Monday?” I didn’t feel ready. Of course comedian that I am couldn’t resist replying “hmmm let me check my calendar”. *queue laughter*.
I almost felt like I going back to school after the summer holidays. That feeling of dread, but also excitement to see your friends, and I have missed my work buddies a lot! But as I say, I still felt anxious about going back to work. Not only due to the (potentially) irrational fear that I had forgotten how to do my job, but also because I was properly stepping out of my bubble for the first time in months. Up until now, going out to the shops or on socially distanced walks with my friend had felt reasonably safe; because I was self-isolating, they were self isolating… lovely.
Now I was going to be using public transport, and working in a customer facing job that had me dealing with the general public all day everyday. It was such a big jump from what I had been living with for the last 3 months!
That being said, after the first few days it was as though I had never been away, and if it wasn’t for the PPE and the locked door policy we are now operating with, I’d say things are well on their way to being back to normal. And there is the sad truth. That it’s becoming normal to wear masks wherever you go, to sanitise your hands every 2 minutes, and not hug your friends and family.
The Commute Back to Work
For me the biggest part of going back was the travel. I rely on trains for my commute and spend about 4 hours (sometimes more) a day getting to/from work. Before lockdown I didn’t think much of it, it was just something I did. Now there was uncertainty: are they going to be safe? Are they going to be running on time? I’d heard that it was now compulsory to wear a face covering on any public transport, so I assumed the safety aspect was ok?
There was a reduced timetable, and honestly that was my main concern. I hate to be late so getting to work in the morning was a priority for me and has actually been ok… the way home is slightly more frustrating but my employers have been really nice about letting me leave on time to get my train.
I’d been pretty good over lockdown, getting up between 8-8.30am everyday, but oh man, I was so out of practise! That first day back I was organised. I’d brought my railcard and ticket in advance and was at the station with plenty of time thanks to the 7 alarms (yes really) I’d set across different devices. Of course I didn’t need any of them; I was so stressed about missing the train that I woke at 5:30am in a state of panic!
Overall the commuting experience post lockdown is fine, I wish there were more frequent options, but the trains are quiet making social distancing fairly easy. Plus the insistence of face coverings (although stuffy) makes good sense.
One thing I’ve found interesting, especially with the hot weather, is that you can tell who the commuters are from those just using public transport for leisure… commuters wear the face coverings, and I’ve noticed a lot of the time people only out for the day don’t. It’s nothing profound, just an observation.
So I’ve been using disposable face masks for my commute, but I’m looking into getting a reusable one. I hate the waste of the singular-use ones! If anyone has any recommendations I would be really grateful, there’s just so many to choose from!
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
Along with the new protocols at work I also have to wear a mask and apron as well as a mask on the train. It is my least favourite part of my uniform, my glasses are constantly fogging up, my face is warm all the time(!) and my skin is breaking out in masknie (mask acne)… it feels like I’m living under a blanket!
I know I shouldn’t complain because people have it so much worse, and have been dealing with such extreme conditions. Particularly those on the front-line of the pandemic, who haven’t had the proper protection and had to just get on with it. I’ve got so much respect for our key workers. Our doctors and nurses, and all the others who have kept us going throughout all of this. They’ve worked so hard and in such awful conditions, we all owe them so much.
If any of you are preparing to go back to work, or if you’ve worked throughout lockdown; feel free to share your ‘new normal’s’ with us too. We’d love to know how you’re getting on!
If you’re still in lockdown and looking for inspiration on what to do, read our Lockdown Survival Guide: https://www.emgoingplaces.com/2020/05/lockdown-survival-guide/
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