“See You Monday!”

So. I’m going back into the office tomorrow.

Not full-time. It’ll probably just be for a couple of days a week, working from home the rest. One of my coworkers asked me how I felt about coming back, and I replied, “Pretty good, since it was my idea!” Honestly, I have mixed feelings about it. Not because I’m afraid of going out in public and worried about germs; I just really don’t want to put pants on again.

At least not ones that have a zipper.

But Ye Olde Media Company has been totally chill about the whole thing and never pressured me into coming back. Last week I started to miss the vibe though, and it’s impossible not to feel a disconnect—especially when you see social media posts about cool things happening in the office and you are not there to experience them. Plus, I miss the popcorn machine, if I’m being honest.

Oh, and the people, too.

It’s been something like 67 days since I’ve been in the office now, so the novelty has long since worn off. I’ve been in regular contact with my coworkers, either via Slack or Zoom or phone calls, but it’s not the same as seeing them in person. So I reached out to Jenna on Friday and said, Hey, I’m thinking about coming in a couple of days a week and working from home the rest; would this be okay? It took her all of two seconds to respond, Yes, of course, let me clean your workstation for you, SEE YOU MONDAY! I had to force myself to hit send because I knew I would just keep putting it off and finding excuses not to go in. Five minutes later she reported back that she had moved the junk off my desk (the fact that it had turned into a staging area for wayward office supplies contributed to the disconnect) and sanitized it, so it was too late to say “just kidding!” I’m committed now.

But that’s okay. This weird existence that began in March has never felt real to me. It’s almost been like a vacation, but one where I have been working, so not at all like a vacation. But it did motivate me to set up my home office and buy a monitor, and taught me just how productive I can be from home (occasional cooking-while-on-the-clock notwithstanding), so it’s set the stage for what I envision as a “new normal” where I’ll work in the office some days and WFH others. Tara says it will do me good to get out of the house, and while I haven’t quite devolved to the point in Mr. Mom where Michael Keaton’s character, Jack Butler, whiles away his days watching soap operas and gossiping with the neighborhood housewives, she isn’t wrong. So tomorrow I’ll dust off those dormant social skills and venture out into the real world again.

For one day, anyway.

At least I’ll look presentable. Like so many people, I’d gone months without a haircut. I was looking pretty shaggy and it was starting to bug me. Meanwhile, Tara said I should grow it out, and even had the nerve to suggest I fashion it into a ponytail. WTF, woman. That look reminds me too much of Mr. Sensitive Ponytail Man from Singles, Linda’s on-again/off-again college boyfriend who is hopelessly bland, and I just can’t. I’d want to slap myself every time I looked in the mirror.

Fortunately, I won’t have to. Our Great Clips salons have reopened, so I went and got a haircut last week. The whole experience was surreal; when I arrived, a masked woman at the door was wielding a clipboard and checking people in. All customers were required to wear masks and wait outside until their name was called. To be honest, I feel like the power was going to her head a little, almost like she was in charge of the velvet rope at Studio 54, picking and choosing who to let in based on some set of obscurely random merits, though that illusion was shattered the minute I was granted access inside. The lighting at Great Clips was fluorescent rather than disco-ball, there were zero celebrity sightings, and nobody was snorting coke or having sex in the corner. I was escorted to a chair, given hand sanitizer, and then proceeded to have a conversation while wearing a mask, which isn’t the easiest thing in the world. My only prior experience with that involves the phrase “Trick or treat!” Plus, the stylist frequently had to unhook the mask to trim around my ears. It was quite the balancing act for her. Just my luck, she was a chatty one, too. After being holed up for 67 days, I am not used to conversing with other humans. Totally worth it though just to have reasonable-length hair again.

Saturday was pretty much the perfect day. Tara and I headed out for an adventure, beginning with a very foggy drive through the Black Hills.

Our destination was Custer State Park; we needed to buy new annual passes, and also wanted an excuse to check out the baby bison and burros. Mission accomplished on both counts.

We also ended up exploring a brand new hiking trail in the park, Barnes Canyon. It’s a 9.5-mile out-and-back hike if you do the whole thing; we didn’t have time for that, but still managed to cover 3.5 miles. Pretty cool trail; it follows an old road used by miners, loggers, and homesteaders. Everything was lush and green, and because it’s located just off Wildlife Loop Road, you share the path with any animal that happens to wander over. At one point we came across a couple of bison; they were a good distance away, but it was still a little unnerving to be on their turf miles from the safety of the car. Great hike though; we will totally do it again. The whole thing someday.

Afterward, we stopped at a restaurant in Hill City for a late lunch, and it felt like the land that time forgot. There were actual paper menus and, aside from a handful of customers, no face masks. How refreshing. Also, the food was delicious, as was the wine. So much so that we brought a couple of bottles home with us.

We may be seeing my parents for a visit soon. I hope so. It would do them good to come out here, where there are wide-open spaces and fewer restrictions and adorable baby animals.

22 thoughts on ““See You Monday!”

  1. I’d been wondering how the hair cut thing was being done with face masks on. Thanks for satisfying that burning curiosity that I may or may not have simply figured out on my own with a mild amount of effort.
    Love the baby animals. Good luck at work tomorrow. Kind of distressing that your desk became a closet, like the kid who leaves for college and his room becomes a sewing room, or something.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know! Apparently we got a new phone system in my absence, and my desk became a repository for all the new handsets. Is that what you call them? I’m no longer sure since I’m used to carrying my phone around in my pocket. It always feels weird to use something with a cord.


  2. You are far ahead of us here. No one is going back to offices yet and no one I know of has gotten a haircut. The working from home is one thing, but all the hippie hair is a whole ‘other thing. Not sure how I feel about it. Stay safe, be well, tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s what most of my friends and family are telling me, too. We didn’t have a phased reopening like a lot of places—we just reopened. Which isn’t to say we might have to backtrack at some point (knock on wood). Hope you guys catch up soon.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re projecting all over my blog, aren’t ya? She actually has been going into work every day. Her bank closed to the public (they have since reopened) but she never stopped going in. I think maybe she just wants me to feel the pain of actually going out into the world like her.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My husband went back two weeks ago, in what the corp is calling the first wave. There are only 5 others in his dept that are back, so he said its nothing like before.

    Luckily, one of my friends cuts hair and has a little salon in her basement. My husband and daughter already went, but I’m going this week for a cut. I feel disloyal to my regular stylist of the last 29 years, but it just seems safer not being exposed to more strangers.

    Still not able to read parts of texts in your posts, as they’re covered with the pictures. I don’t know why this is suddenly happening?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I knew what the issue was! WordPress just rolled out a new block editor, and that seems to have coincided with your problems. I guess you’ll just have to trust the words you’re missing are just as brilliant as the ones you’re seeing, ha. 🙂

      I’m sure your regular stylist would understand and forgive you under the circumstances. We should all be so lucky to have access to black market haircuts!


  4. Mark, the great thing about this is that you’re going back gradually, which will get you used to being in an official office again. Like you, I don’t have a problem working alone, but I also miss not being with people, because like you said…it’s not the same seeing them in person and having that contact.

    And speaking of a haircut, thank god I used to cut hair for a living because I can cut my own hair, which I do. Saves me time and money.

    Faaaaaaabulous photographs! I love the misty air!

    Oh, and that baby burro is sooooooooooooooo dang cute! I want one!

    Have a great first day back tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are actually FOUR baby burros, Ron! I think this little guy is the cutest, but they’re all pretty adorable. And friendly, too! The burros in Custer State Park aren’t afraid of people at all, and will let you pet them. And of course, feed them. You know, it would probably be possible to lure that little guy into your car with a proverbial (and literal, in this case) dangling carrot…

      Never mind. The penalty for ass-napping is probably pretty stiff.


  5. I made the husband cut my hair. I was all for it until I found out he was studying up on YouTube (“how to cut curly hair”) and was going to dry-cut it. In the end, though, he did a pretty great job. He also saved me $50 and I didn’t have to tip, so I might just keep him on as my permanent stylist. Plus, no annoying chit-chat.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You live in such a beautiful, magical place with the fog and the cute baby animals.

    Hope you had a good day(s) back in the office. We had a popcorn machine at one of my previous jobs and it was the greatest thing ever. Our mailroom guys were in charge of firing it up at 11am every day and they even bought cute popcorn bags for us. #Memories

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Still no open hair salons around here. Fortunately, (although I wasn’t a fan at the time), my last haircut was pretty short, so I had room to grow. It still hasn’t made it to my 1970s length, but it’s getting close…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm. Do they still make leisure suits? Or bellbottoms?

        Little known fact: bellbottoms are dirt traps. Walk down a dusty path wearing a pair and every step captures a puff of dust and funnels it up your shins. One pair was enough to convince me they were a bad idea.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Bell bottoms did enjoy a renaissance a few years ago, but I think that was short-lived. Probably too many people were getting dirt trapped in there.


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