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Coffee with Mimi: Laugh at awkward occurrences resulting from social distancing and cyber living

BY MIMI BECKER

Community Columnist

We watch TV, movies, videos, read the newspapers and follow social media.  We develop favorites among TV personalities, movie stars and such. They come into our living rooms on a screen or on our small hand held devices or as little photos in a print article. Through the years we may witness them grow older, change their hair styles, gain or lose weight. Often we see them on the White House lawn or on a battlefield or in front of a studio set.

Now, we get a glimpse of their personal lives as they make their daily reports.

Just like many of us, they are working from home.  

I am intrigued by the view behind them and around them as much as their words.

I wonder, is it the rule that they are situated in front of a wall of bookshelves to report the latest numbers and events of this current crisis? 

There are a couple regulars on during one period of the day that I like to watch. I’ve been trying to pick out the titles of the books behind them. Do they favor history, commentary, fiction? Are there selections possibly left over from favorite college classes. You know the ones you think you will always want to have on hand as reference, but then never look at again?

Our detective instincts kick in and we deduce they definitely have young children. Besides the little voices we hear off mic, there are signs of the presence of small humans in the house in some book titles. Strain as I might, I can’t get close enough to identify the persons in framed photos arranged among the volumes. I’m sure that is their intent. It’s one thing to allow world wide camera attention focused on a well known personality in their own personal space, but quite another to invite the public into the lives of their little children.

My curiosity is piqued with some of the knick-knacky items scattered among the books. Some appear to be awards, which is a distinct possibility considering the level of expertise many of the commentators have achieved in their respective fields. Other odd pieces may be just the kind of memorabilia anyone collects over a career and life and can’t bear to part with.

One day, at some time in the future, all this will return to normal. We will watch and listen to the reporters on the green grass of the White House yard or the sandy terrain of some foreign trouble spot. I will be happy for them and us as it means we are in a better time and place in our history.

But, for a bit, it is comforting to peek inside the worlds of people we usually see in a narrow space. Haven’t seen any neckties, elaborately draped shawl scarves or networked coordinated outerwear in a while.      

They look just like the rest of us sitting in front of our home office set up.

Well, maybe not just like the rest of us.

If social media posts can be taken as evidence, many of us are working in business casual attire. Be honest. How many of you have been at it wearing no shoes? Is your laptop arranged on an improvised desk space perhaps in the kitchen or actually on your lap? Not being judgemental, but are you wearing your pajamas?   

How often have you interrupted your tasks to take the dog out, get a glass of water, roam through the pantry shelves for a snack? Are you multitasking the laundry and emptying the dishwasher between paragraphs of a report?

How many pets are vying for control of your keyboard with you until you finally give up and put the little rascal in another room with a closed door between you? 

I am not a good stay at home worker. Tasks which should take an hour, end up occupying the better part of an afternoon. I had an employee once who asked if I was on a medication often prescribed for folks with an attention disorder. In self-defense, I eventually finish the one at hand, but just maybe not on the aforementioned timeline. I used to tell my students, “I digress.”  Eventually I got there, though by way of a detour. 

I recently burned the pancakes at my daughter’s home (before we were asked not to travel). I apologized. She said it was OK, they grew up on burned pancakes. It seems I thought I could always squeeze in a little task between flips.

This thing needs to be over sooner rather than later for all the life altering reasons. We all want to know our friends and family are healthy and our children have a smarter world to grow up in. We all pray we are going to look back on this with memories and stories of our resilience and pride, more than sadness.

But, in the meantime, we take the twists and turns life has presented us in stride. We just must laugh a little at some of the awkward occurrences resulting from social distancing and cyber living.