This morning on the news, there was an interview with a small business owner. The news I watch is fairly objective and informative, but they seem to really like doing these random interviews with random people. Usually I see these at the start of lockdowns in different cities around the country.
There was one time they interviewed a celebrant to ask her about how many weddings had to be postponed because of lockdowns. Another interview I saw was with a winery owner who talked about the impact of reduced tourism on his business. The other day they spoke with a bakery worker who was willing to give up his savings in order to help save the business.
In these interviews, the interviewer asks the usual questions about how the people are dealing with the situation, whether they had been able to receive government support, what their outlook for the future is like, and so on. I sort of get the feeling that these are just fluff pieces to break up the dreary headlines.
A thought occurred to me earlier in the week: You can not get rid of disgruntled workers.
This could be taken two ways. The first, perhaps more obvious, is that no matter what employees come and go from a workplace, you will always have disgruntled workers. That is, there will always be people who are unhappy with the work and/or the workplace. It almost seems part of human nature to be constantly discontent at something (well, for some people, anyway).
As a colleague of mine once said, everyone wants the money, but no one wants to do the work. (He was exaggerating and oversimplifying, of course.)
I’ve come to realise that it was a lot easier to get used to wearing masks again than it was to get used to not wearing masks. The last time my city went into lockdown, it was mandatory to wear masks in hospitals and medical centres, as well as in workplaces where it was not possible to “social distance”. Having been through this before, it was easy enough to go back to that routine.
Once the lockdown was over, masks were no longer mandatory. Hardly anyone wore them anymore, but it felt so weird to walk into the building at work not wearing one. I’d approach the glass sliding doors in the morning, and the thought would occur to me that I didn’t have a mask on, and my hand would automatically move to my bag where my mask was kept, and … hold on, is the lockdown really over?
I had to glance around me at other people also not wearing masks to reassure myself that I wasn’t breaking any laws by not wearing a mask.
I just think it’s strange how I got used to it so quickly, and then going back to what I’d been doing for the vast majority of my working life was harder. Such are the times, I guess.
Thermodynamics was not something I expected to think much about after high school, but as I grasped my coffee cup with both hands while going up the stairs at work, I found myself thinking about thermodynamics and the transfer of heat, and about how wonderful it is that these concepts exist and have been explained.
It suddenly got very cold here around the middle of the week. On Wednesday when I left work, my watch told me that it was 18 degrees (Celsius) outside. I was surprised and thought it must be a mistake. But when I got outside, I felt like it was about 10 degrees, the air was so icy cold.
So on Thursday morning, I got a coffee from the cafe a few floors down from my workplace. They have a tendency of making the coffee quite hot (or a friend suggested I might just have a sensitive mouth that cannot handle high temperatures), but that morning I was grateful for the extra hot coffee, as I could allow the heat to warm my cold hands.
As I walked back up the stairs, I thought about the idea of heat energy, and of the movement of molecules caused by this energy. I thought most of all about how heat always goes from a warmer object to a cooler object, and about the concept of specific heat capacity, which explains why different materials absorb or lose heat at different rates.
And I thought about my high school chemistry/physics teacher, and about that semester of learning thermodynamics, and how most teenagers who don’t intend to pursue science or engineering careers probably think it’s all pointless. But how positively wonderful is it to be able to experience these phenomena — like the phenomena of heat transfer — and be able to know why and how it happens?
I remember there was a time in my university days when I had this realisation that I could no longer say “see you tomorrow” as a standard thing when leaving for home. The chance of seeing someone on any given weekday during semester depended on what classes were on, when we were going to have our lunch breaks, and which buildings they would be in during the course of the day.
During uni, I still hung out with several of my high school friends, even if they were studying different courses. During high school, it was just about certain to see each other each day and the next, so it was easy enough to say “see you tomorrow” at the end of any day, Monday to Thursday. Hence the change during uni made an impression on me.
When I was younger, my dad and his siblings ran a restaurant. It wasn’t anything fancy — a step above fast food but not fine dining. When it was busy on week-ends, my sister and I would help out with serving tables, packing delivery orders, and basic kitchen tasks.
The other day, while I was eating lunch at work, a random memory emerged for contemplation. It’s one of those things that seem insignificant, but has nonetheless been locked in my memory for some unknown reason.
This memory was just one particular moment — an instruction I had received. I think it was one of my uncles who said this, but it could have been my auntie. But the source of this wisdom is not exactly as important as the wisdom itself. (I’m sure they all shared the same wisdom anyway.)