With Halloween only four days away, our thoughts turn to our ghastly and ghostly traditions, from carved pumpkins to wee children dressed like goblins, monsters and Sen. Ted Cruz. As the tykes prowl the streets with their trick-or-treats, running a door-to-door protection racket, we adults focus on the truly terrifying prospects that lie ahead. To wit …

Returning to Work. Most of us survived our 20 months of solitary confinement and are crawling out of our cubby holes. We are ready to resume, not reZoom, our pre-COVID-19 working lives.

Or are we?

In 2008 I wrote a QuipTide column about the California Telecommuting Act, a law I made up, like so many of my writings. The CTA would simply say that all workers who can adequately perform their jobs from home should not commute, and their employers should aid in the transition. The idea wouldn’t work so well for surgeons, barbers, restaurant personnel and prison guards, among others, but if my fictional law took even one quarter of the cars off the streets we would reduce traffic congestion, road rage and gas consumption.

It sounded like a utopian fantasy, even to me. For 40 years I had commuted to San Francisco, a wonderful destination unless you drive a car. I could only imagine what daily telecommuting would be like. Thirteen years after the CTA column was published, along came COVID-19, and on March 16, 2020, mass telecommuting became real, though certainly not in a utopian way.

Fast forward to today: A poll published by the Harvard Business Review on Aug. 24 concludes that only one in three employees wants to return to the office five days a week. A more ominous conclusion: If forced to return to the office every weekday, 43 percent of those polled would immediately resign or search for a new job. Employers, be careful what you wish for.

(To the reader(s) still in shock from seeing the Harvard Business Review quoted in QuipTide: Blame it on the internet.)

In 2008 I didn’t opine about people returning to five-day commutes. Why would they or their employers want it?

The holidays.

Labor Day starts the holiday season, which ends with New Year’s Day. The holidays pose increasing demands and financial burdens. Labor Day only requires putting out the flag, going to a parade and firing up the barbecue. Halloween’s trickier as well as treatier; there are the big decisions about the costumes, the giveaways and the parties.

Thanksgiving is the first holiday that requires long-distance travel at the worst time of the year to travel. It also poses culinary challenges worthy of an Iron Chef: Is cousin Zelda an ovo-lacto-pseudo vegetarian, a paleo or just allergic to nuts? Then there’s December, with its tree trimming, package wrapping and alcohol excessorizing.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the holidays. The enjoyments far outweigh the hassles.

Let’s hope 2021 will be the last year that we need an epidemiologist to screen our holiday guest lists.

Louie@coastsidenewsgroup.com says, “Happy Holidays!”

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