Working as a journalist during COVID-19 has been a chance to stay connected
Everyone’s life changed during the pandemic, and everyone has a different story about those changes, and how life is different today.
In mid-March of 2020, the Vail Daily’s once-bustling office turned into a ghost town. The office today remains largely empty, with a handful of stalwarts rattling around inside.
Before the pandemic, my own work was mostly in the office or at Vail’s Town Hall, with occasional ventures out for interviews and photos. For the past year, that work has all been done from what was once the “we don’t have a garage, so let’s throw it in there” room in our family’s Gypsum townhome.
There’s plenty of light, and the view out the north-facing window provides a view of the world going by on Interstate 70. We’re also among the first to know when the folks at the Gypsum Shooting Sports Park trot out a cannon, or a machine gun.
When the Grizzly Creek Fire raged in Glenwood Canyon, that view got eerie during the summer’s two-week closure of Interstate 70. It was delightfully quiet on the back deck, and a quick story came when a nitwit truck driver decided to sneak through the roadblocks at the Gypsum interchange, only to be stopped, and presumably issued an expensive ticket, just a mile into his misbegotten journey.
Life in Isolation Station Gypsum could be far, far worse, but it’s a strange way to live and work. My very, very patient wife is here, a Godsend. Our daughter, 22, also lived with us for the year, not the sort of post-college life-launch she expected.
Our daughter is now working full-time and living in Vail (good for her), and the missus works — carefully — outside the home, but I can’t imagine life without someone else here. Those who live alone are getting a bit bored and brittle — as a longtime friend acknowledged in a recent phone conversation.
Our phones have become a lifeline for many of us, and for those of a certain age, voice calls reign supreme. Conversations with sources tend to last a bit longer than they once did. There’s quite a lot more chit-chat, a chance to talk to people while working from a home office occupied during the day by a reporter and a cat.
I’ve jumped at the rare opportunities for in-person meetings — done at appropriate social distances, of course, and the handful of opportunities for meeting the work crew and, occasionally, family members, has been pretty joyful occasions.
But the work has been a chance to stay connected with the world. I hope we’ve been able to provide some of those connections for our readers. There’s always a story to tell, and not all are grim, although being down less than initially predicted in lodging days, or sales tax collections or other business indicators are strange definitions of “good.”
As we start to see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel — which, with luck and work, won’t be an oncoming train — which changes might stick? It’s hard to imagine returning to the office full-time. Summer will be different, because it’s fun to ride a motorcycle to work and back.
Wait and see seems to be the case with much of the world these days, but it’s easy to see the day, and it will come, when working from home becomes an option, when handshakes and hugs replace fist bumps and elbow taps, and when we can linger at a restaurant instead of dash in for a take-out order.
That day will be joyous, and our stories will change as our lives move away from isolation and toward again gathering without worrying about masks and disinfectant wipes. And we look forward to telling those stories.