Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Duration: A Week at the Office

 

At the start of the week I made a resolution: I would get up every day, put on a shirt with a collar, choose a good tie, step into shined shoes, and go to the office.

Previously I went downtown once a week to walk around and take the civic temperature, look at the construction projects, document the empty core. But this week I decided I would go to my desk, and sit there, and work. So I did.

The tie probably looked absurd, like an affectation, a sign of a bygone era – what’s next, bud, a straw boater? But you stand up straighter when you wear a tie. You feel put together. And you’ve always the option of loosening it with an aggravated growl if things get bad. What do people who wear nothing but sweatshirts do to indicate that they’re serious and ragged and ready to cut through the nonsense and get that damned Peter Parker to get some pictures of that damned Spider-Man menace, already?

The Last-Man-on-Earth vibe is strong downtown . . . 

. . . except for the workers in bright safety vests working on all the things that need fixing or building. There was fresh landscaping around the building across the street, waiting for someone to admire it. There were new signs in the skyway telling us to cough into our elbow crook, and stay home if sick – hey thanks, never heard any of that. 

The first day back at my desk was strange. The fourth felt absolutely normal. Except that the office was completely empty.

Well, almost; there’s one other writer who decided to do go back, and a few others drift in. “There’s no one here!” growled our famously cantankerous sportswriter when I saw him last week. “It’s the safest place in town!” 

But today I was all alone. The newsroom is a large place. It has many wings, several floors. The lights are on, the monitors are all running – people were supposed to leave their PCs on for remote access. All of the big news monitors and displays of web traffic and story-trending were dark; a monitor by the door played congrats to the people who had service anniversaries in March. The big board where the month’s feature stories are planned was likewise stuck on March. I felt, again, like Charlton Heston in post-plague Los Angeles, looking at a calendar from long ago.

Except Chuck didn’t have access to fresh pizza. I did. The pizza joint in the skyway was open. It never closed. On a normal day they had 25 huge pizzas in every possible combination ready for the lunch crowd – maybe ten pies today, but it was hot and fresh. I had lunch at my desk, using a knife and fork I’d brought from home. Man, it was delicious. Then I filed a column, thinking: if there wasn’t any newspaper – if there wasn’t anyone else – I would still do this, for a while. But then I’d stop.

Had a call with some new Ricochet advertisers. You’ll love them! I discussed the new products while wandering around the empty office, ending up in the big conference room where the top editors assemble the paper, sitting in the big chair at the end of the long table, feeling like the pirate in the Tom Hanks movie. I am the editor now. 

While I was on the call I got a notification from my phone: my parking meter was about to expire. Another routine from the Before Times. I fired up the app and added some time. When I’d done that on Monday, it had felt like an echo of a previous life; now it was routine. Again.

Left the office at the usual time, and walked past the great globe in the lobby. It’s a relic from our old building, restored. It revolves at the same pace as the Earth itself. When the Wuhan Virus slammed down they turned it off, and it’s been stuck in the same damned place ever since.

It will be plugged in again, soon. And the globe will turn. 

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  1. Annefy Member

    JY’s life at the factory hasn’t missed a beat. He went in the day after Garcetti shut LA down to find out factories of all sorts were all deemed essential (and don’t think he hasn’t reminded us often. He’s essential!) He called all his suppliers across the country and there was someone to answer every call.

    He has suffered a grueling commute for 30 years and these past weeks he has thoroughly enjoyed the lighter traffic. Bear in mind he still looks back on the LA riots as halcyon days; everyone was busy destroying the city and no one was on the freeway.

    He began to notice heavier traffic a couple of weeks ago, right around the time several employees figured out they could make more on unemployment. Desperate times call for desperate measures; he’s hired son #2 to return to the factory. While son #2 is kept busy, we suspect he got the job so JY could avail himself of the carpool lane.

    And yesterday, late afternoon, it happened. He had to hit the brakes going through LA. “The party is over”, he lamented upon his return home.

    Just one funny (not ha ha funny) story. They got a visit from a couple of LAPD’s finest and a representative of the DWP a week after the shutdown. DWP rep was there to cut off all power if needed. It appears there was confusion as to what is done at the factory. The name of the company is MK Diamond, and it was assumed they were in the jewelry business. A tour of the factory convinced the cops and the power rep that, in fact, MK Diamond manufactures construction equipment (including diamond blades; hence the name) and the power could remain on.

    Three people spent several hours figuring out something that could have been determined in a simple google search.

    • #1
    • May 15, 2020, at 12:31 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  2. Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Coolidge
    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Annefy (View Comment):
    Three people spent several hours figuring out something that could have been determined in a simple google search.

    Everybody lies on the Internet. Google especially.

    • #2
    • May 15, 2020, at 12:55 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Arahant Member

    As a writer, I may be totally non-essential, but my routine hasn’t altered. I work from home. Who can stop me from working?

    • #3
    • May 15, 2020, at 12:58 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  4. Arahant Member

    James Lileks: The tie probably looked absurd, like an affectation, a sign of a bygone era – what’s next, bud, a straw boater? But you stand up straighter when you wear a tie. You feel put together. And you’ve always the option of loosening it with an aggravated growl if things get bad. What do people who wear nothing but sweatshirts do to indicate that they’re serious and ragged and ready to cut through the nonsense and get that damned Peter Parker to get some pictures of that damned Spider-Man menace, already?

    And people make fun of me for wearing white tie and tails to work every day.

    • #4
    • May 15, 2020, at 12:59 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  5. Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Coolidge
    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    As a writer, I may be totally non-essential, but my routine hasn’t altered. I work from home. Who can stop me from working?

    The power company.

    • #5
    • May 15, 2020, at 1:00 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):
    And people make fun of me for wearing white tie and tails to work every day.

    And the cut-offs. And the flip-flops.

    • #6
    • May 15, 2020, at 1:24 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  7. Arahant Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):
    And people make fun of me for wearing white tie and tails to work every day.

    And the cut-offs. And the flip-flops.

    With the tail-coat up top, one gets rather hot.

    • #7
    • May 15, 2020, at 1:46 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Arahant Member

    Sisyphus (Rolling Stone) (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    As a writer, I may be totally non-essential, but my routine hasn’t altered. I work from home. Who can stop me from working?

    The power company.

    No, they would have to cut off residential service to do so. That would bring on a fun lawsuit.

    • #8
    • May 15, 2020, at 1:47 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. Stad Thatcher

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Just one funny (not ha ha funny) story. They got a visit from a couple of LAPD’s finest and a representative of the DWP a week after the shutdown. DWP rep was there to cut off all power if needed. It appears there was confusion as to what is done at the factory. The name of the company is MK Diamond, and it was assumed they were in the jewelry business. A tour of the factory convinced the cops and the power rep that, in fact, MK Diamond manufactures construction equipment (including diamond blades; hence the name) and the power could remain on.

    Three people spent several hours figuring out something that could have been determined in a simple google search.

    I tell you, this is Soviet Union stuff.

    • #9
    • May 15, 2020, at 4:43 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  10. Stad Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):

    James Lileks: The tie probably looked absurd, like an affectation, a sign of a bygone era – what’s next, bud, a straw boater? But you stand up straighter when you wear a tie. You feel put together. And you’ve always the option of loosening it with an aggravated growl if things get bad. What do people who wear nothing but sweatshirts do to indicate that they’re serious and ragged and ready to cut through the nonsense and get that damned Peter Parker to get some pictures of that damned Spider-Man menace, already?

    And people make fun of me for wearing white tie and tails to work every day.

    I wear gym shorts and a tee shirt around the house. When I put on a clean tee? That’s what I call going formal . . .

    • #10
    • May 15, 2020, at 4:45 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  11. Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Coolidge
    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Sisyphus (Rolling Stone) (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    As a writer, I may be totally non-essential, but my routine hasn’t altered. I work from home. Who can stop me from working?

    The power company.

    No, they would have to cut off residential service to do so. That would bring on a fun lawsuit.

    Repairing the line sir, nothing for it. Bwahahaha!

    • #11
    • May 15, 2020, at 5:06 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  12. EHerring Coolidge

    Four of us older adults, two black belts, a brown belt, and me, have returned to the dojo, for exercise Monday evenings, no contact, each with his own space. A return to normalcy and a little exercise is essential to one’s health and sanity. 

    One black belt gets up every day and dresses for work even though he is working from home. He has anecdotal stories of younger people having a drop in productivity. Seems they find it harder to be disciplined at home. I heard of a poll that found many want to continue working at home. I bet that is one reason so many oppose opening up. I also predict over time many younger folks will become less productive working at home, unable to avoid distractions.

    Staying at home has meant more work for me homeschooling grandchildren. The other grandparents have them in the AM and we get them after lunch. My daughter must still go to her workplace, as an essential person. My son-in-law can work at home but would get little work done if he had to teach the daily assignments we get from the kids’ teachers. I know. My bushes on three sides of the house have yet to be trimmed. Housework that isn’t done before they arrive must wait until they are picked up at the end on the day.

    • #12
    • May 15, 2020, at 5:44 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  13. Full Size Tabby Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):

    Just one funny (not ha ha funny) story. They got a visit from a couple of LAPD’s finest and a representative of the DWP a week after the shutdown. DWP rep was there to cut off all power if needed. It appears there was confusion as to what is done at the factory. The name of the company is MK Diamond, and it was assumed they were in the jewelry business. A tour of the factory convinced the cops and the power rep that, in fact, MK Diamond manufactures construction equipment (including diamond blades; hence the name) and the power could remain on.

    Three people spent several hours figuring out something that could have been determined in a simple google search.

    I tell you, this is Soviet Union stuff.

    Yes. I hope @annefy keeps this story to bring up when people are tempted to allow government to run our lives on a permanent basis the way they are trying to run it today. 

    • #13
    • May 15, 2020, at 6:17 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Full Size Tabby Member

    James Lileks:

    Left the office at the usual time, and walked past the great globe in the lobby. It’s a relic from our old building, restored. It revolves at the same pace as the Earth itself. When the Wuhan Virus slammed down they turned it off, and it’s been stuck in the same damned place ever since.

    Nice that the globe stopped with China facing outward to remind everyone who sees it why we have the current mess. 

    • #14
    • May 15, 2020, at 6:18 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  15. Suspira Member

    EHerring (View Comment):
    He has anecdotal stories of younger people having a drop in productivity. Seems they find it harder to be disciplined at home.

    I guess I’m younger than my years, as I find it hard to be disciplined at home, too. Is there such a thing as Senior ADD?

    • #15
    • May 15, 2020, at 6:21 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  16. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    James Lileks:

    it’s been stuck in the same damned place ever since.

    It will be plugged in again, soon. And the globe will turn. 

    Make sure they get the time zone right.

    • #16
    • May 15, 2020, at 6:24 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. Full Size Tabby Member

    James Lileks: The tie probably looked absurd, like an affectation, a sign of a bygone era – what’s next, bud, a straw boater? But you stand up straighter when you wear a tie. You feel put together.

    I always wore a tie (and the polished shoes) to the office until I was pushed into retirement two years ago. I and one of my colleagues were the last of the 1200 employees in the building to wear a tie.

    The tie told my brain that I was at work, not at a recreational or social activity.

    My tie-wearing colleague considered wearing dressy clothes a privilege – a sign that he had risen in the social and economic ranks to a “professional” job, and was not, like his ancestors, shoveling coal or dirt, or lifting heavy objects, or other manual labor. 

    When outside the building I wore a fedora (wool in cooler temperatures and straw in warmer temperatures), and in winter, a dressy long wool overcoat. Yes, I felt put together!

    • #17
    • May 15, 2020, at 6:30 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  18. Front Seat Cat Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    James Lileks: The tie probably looked absurd, like an affectation, a sign of a bygone era – what’s next, bud, a straw boater? But you stand up straighter when you wear a tie. You feel put together.

    I always wore a tie (and the polished shoes) to the office until I was pushed into retirement two years ago. I and one of my colleagues were the last of the 1200 employees in the building to wear a tie.

    The tie told my brain that I was at work, not at a recreational or social activity.

    My tie-wearing colleague considered wearing dressy clothes a privilege – a sign that he had risen in the social and economic ranks to a “professional” job, and was not, like his ancestors, shoveling coal or dirt, or lifting heavy objects, or other manual labor.

    When outside the building I wore a fedora (wool in cooler temperatures and straw in warmer temperatures), and in winter, a dressy long wool overcoat. Yes, I felt put together!

    I used to work at a beach property rental company (that I hated) and one of my co-workers stood out from the rest. He always looked……spiffy? The job called for office casual (no shorts or flip flops – well, ok if they were leather….), but this guy showed up in khakis with “cuffs”, white linen shirt, leather jacket when it was chilly two days out of the year, and …..wing tips. The wing tips were brown, tan and white and to this day, I still remember the guy by his outfits – not his name.

    One day, I told him he always was dressed so nice, and I learned that his clothes came from J. Peterman. He was also an actor – this beach rental job paid the bills. He was part of a play group apparently. I remembered the J. Peterman store in Massachusetts where my husband got the best made winter plaid jacket you ever saw with zip out lining, and still has it for the two cold days here in FL. So that explained it. I ordered a J. Peterman catalog just to read the awesome stories that go with each item. https://www.jpeterman.com/

    Here’s the blog in case you’re stuck working from home (which is not a bad thing) and need a virtual adventure:

    http://petermanseye.jpeterman.com/

    Come to think of it, the saying the clothes make the man could really be true. Some of these baggy pants dudes with the underwear hanging out, caps on backwards and fifty tattoos and body piercings might learn something.

    • #18
    • May 15, 2020, at 7:03 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  19. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    It will be plugged in again, soon. And the globe will turn.

    JamesL,

    Damn right.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #19
    • May 15, 2020, at 7:04 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Love the globe.

    • #20
    • May 15, 2020, at 7:11 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Richard Fulmer Member

    Sisyphus (Rolling Stone) (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):
    Three people spent several hours figuring out something that could have been determined in a simple google search.

    Everybody lies on the Internet. Google especially.

    Wait, if that’s true, then you’re lying. But if you’re lying … 

    • #21
    • May 15, 2020, at 7:27 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  22. Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Coolidge
    Sisyphus (hears Xi laughing) Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Richard Fulmer (View Comment):

    Sisyphus (Rolling Stone) (View Comment):

    Annefy (View Comment):
    Three people spent several hours figuring out something that could have been determined in a simple google search.

    Everybody lies on the Internet. Google especially.

    Wait, if that’s true, then you’re lying. But if you’re lying …

    Then my name is Mudd. 

    • #22
    • May 15, 2020, at 7:39 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. Buckpasser Member
    Buckpasser Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    At the corporate office it went from coat and tie to “business casual” (Dress slacks and collared shirts-no tie) to “business ultra casual”-dress slacks and polo shirts to Friday casual everyday (even the VP’s wore jeans). I could never bring myself to wear jeans at the office.

    • #23
    • May 15, 2020, at 7:49 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  24. PJ Coolidge
    PJ Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Whoa, whoa, whoa . . . is nobody going to mention that apparently James Lileks eats pizza with a knife and fork?!?!?

    James Lileks:

    Except Chuck didn’t have access to fresh pizza. I did. The pizza joint in the skyway was open. It never closed. On a normal day they had 25 huge pizzas in every possible combination ready for the lunch crowd – maybe ten pies today, but it was hot and fresh. I had lunch at my desk, using a knife and fork I’d brought from home. Man, it was delicious. Then I filed a column, thinking: if there wasn’t any newspaper – if there wasn’t anyone else – I would still do this, for a while. But then I’d stop.

     

     

    • #24
    • May 15, 2020, at 7:56 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  25. Judge Mental Member

    PJ (View Comment):

    Whoa, whoa, whoa . . . is nobody going to mention that apparently James Lileks eats pizza with a knife and fork?!?!?

    James Lileks:

    Except Chuck didn’t have access to fresh pizza. I did. The pizza joint in the skyway was open. It never closed. On a normal day they had 25 huge pizzas in every possible combination ready for the lunch crowd – maybe ten pies today, but it was hot and fresh. I had lunch at my desk, using a knife and fork I’d brought from home. Man, it was delicious. Then I filed a column, thinking: if there wasn’t any newspaper – if there wasn’t anyone else – I would still do this, for a while. But then I’d stop.

     

     

    There go his presidential ambitions.

    • #25
    • May 15, 2020, at 8:02 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. EHerring Coolidge

    James Gawron (View Comment):

    It will be plugged in again, soon. And the globe will turn.

    JamesL,

    Damn right.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Great movie

    • #26
    • May 15, 2020, at 8:02 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. Postmodern Hoplite Member

    James Lileks: The tie probably looked absurd, like an affectation, a sign of a bygone era – what’s next, bud, a straw boater? But you stand up straighter when you wear a tie. You feel put together. And you’ve always the option of loosening it with an aggravated growl if things get bad.

    I found this to be true as well – for every one of my Zoom class sessions, I continued to dress appropriately (tie and sport coat). I wanted my students to see that I continued to respect them and the subject I teach with no less respect than before. What they didn’t see was that I also wore the appropriate matching pants and shoes, even though no one would see me below the waist. (If you are going to be dressed, be dressed. If not, don’t pretend.)

    Oddly enough, I have discovered a way of wearing a neck-tie that reflects the practicality of the bow-tie with the conventions of a four-in-hand long tie (fashionable, but silly, if we’re honest with ourselves…) I now wear my long ties tucked into the front of the shirt, military-style. It was part of the uniform back in my Cadet days (NMMI 1981 to 1983), and I’ve rediscovered it. 

    And when I wear it this way, I DO feel “put together,” stand a bit straighter, silently affirming to myself that, “Yes, I choose to make this admittedly silly fashion more practical, and not by just abandoning it altogether to look like a slob with an un-buttoned shirt in a suit.”

    • #27
    • May 15, 2020, at 8:08 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  28. Arahant Member

    PJ (View Comment):

    Whoa, whoa, whoa . . . is nobody going to mention that apparently James Lileks eats pizza with a knife and fork?!?!?

    James Lileks:

    Except Chuck didn’t have access to fresh pizza. I did. The pizza joint in the skyway was open. It never closed. On a normal day they had 25 huge pizzas in every possible combination ready for the lunch crowd – maybe ten pies today, but it was hot and fresh. I had lunch at my desk, using a knife and fork I’d brought from home. Man, it was delicious. Then I filed a column, thinking: if there wasn’t any newspaper – if there wasn’t anyone else – I would still do this, for a while. But then I’d stop.

    Not this ridiculous silliness again. James is a civilized man, not a barbarian stuffing food into his mouth with his bare fingers.

    • #28
    • May 15, 2020, at 8:11 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  29. Judge Mental Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    PJ (View Comment):

    Whoa, whoa, whoa . . . is nobody going to mention that apparently James Lileks eats pizza with a knife and fork?!?!?

    James Lileks:

    Except Chuck didn’t have access to fresh pizza. I did. The pizza joint in the skyway was open. It never closed. On a normal day they had 25 huge pizzas in every possible combination ready for the lunch crowd – maybe ten pies today, but it was hot and fresh. I had lunch at my desk, using a knife and fork I’d brought from home. Man, it was delicious. Then I filed a column, thinking: if there wasn’t any newspaper – if there wasn’t anyone else – I would still do this, for a while. But then I’d stop.

    Not this ridiculous silliness again. James is a civilized man, not a barbarian stuffing food into his mouth with his bare fingers.

    If we’re going to do it again, let’s at least save us all some typing by using the abbreviations we came up with last time.

    “a civilized man, not a barbarian stuffing food into his mouth with his bare fingers” – Fancy-pants.

    • #29
    • May 15, 2020, at 8:15 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  30. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):
    (If you are going to be dressed, be dressed. If not, don’t pretend.)

    Unlike that reporter caught sans pantalon (on GMA?) a week or so ago.

    • #30
    • May 15, 2020, at 8:20 AM PDT
    • 3 likes