New Zealand is at an Alert Level 4, which means, among other things, that “businesses are closed except for essential services (supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics and lifeline utilities).” “Nonessential” businesses must close, unless they can operate completely without people interacting.
The day the government made the level 4 announcement was a confusing whirlwind of businesses trying to position themselves as “essential” so they could keep going during the lock down. The Warehouse announced they were essential because they supply people with all the leftover containers and toasters and socks that they need for modern life….liquor stores were essential because they sold “food.” But the government soon put a kabosh on most of those shenanigans.
Zealandia, being involved in food production, could continue with commercial veg transplant production during the lock down, but no pansy seeding, and no philodendron transplanting. Ornamentals aren’t essential, while food is. I spent my last day at work making up big containers of surface sterilizer (H2O2), and writing instructions to staff on how we must now operate in order to avoid virus transmission….and pass our MPI inspection.
I walked past my boss’s window to clock out on March 25th, and he waved me over. “Stay home tomorrow,” he said.
Bugger. Zealandia might be essential, but I’m nonessential.
I’ve come to hate that word.
It means that my efforts, my skills, and my intelligence are nonessential. Not needed….unimportant….. More ornamental than nutritional.
That’s a deflating realization.
…particularly when Jeremiah’s work, bridge design, is classed as an “Essential Service,” and Monday – Friday 7:30-5:30 he disappears into the bedroom to maintain his career. This past week that work has involved a surprising number of light-hearted teleconference conversations, trivia quizzes, and remotely conducted social hours replete with beersies. To be honest, it has also involved hard conversations about pay cuts and (I’m sure) many hours of actual work. But still, I’m jealous. Non-essential and jealous. In comparison, next week I’ll continue to do nonessential tasks around the house….wipe pee off the toilet seat, bake cinnamon rolls, restrict the kids’ screen time, vainly try to make Milo into a kinder person.
It probably niggles because it gets down to the thorny question of “what’s my purpose in life?” I don’t want to be ornamental. It’s a big existential question which I haven’t answered for myself, clearly, or I’d be happier cooling my heals at home…..provided whatever purpose I chose can be lived out without actually doing anything…..