Social Isolate: Day 12 of Nonessentialism

Bubble life

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…..

3 thoughts on “Social Isolate: Day 12 of Nonessentialism

  1. Ha! I’ve actually got the opposite. Construction company being a non-essential business, we’ve all been sent home for the next 4 weeks. Except, I don’t actually get time off. I continue working from home. The carpenters get 4 weeks at home on 80% pay without having to work, I get 4 weeks at home on 80% actually HAVING to work. (I am putting in more hours than I log on my timesheet because I feel bad at how slow work is working from home like that.) So I work, but I also feel resentful that I “get” to work.

    So by the end of this 4 week period, I expect to have bags under my eyes. This is hard.

    But, at the same time, I understand I am complaining of an entirely “first world problem”, so a lot of the time I just try to be grateful. Except often I am not, because being holed up in a bedroom whilst using remote access on another computer which keeps crashing, not having an A3 printer and not being allowed to use digital measuring software either because other people need to be able to easily pick up my Excel sheets and just roll with it…

    Ehh. Tomorrow is Monday. I am dreading Monday. Again. 😦

    • Yeah, when I first came home Jeremiah said I had the best gig–80% pay but no work. I think that pay won’t last as long as the shutdown though, at some point the employer is going to go for leave without pay, or letting me go all together. Which maybe isn’t the worst thing either; sometimes a forced change gets me out of a rut that I wouldn’t have moved from otherwise.

      Is Martyn off?

  2. Maybe it would be a good idea not to let the government define your self worth. I think liking work, liking to accomplish something, is part of being made in the image of God, who also likes to work. And if our original work was to tend the garden of Eden, your work is much closer to that than mine, which is to fix bad electrical circuits. And I suspect, although I don’t know for sure, that God likes the ornamental, the aesthetically pleasing. Beautiful sunsets, rainbows, don’t have a lot of functionality, as far as I can tell, but they are created by God. Or consider the planet Venus next to the crescent moon in the dawn. There are probably lots of examples.

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