A Pandemic Counselor’s Advice

Elizabeth Reed
The Haven
Published in
3 min readJun 3, 2021

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Photo by Tonik on Unsplash

“It is not only acceptable to use humor in the face of the pandemic — it may even be a necessity.” Psychology Today

Good morning! I am thrilled that your company has hired me as your Pandemic Social Advisor, here to assist you with the transition to in-person work. If you are experiencing anxiety about this reentry, here are some positive and forward-looking tips.

No awkward greetings

Worried that shaking hands will replace the elbow taps? Move six feet away. Bonus: You won’t have to smell anyone’s cologne or perfume.

Work‌ ‌the‌ ‌mask‌

‌● Draw‌ ‌sympathy‌ ‌through‌ ‌self-deprecation.‌ ‌Tell‌ your colleagues ‌you’re‌ ‌a‌ ‌compulsive‌ ‌hypochondriac‌ ‌and‌ ‌germaphobe.

Claim‌ ‌an‌ ‌immune‌ ‌deficiency.‌ ‌Your‌ manager ‌doesn’t‌ ‌have‌ ‌to‌ ‌know‌ ‌that‌ ‌what‌ ‌your‌ ‌immune‌ ‌system‌ ‌can’t‌ ‌handle‌ ‌is‌ her ‌bad‌ ‌breath.‌

Conceal your grimace of disgust ‌at‌ your loquacious‌ sales supervisor’s hyperbole of his overinflated record at the next sales meeting.

Rethink conversations

● Replace fallback comments such as “Can you hear me?” “You’re still muted!” with new conversation starters such as “Great!” “I’ll get back to you on that.”

● Write this reminder on your palm: MUTE BUTTON IS OFF. Before every comment, make it a habit to brush your hair back and look at your palm to prevent unkindly remarks.

Carry a squishy foam ball in your pocket. Envision the annoying head of whoever is currently provoking your wrath and squeeze the guts out of it. Note: Do not use liquid gel balls.

Personal‌ ‌enhancement‌ ‌made easy

● Postponed‌ ‌your‌ ‌visits‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌electrologist?‌ ‌Your‌ ‌mask‌ ‌will‌ ‌take‌ ‌care‌ ‌of‌ ‌that.‌ ‌

● Can’t‌ ‌muster‌ ‌the‌ ‌energy‌ ‌to‌ ‌open‌ ‌that‌ ‌(probably‌ ‌dried‌ ‌up)‌ ‌mascara‌ ‌tube?‌ ‌Wear‌ ‌wrap-around‌ ‌sunglasses.‌ ‌Tell‌ ‌people‌ ‌you‌ ‌had‌ ‌cataract‌ ‌surgery.‌ ‌

● Still have ‌involuntary‌ ‌gray‌ ‌hair‌ ‌or‌ ‌a‌ ‌mutilated‌ ‌haircut?‌ Enjoy life as a blonde, brunette or whatever color you desire — get a wig.

Practice social (un)engagement

Cursing ‌and‌ ‌muttering‌ ‌derisive‌ ‌comments‌ ‌while‌ ‌muted‌ ‌will,‌ ‌sadly,‌ ‌depart‌ ‌from‌ ‌your‌ ‌world.‌ ‌But‌ ‌you‌ ‌can‌ ‌prepare‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌new‌ ‌afterlife.‌ ‌Start‌ ‌watching‌ ‌‌Newhart‌‌ ‌reruns‌ ‌and‌ ‌take‌ ‌notes‌ ‌on‌ ‌how‌ ‌the‌ ‌inn‌ ‌owner,‌ ‌played‌ ‌by‌ ‌Bob‌ ‌Newhart,‌ ‌reacts‌ ‌to‌ ‌idiocy‌ ‌with‌ ‌his‌ ‌signature‌ ‌calm‌ ‌and‌ ‌unflappable‌ ‌facial‌ ‌expression.

Inviting‌ ‌your‌ work friends over ‌for‌ ‌dinner‌ will have to be postponed ‌until‌ ‌the‌ ‌appliance‌ ‌guy‌ repairs ‌your‌ ‌stove.‌ ‌His‌ ‌waiting‌ ‌list‌ ‌is‌ ‌five‌ ‌months‌ ‌out.‌‌ ‌‌You’ll‌ let them know when it’s fixed — or never.‌

Avoid all undesirable dinner invitations. Show‌ ‌up‌ ‌unwashed‌ ‌and‌ ‌undeodorized‌ ‌in‌ ‌your‌ ‌bleached‌ ‌out,‌ ‌butchered‌ ‌hairdo,‌ ‌stained‌ ‌sweatsuit,‌ ‌and‌ ‌flash‌ ‌your‌ ‌worse,‌ ‌yellow-toothed‌ ‌smile.‌ ‌It’s‌ ‌a‌ ‌guarantee‌ ‌they’ll‌ ‌say‌ ‌they‌ ‌gave‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌office‌ ‌and‌ ‌slam‌ ‌the‌ ‌door‌ ‌on‌ ‌you.‌

Flaunt your new wardrobe

● Replace the disappointment of putting away (or burning) your sweatpants with the joy of no more Spanx.

● Buy comfy elastic-waist ‌pants‌.‌ ‌Walk‌ ‌on‌ ‌your‌ ‌knees‌ ‌inside‌ ‌the‌ ‌house‌ ‌to‌ ‌give‌ ‌your‌ ‌pants‌ ‌a‌ ‌worn‌ ‌appearance, or‌ ‌prepare‌ ‌a‌ ‌1:1‌ ‌ratio‌ ‌of‌ ‌bleach‌ ‌to‌ ‌water‌ ‌solution‌ ‌and‌ ‌brush‌ ‌the‌ ‌kneecaps‌ ‌so‌ ‌that‌ ‌the‌ ‌pants‌ ‌look‌ ‌like‌ ‌you’ve‌ ‌had‌ ‌them‌ ‌forever.‌ ‌

● Purchase‌ neon flowered ‌luau‌ ‌shirts.‌ Retro is ‌in, or buy muumuus with stylish prints of dress pants, shirts and ties. You’ll be the belle of the cubicle.

‌Best of all, continue your three o’clock happy hour! ‌

‌Tell‌ ‌your‌ ‌boss‌ ‌(in a hoarse voice) at said time that you‌ are exhausted (blink a lot and let shoulders sag.) You’re a Covid long-hauler.‌ ‌Go home; put your sweatpants on; throw off the wig and pour‌ ‌yourself‌ ‌a‌ stiff one. Look‌ back ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌absurdity‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ past‌ ‌year.‌ ‌Maybe,‌ ‌just‌ ‌maybe,‌ ‌you’ll‌ ‌be‌ ‌able‌ ‌to‌ ‌laugh‌ ‌about‌ ‌it.‌

Cheers!

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Elizabeth Reed
The Haven

Born in Lisbon. Married to a German. Traveler to unusual places (West Papua) Musician (pianist) Political activist (anti Tangerine Tyrant) Health advocate.