You are an engineer at Big Tech Co.
It is March 2020 and The Company has just sent you to work from home. You live in California with two other engineers. Each of you makes multiple six figures but can’t afford your own apartment.
You wonder if you will survive.
“We’ll be back in two weeks” says your roommate. You have never met him since he is always out of the apartment.
Your other roommate is busy watching anime. You have never met him because he is always in his room.
You do not feel optimistic. You struggle to fall asleep. Maybe things will be better tomorrow.
You log into your first remote meeting. Your manager pretends that everything is fine. No one believes him.
Your roommate interrupts you by taking work meetings in the living room. You had also set up your workspace in the living room. You ask him to do meetings somewhere else. He gives a lame excuse. You sigh and turn up the noise cancellation on your headphones to max. It doesn’t work very well.
You worry about your parents. You worry about your grandparents. This accomplishes nothing and you know it. You continue worrying anyway.
You turn off your work computer. You finally have time to watch Netflix and play video games.
You feel anxious. There’s a lot of work to do, but not for you—your job is not important enough. Your team does not directly generate revenue anyway.
You read the news. Things are happening and you do not know why.
Another online meeting. You discover your co-worker loves remote work. He lives in a large house with his wife, kids and two dogs. You are jealous.
You feel anxious again. You drink some coffee. You feel even more anxious. You know you shouldn’t drink so much caffeine, but you’ve always had a coffee break at the office, and now’s not the time to break routines.
You feel tired. This is strange because you’ve done nothing today. You do not understand.
You worry that you will be laid off. Your manager tries to lift the team’s spirits with a fun online activity. Everyone pretends to have a good time. No one believes it.
Your friends try hosting some virtual events. They are OK. You miss your friends.
It is 3:00 AM. You hear your weeabo roommate shouting at his monitor. You knock on his door and politely ask him to keep his voice down—he nods and smiles sheepishly. The next night, you repeat the ritual like clockwork.
You hear about some more news. Even more things are happening and you still do not know why. You delete Twitter from your phone. You know even less.
You need a hug. You cannot get one because hugs are illegal right now.
Your director congratulates the team on all the hard work they’ve been doing by giving out $1000 bonuses to everyone. You have written 10 lines of code in the last week. You feel you do not deserve it.
Your weeabo roommate makes ramen for dinner for the fourth time this week. “Maybe we can try a new recipe next time?” You suggest. Your roommate gives a lame excuse. You sigh and eat another bowl of the same ramen.
You hear about protests. You want to help. You try to learn. Still, you do not understand.
You do not sleep well. You wake up and feel more exhausted. Every day feels like a new level of hell. You tell no one. Someone on a work call asks if you’re OK. You say, “I’m fine.” They do not believe you.
You and your non-weeabo roommate have a drink together. He makes cocktails with extra gin. Suddenly, the bottle is empty. You do not remember how this happened.
Your friend cajoles you into playing Among Us. It turns out to be a lot of fun. You log 15 hours in one week.
There are wildfires outside. The sky turns orange. You are not surprised. Nothing can surprise you anymore.
You have a new project at work related to the director’s grand vision. You wish you had a whiteboard.
Your weeabo roommate talks enthusiastically about v-tubers. He tips hundreds of dollars to these virtual anime characters every month. You think this is unhealthy but you say nothing. Somehow, you have not seen your other roommate in weeks.
Suddenly, you feel bored of Netflix and video games.
It is dark outside.
Your eyes are tired. After you do work on a computer, you look at a different computer screen for fun. This is probably why. You realize this but do not change anything.
You do not have a romantic partner. You used to have one. You think about that. That was at the beginning of the pandemic. You try to remember when that was. Time is an illusion now.
At dinner, you suggest doing an activity with your roommates. They both say no. They are too busy, and you do not understand. You nod as if you did. Somehow, you are also incredibly busy despite having infinite time on your hands.
You are promoted. You are unsure how this happened.
“How are you?” Your new manager asks on a video call. “I’m fine,” you say, but you are not fine. She does not believe you but does not say anything.
Somehow, it has been one year since the pandemic started. You are still anxious, but in a different way.
Someone tells you that you will be eligible for a vaccine soon. You are excited to receive it. You check eight different websites every day, looking for appointment slots. The anticipation builds every hour. You cannot wait any longer.
Finally, the magic day arrives and you are eligible to book an appointment! You wait for another 12 days and 7 more hours. When you arrive at the clinic, you are excited and confident, as if ready to meet your destiny, incredibly grateful to all the nurses and scientists that helped get you there. You feel the momentousness of the day with every step. You are charged with power. You will defeat the virus and everything will return to normal.
And then… getting the shot takes mere seconds. You thank the nurse and sit for 15 minutes in the waiting area.
“Coronavirus is over,” you triumphantly declare as you arrive back at your apartment. Though you know this is a lie, you believe it, because you have no intention of living through another unprecedented time like this.
After all, you are still an engineer at Big Tech Co.