COVID-19 was Only One of Many Distractions

How I wish for a workplace free of distractions! On March 12, 2020, when the U.S.A. was still a relatively “normal” place, Magnus conducted a relatively large series of mock trials for a client. Conducting mock jury research requires many days of report writing for me, which necessitates highly concentrated efforts and high level thought processing. (Translation: QUIET! PLEASE!) On the morning of Monday, March 16, after things in the world had taken a turn for the worse, I arrived at my office with a lot of work to do, primarily, in writing the client’s report. Not only was everyone distracted by the impending doom and gloom of the COVID-19 pandemic, but my office was embroiled in several other minor crises, none of which had anything to do with the evil virus. I will list these other minor crises: (1) my computer had broken, a new computer arrived at the office, and despite being told to get my new computer up and running anyplace except in my office, Magnus’ computer technician had disassembled both my old and new computers prior to my arrival, with bits and pieces of them littering the conference table outside my office door; (2) there was a road construction crew that began what appears to be a lengthy project just outside Magnus’ office, blocking our driveway, jack hammering loud enough to rattle the building and my teeth, and in general, wreaking havoc on us in every possible way; (3) the road construction crew broke our water line, resulting in, your guessed it, our inability to use the restroom in our office for the entire workday, and forcing us to walk through the construction site to find a working restroom in another part of the complex where our business is located; and (4) coincidentally, I was suffering from an upset stomach and therefore, I was particularly inconvenienced by the excess noise, the computer tech’s incompetence, and of course, the unavailability of restroom facilities. What a day! The only saving grace were my closed door and my trusty noise cancelling headphones, which I wore all day and continue to wear while the road crew operates their heavy equipment within a stone’s throw of my window. But, in the end, I wrote the clients’ report, sent it out before the deadline on which it was due, and received accolades from the clients regarding another excellent job on their behalf. It was just “one of those days” in the life of this trial consultant.

It often amazes me how much work Melissa and I have to do that has nothing to do with being a trial consultant, things which are not productive, and don’t create any revenue.  On this fateful Monday, I found myself seeking out the property manager to report the plumbing problem, then working with him to find out if it was in our whole, small, building.  Then, I had to find the work crew and asking about what they were doing, then wait for on the supervisor (the only one who spoke English) in order to learn the problem did involve a broken water line.  Then, I had to wait for a plumber.  Then, I returned to the office to try to actually work!  A day or so later, another plumber had to come to our rescue to deal with a clogged drain line,  again related to the road construction gas line repairs and electrical line/pole strengthening being done prior to hurricane season.  There is noise from 2 to 4 construction/repair crews – for weeks!  And, this was on top of what we were learning about COVID-19, being updated on a daily basis about being in contact with others.  Obviously, some of these other people were critically important to us – the plumbers particularly!  Talk about essential services…  At the end of each day, my head was spinning from the noise, from the interruptions, and from the impending doom.  The fact that the work got done as efficiently as it did was amazing!  But, that was a little bit due to the fact that the world had hit the pause button and we could not prepare for the next project which was scheduled shortly thereafter, nor could we make a long planned important business trip.  So we were here, battling forces well beyond the invisible germ that has invaded the world.  Melissa was able, thanks to Dr. Bose, and to closing her door and window blinds, to be able to focus on her tasks at hand.  I felt like I was bouncing around from thing to thing, including asking the electric and road crews to not use our parking lot as a staging operation for all of their equipment – with the running engines and generators staying on all of the time!  It was too much at times!  It would have been too much in “normal” times – whatever those were.   We’re pretty good at making the show go on – but some times it is more difficult than others!

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