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On that Fateful Friday: Should We Have Looked Back?

February 13th, 2021 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, did we know what we were leaving behind when we clocked out on that fateful Friday?

It is coming up on 11 months since many of us started our working at home marathon. I remember that Friday when we were told to take our laptops home just in case. Before the weekend was over we all got the call that the decision had been made. We never imagined that it would last this long.

I had to make a trip to the office where I (used to) work this week to have my laptop replaced. I was curious about the drive down Dixie Road through Brampton and into Mississauga.

I thought that after almost a year many changes would have occurred in the retail and industrial areas along that stretch. After all, we live in a time of unrelenting change. But to my surprise, the landscape was entirely unaltered.

I had a similar experience as I sat in my cubicle in the office waiting for my files to be transferred onto my new laptop. My cubicle looked exactly the same as when I left it. Reports I had generated that final Friday were still sitting on my desk. The neat array of file folders on the counter behind me was untouched.

I stood up and took a wider look around. The “On Vacation” banner on my co-worker’s cubicle was still there. Notes and memos pinned to cubicle walls still hung like silent sentinels. The picture on the wall by the window was still slightly askew as I remembered it to be.

We left the office calmly that Friday. But it looked to me now like we had bugged out because a hurricane warning had been received. Yet there were no outward signs that the storm had hit. It felt like the space had been frozen in time the minute I walked out the door. It was very spooky.

Remember the mutant in the X-men movies who could stop time? People were literally frozen in mid-step with expressions locked in the moment. I felt like that mutant for a moment.

I suppose I should not be so surprised. In many ways, life has been put on hold. The pause button was pushed and got stuck in the on position. No small feat at time when change is a charging bull rampaging through the china shop of life.

When my shiny, new laptop was ready, I collected a few personal possessions left behind – a pair of shoes, a notebook, a water bottle and a couple of books – and calmly left. I could not help but wonder how long it would be before I set foot in there again and whether the space would still look eerily unchanged.

The biblical story of Lot and his wife in the book of Genesis comes to mind. Lot was told by visiting angels to flee the coming destruction of Sodom. Flee for your life. Do not look behind you, nor stop anywhere in the Plain; flee to the hills lest you be swept away.

Lot’s wife succumbed to the temptation, looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt.

I wonder now if the morale of that story is to do as we are told and not to look back… or to take one last long look  before turning away from what once was and perhaps never will be quite the same ever again.

Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at www.mdyetmetaphor.com .

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