Week 12. That’s how long it’s been for most folks in lockdown. We have seen it all – the good, bad, ugly, funny, ludicrous, terrified, foodie, depressed, optimistic and goal-oriented sides of life.
Like most people, I have made the most of this time – baking, gardening, reading, exercising and probably my most indulged habit of binge-watching crime and political TV series filled with suspense, treachery and mind-boggling plot twists. In most of these series, the law enforcement and intelligence agencies meander their way through the plot to unravel the crimes, so that they can prevent or solve them. One common point of departure for all of them is identifying Persons of Interest.
Strangely, there is no legal meaning for the term “Person of Interest”. It is used loosely to describe people who may be involved, have knowledge of, or are closely connected enough to a crime to warrant some spotlight.
Now, while it is strongly recommended not to become a person of interest with regards to law enforcement, these weeks in lockdown have revealed that it is utterly critical to be a person of interest in your personal, professional, social or family life.
I have no friends! This is Adrian’s* reality as he slumps into his couch, the eerie humming of his refrigerator in his 11th floor apartment, totally not complementing the flashing images on his zero-volume flat screen TV.
The last personal call on his phone is 5 days old, and it’s from his Dad. The text messages are even older. A high-intensity work life meant he barely attended any parties and only graced a few hangouts ever so often.
Adrian is not a bad guy. Socially, he’s just not a Person of Interest today for his network who are having to face the pressures of the new COVID world. The result – no one (except his Dad) thinks long enough about him to check up on him. Coming out of lockdown, Adrian is determined to re-prioritize his personal social network and develop true and meaningful relationships.
I’m sorry, we have to let you go! Sandra* listens over the phone as her “work bestie” Cindy* recounts her short and stark conversation with her manager moments ago.
In all honesty, Sandra feels saddened by the news but cannot get her mind away from the back to back conference calls and the unending emails waiting to be treated.
Cindy is not a bad employee. Professionally, she’s just not a Person of Interest today as the business struggles to pivot and get its footing amidst the crisis. Cindy didn’t actively leverage opportunities to support other teams beyond her job scope or create new and additional value to set her apart at work. Coming out of lockdown, you bet Cindy is determined to lean in more at her next job opportunity and if she opens her own business, she knows firsthand, what qualities to look for.
That’s not how we do it! This is the frustrating chorus that Leo* has gotten accustomed to, as he tries to help his kids around the house.
The accompanying smirk or look of pity, from his partner is hard to miss. Leo is not a bad person. Providing the best quality education, lifestyle and home for the family required certain sacrifices which he had been determined to make.
While he was vaguely aware of how “out of the loop” he would become with his family, he never expected to face the abrupt reality of his situation or how unfulfilled it would make him feel. Needless to say, Leo has moved the needle in this regard. He now knows routines, snack preferences, favorite TV shows and “must have” good night cuddles. Did I say he’s also determined not to fall back into the distant parent mode?
We can do it, Mummy! My 11yr and 9yr old kids quip back at me as they prance around the kitchen, fixing an elaborate breakfast of French toast, scrambled eggs, sausages and pressed juices.
Baking during lockdown has been a team sport and really offered them a unique opportunity for some life lessons (read cooking!). I’m perplexed by how much I have underestimated their abilities. Clearly, they are Persons of Interest in our kitchen and you can trust that I plan to continue these crucial life skills with them, well after lockdown.
As countries lift restrictions and reopen for business, trade and travel, are you still a Person of Interest? How will you change to adapt to the new world order? What will you do differently to become or remain a person of interest socially and professionally?
*All names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Anne is the Communications Director for GE’s Gas Power business for Sub-Saharan Africa.