The grid has replaced the conference table. I remember one of the best things about my office where I used to work was my table. I had a very nice office with so much room I could also have a small “conference” table in the middle. I actually bought my own table and assembled it in my office. It was the perfect space for a small team meeting or even a one on one supervisory conversation. I loved making a fresh pot of coffee and serving it at my table (along with my agenda). Those days are gone! Covid has shut down what tables used to do for us! At least for now.
Think of all those lonely tables in meeting spaces we used to occupy. I loved classrooms full of tables and chairs full of people buzzing in conversation. The conference room with wall to wall white boards (and a huge table in the middle). Even a cavernous food court with tables everywhere. No matter either if the tables happened to be those sickly white plastic ones with slightly wobbly legs. Tables used to put people next to each other the way Zoom does now in rows of three stacked on each other like the Brady Bunch. “Pull up a chair.” has now become “Would you mind muting while I’m talking?”
Until tables bring us back together, we’ll have to remember our gatherings with screen shots like these. Here are a few of my favorite Zoom moments from the past month.
I had never attended a Dissertation Defense. I didn’t even know you could attend such an event. Until my son, Aaron invited us to his. The screen shot represents about a third of the people on the Zoom session. Phillip Ansell is Aaron’s advisor and head of his dissertation committee. Several other professors and grad students attended. All our family got to be there. Aaron presented for about an hour. I was amazed! I was also thankful that somewhere in my background I’d gotten an engineering degree myself (so I could half-way keep up with what was being said).
The committee left to go to a break-out room for a few minutes while we got to decompress with Aaron. Poppy, Aaron’s 2 year old got to join him and see who all was in the zoom room. In about 10 minutes the committee returned to announce that Aaron had passed (with no revisions as it would turn out).
It wasn’t quite the event it would have been were we able to be there in person, but just as much joy at watching Aaron get to the end of his last wind-tunnel! At some point in the future with covid tamed and out of the way, our whole family will be able to be around a table together celebrating in person.