For most employees, Monday is the first official day to return to campus. The faculty will return in a few weeks.

We require people to be on campus at least 60% of the time each week, so not everyone is there. But there are more people there than I have seen in the last few days.

I have already had the first awkward moment, just a few hours into the new reality.

We have regulations for wearing masks indoors, so everyone wears a mask in the corridor. Sometimes when walking outside, people will wear it for a while.

You can see where I am going.

I left my lunch at home-did I mention that this was the first day of return? ——So I ran to the local area during lunch time to get a sandwich. I got one and went back to campus. When I walked towards an entrance, I saw a person I knew approaching me on the way to the parking lot. The following exchanges took place:

Her: Hi, Matt!

Me: hi, [wrongname]!

After the passage, it took me a full second to realize that I had mistaken her for someone else. This happens when you can only see someone’s face from above your nose, and you are caught off guard and lack practice.

I am ashamed.

When I arrived at the office, I quickly sent an apology email. She was very polite and claimed that she hadn’t noticed. I am grateful for this kindness.

When the campus was overcrowded last time, we did not wear masks. But it’s been almost a year and a half, and everyone has to mask their faces. I foresee more embarrassing moments to come.

So, I beg my colleagues and wise and worldly readers everywhere: let us remember that we are slack with each other, especially in the first few weeks. Many people will shake off a lot of rust at the same time. Masks, despite their popularity, make instant recognition more difficult, so that those momentary greetings become a bit risky.

Now, if I can remember to bring lunch…

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