Today was the inaugural day of our truncated season. It was an experiment in opening, with limited tickets for two hour blocks for members of the organization. The general consensus is that we have a core group of people who buy annual memberships, and they should be rewarded for their loyalty in a year in which we weren't open at our usual time. As an added bonus, a local storyteller who has worked our events for many, many years was on the premises to entertain our visitors.
Social distancing guidelines were maintained, and masks were required. Visitors were limited to grounds passes, our buildings weren't open to the public. Besides the usual manager on duty, one of our program directors, a vice president, and two members of our development staff were on hand to gauge the number of visitors. By all accounts, things went well... I only came to make sure the place was properly locked up when everybody else left.
The highlight of the day, of course, was seeing everybody. Most of them I hadn't seen since last November, which was about two thousand years ago. Everybody is doing okay... my standard line for the past four months has been 'everything's terrible, I can't complain'. Besides coworkers, my young Chilean friend, who worked as a custodial contractor for us last year, stopped by to meet her sister, who was working as our custodian. She graduated with honors from the local high school, but it was a truncated year, with online classes and no end-of-year New York State Board of Regents examinations. She will be attending the local community college in the fall, other college options just not on the table this year. She's a bright young woman with a strong work ethic, she just happened to arrive in this country at a bad time.
It was a good day, a nice reunion tempered by a slight undercurrent of melancholy. Typically, I'd arrive and there would be a whole contingent of staff, mainly tour guides, hanging around nerding out, and there would invariably be cake and other snacks in the break room, which has now been divested of everything except for a case of bottled water in the fridge. It's a sociable bunch that works here, it's hard getting used to the social distancing.