Looking Out into the Dark

There is a great line in the movie “Sunset Boulevard” where the “has been” movie star, Norma Desmond, addresses the crew at a Hollywood studio.

She thinks she is about to make a new film, and is excited to be back. With “the cameras and all those wonderful people out there in the dark.”

Unlike Norma Desmond, I am going back to the work, but it feels a little odd.

It has been about six weeks now since I worked at the news station. Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, I have been working from home. I’m still reading the news everyday but doing it from my family room.

This is all changing. This week, I am officially back. An office upstairs in the HR Department has been converted into my own private little studio. Some might say that the best place for me is tucked away in Human Resources. After all, I’ve had more than a few meetings in HR…

Anyway, this is where I am. I must say, it’s really nice. I have a good camera, great lighting—perhaps the best lighting of my career—even a TelePrompTer. If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know it’s not the perfect TV studio.

Here’s the thing: I’m in there alone.

No camera operator. No floor director. Just me. That’s by design. This slow return to the TV station is to protect everyone. I’m told that besides me, the only people in that room will be the deep cleaning crew.

That’s what has got me thinking about that great line from “Sunset Boulevard.” It’s just me and the camera. It’s my new normal. It might be like this for a very long time, too—and I’m okay with it if this is what it takes to keep me working.

I think a lot of people are realizing that nothing will be like it was before COVID-19. Not for a long time. I saw a story on the news about a hair salon that is opening again. They are social distancing the clients, constant cleaning and sanitizing, no walk-ins, and appointments only.

Restaurants are doing the same thing. Distancing. Cleaning. Reservations. I think this will be the way we do things for awhile.

It’s not easy, but it’s the way it is. People want to work. People need to work. People are scared.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin painted a grim picture on Fox News Sunday. Unemployment could reach 25 percent. That’s Great Depression level unemployment. This is different though. Mnuchin said, “Unlike the Great Depression where you had economic issues that led to this, we closed down the economy.” Closed down the economy because of Coronavirus.

Now, there is some light. The Treasury Secretary also predicts a better third and fourth quarter and a great 2021. Let’s hope he’s right.

The rest of that quote from Norma Desmond is this. “Alright, Mr. Demille, I’m ready for my close-up.” Norma may have been ready for that, but I’m not. I’m just ready to get back to something akin to “normal.” To talk into that camera again. It’s what I do. It’s the only thing I really know how to do.

Close-ups. Not yet. Not until I get a little Botox. Not even great lighting can fix everything!

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