Summer of 2020, the height of the coronavirus pandemic. I was but a mere intern. The office was nearly empty, with just the two other interns, our respective mentors, a few administrative employees, and some transient management. With how small in numbers we were, everyone who stepped into the office felt like a mentor to me. I learned new things from each one of them, whether it be about HVAC or about how to save for retirement. I valued spending my time with my coworkers.
One of my favorite parts of the day was the lunch break – not because of the food, but because I was getting to know the people I was working with. The first time a coworker mentioned volleyball to me was during one of these outdoor patios seated lunches. Andrew and Lee spoke about wanting to bring more people into their volleyball playing. As someone who had never played sports, I quickly brushed off the thought of me pretending I could amount to anything athletic wise.
I returned to school after my internship and spent most of my time at home surfing the web for a COVID friendly way to pass the time. A new search hit, a new hike, takeout destination, TV show, a way to assuage the restlessness. My family and I would gather for a post-dinner game of Rummikub and call it a night. Living with my parents for my last year at school was a difficult decision. I sacrificed a social life during the pandemic to keep my family and I safe. I was ready to return to work and have something to do.
Coming back to Summer Consultants after the vaccines rolled out meant the rules had changed for socializing. The office had grown in numbers and senior staff were returning. One lunch break about a month into starting full time, my coworkers and I were gathered the shaded patio table. I glanced up at everyone, their eyes squinting to block the sun. I was suddenly struck with an idea. I turned to Senior Engineer Jim G. and unleashed a question that little did I know, would push me to keep asking similar questions. “Can we have an ice cream party?” Jim finished his bite of salad, and said “Yeah, that sounds like a great idea. We can do it out here on the patio where we can be socially distant.”
After the ice cream social, Sarah and I were discussing how fun it was to hang out with our coworkers more. I mentioned volleyball being a fun outdoor activity that others were interested in. With the confidence from the success of the ice cream social, Sarah and I sprang into action to plan our volleyball league. Thus, “Notorious MEP” was born.
Our volleyball games were every Thursday at in Arlington, VA. I wanted to include more of the company to get involved instead of just the league players, so started I planned happy hours prior to our games. To help with the social distancing, I selected outdoor seating where I could. We tried a number of local places including Whole Foods, Punchbowl Social, The Perch, Lost Dog Café, and Liberty Barbeque all saw my coworkers and I enjoying an evening together before a game. Although we didn’t get first place in the league, everyone who participated had a good time.
When Halloween rolled around, I invited coworkers to dress up in costumes with me. There we were, Eeyore, Pooh Bear, and Stitch. Due to the delta variant of covid, most of our staff was working from home around Halloween. When the photo of the three of us was shared with the rest of my coworkers, I was surprised to hear others felt left out. I since have made a pact to include all staff for big Halloween dress up plans next year. When Christmas time came, Pete asked for my help to get people involved in a photoshoot with him as Santa. I sprang into action and with the help of a few others, we had construction workers, elves, and engineers take photos with Santa.
At the cusp of planning a company bowling team, the pandemic took a turn for the worse. With the new omicron variant being highly contagious, we were all sent to work from home. Prior to the start of all of us working from home, Anthony suggested the idea of having a company gaming evening. With the way the pandemic seems to be evolving, it seems like video games may be good option for the next company social event.