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When changing plans becomes your plan

How COVID-19 kept on screwing with our plans and we just decided to follow destiny.

Let’s imagine just for a second you partied hard on a Friday, then passed out, stepped into a time machine and woke back up a week later. What do you think would have changed? In most people’s life probably not much at all, if anything. So, I’ll change the question up a tiny bit for about, we make it Friday, the 13th of March 2020? Well, I guess NOW we’re talking!

"No, you can’t buy toilet paper, pasta, soap or yeast. The store is basically empty - except for booze, Cologne will never run out of booze…"

First of all, you check your mails and what used to be true for 50% of your working hours now becomes reality for 100% of your time: you’re officially working from home full time. So do your students. Except, home office is not a concept they’re familiar with, because home is for video games and sleeping. Fine, if no one answers your zoom call for the math lesson, you decide to do a quick run to the grocery store. It dawns on you, that quick might not be exactly the word of choice when you see the line outside the store - a supermarket, which you always thought of not really offering anything worth standing in line for. Once you approach the door you wonder if you could possibly still be wasted - REWE has a bouncer now?! And it’s literally the guy who told you back on Friday, it might really be time for you to go home. Now he won’t let you in to REWE unless you wear a mask. Fine, whatever, you live in the middle of Cologne, crazier things have happened. The whole situation is only getting weirder inside. No, you can’t buy toilet paper, pasta, soap or yeast. The store is basically empty - except for booze, Cologne will never run out of booze… no, wait, not exactly true, they’re out of Corona. By now you’re kind of confused, so you go and see your fortune teller and she tells you this: for the next couple of weeks you’ll be stuck with your significant other, mostly in your apartment, the government has put strict regulations impacting your personal freedom into place, all public institutions will be closed down until further notice as well as almost the entire service industry. This will become true for the entire planet you live on. Wow, you think to yourself, that’s hilarious and sounds like a global pandemic in one of those end-of-world-movies, haha. Turns out: the joke is on you.

Back to reality: we settled into our home office situation pretty quickly, adjusting both of our work routines which included less workload but also being confronted with challenges such as the realisation of distance learning for Katha, when half of her students don’t even have their own internet device. But you live and you learn and truth be told: this whole Covid-19 thing was a much-needed boost in terms of digitalisation for the educational sector, so hopefully it lasts.

When it became clear around the middle of April that schools wouldn’t open after spring break and GoPro events kept being postponed further back into the year, we started to overthink the plans for our big trip. And since, at that point, we couldn’t even have left Germany, we had a couple of glasses of Spritzer and Dark & Stormy and came to the conclusion that it would be best to postpone the entire project. Björn’s boss was actually kind of relieved to keep him a little longer and Katha’s boss told us it wouldn’t really matter whether she was gone the first or second half of the school year. It was kind of sad to see the finish line being pushed back 6 months, but whatever - you can’t mess with destiny, can you? Katha would file the application for the sabbatical starting in February 2021, when hopefully things would be back to normal again.

"Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans."

Here’s another question for you: Have you ever owned one of those calendars that provide you with wise but also kitschy sayings? If so, you have definitely come across this one: Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans. I knoooooow, so lame and only an excuse for people to not make any plans at all, right? That’s what we thought, but - unbeknownst to us - we had an imaginary calendar which displayed exactly these wise words on April 15th. It started with Katha getting an email from her superiors which - in very short and bureaucratic words - informed us that the sabbatical could not be rescheduled. Without saying it, the sender of the mail also made it very clear that this decision was not going to be changed under any circumstances. Needless to say, this was a huge downer. What would we do? Spend 7 months driving around the Mecklenburg Lake District because at the time all the borders were still closed down?! Not exactly the kind of adventure we had been hoping for.

Little did we know that the decision about what to do with our plans would be taken out of our hands only 3 hours later when Björn’s boss called to tell him the big news: Björn would be laid off with a 3 month notice and released from his duties by the end of April. Wait, what now? How exactly did we get from Life is what happens while you’re busy making plans to No matter how bad your situation is, it could always be worse?!

Within a couple of weeks and then 3 hours, everything we had planned, discarded, rearranged, doubted, dismissed and then re-planned was once more not going the way we wanted it to. It was definitely a lot to take in but we are not the ones to linger on. After, again, some much-needed drinks we were ready more take on the challenge of figuring out what to do once more. We believe in destiny and that everything happens for a reason (oops, #3) - I mean, is there any more obvious way to tell us we should be leaving in July?!


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