I was one of — *checks* — 171 recipients of the PDX Excellence in Service Awards 2020, and I would have gone to the dinner the evening of Thursday, March 12th. Earlier that month the airport canceled the event, out of caution. Caution that turned out to be valid. A week after when the dinner would have happened, I was furloughed, along with the rest of the airport valet operation. A couple of times over the next few months, I heard from airport reps: We want to at least get you the gifts you would have gotten at the dinner; let's find the best way. I got the option to go up to PDX and get the swag bag. That was my first errand on Friday.
I've driven up to and visited PDX a couple of times during this layoff and during, well, This, but never entered the terminal: I wasn't allowed to. Passengers and essential employees only were allowed in for a while. This time, I parked in the Short Term garage, and did some exploring before going to where a Port of Portland employee would get my bag to me. I went down to the part of the garage's third floor where the fenced-in Valet cage used to be; not there now, it's general parking. After that, I rendezvoused in one of the garage-to-terminal tunnels with the Port employee who handed me the bag; "Wish I could shake your hand," she said. Then I peaked into the terminal at its southern end. The Peet's Coffee stand on the Arrivals level and the Starbucks on the Departures level were closed and (in the case of Starbucks) roped off. I'd hoped to maybe get something from there. The terminal TriMet MAX station is still closed, due to construction around it; shuttles are getting people to and from the nearest open MAX station. Then I went back to the car, dealt with this (hey, trying to be honest here), and left to do more errands.
I set the swag bag aside until Sunday, to let any COVID possibly on it die (die, virus, die die), then unloaded it.
Swag. Meant as a thank-you for a job I can't do right now.
Which is true for so many other people, too: a lot of us work well, when we can. I like working well. I've worked well and, maddeningly, often thanklessly in several jobs over the decades. I'd like to be there, continuing to do well. But, Circumstances Beyond Our Control. Meh.
At least I've gotten an award, and skin lotion, and candy (already eaten). And at least this was meant in earnest.