Expected to go into work every day because some higher up got it in their head to classify him as an essential worker, Herb Bumstead’s route through his office building to his desk each morning is like navigating a social distancing minefield. The hallway to his office is not wide enough to permit six feet of clearance between himself and an approaching coworker. Herb compensates for the close quarters by darting from doorway to doorway, letting others pass, and only proceeding when the coast is clear. Dodging a lingering vapor cloud can be a bit tricky, but like a nimble cat burglar, Herb holds his breath and spider crawls or cart wheels from recess to doorway to alcove until the threat has passed. Should a group of workers from another office enter the hall and converge on Herb, he temporarily aborts the mission by ducking into a restroom or maintenance closet.
Social-distancing is a great idea in theory, but the reality of physical space conspires to herd us together. For Herb, a cramped stairwell is the worst. Encountering a single-file group of four engaged in a lively conversation while descending the stairway could potentially expose Herb to the lingering vapor cloud of their chatter for nearly an entire flight of stairs. Efforts to hold his breath for an entire flight have caused Herb, in a number of instances, to pass out before reaching the upper landing. On occasion, Herb will turn tail, bound back down the steps to the bottom and wait for the group to exit the stairwell. But often this scenario quickly devolves into a Buster Keaton-esque routine where multiple attempts to reach the top of the stairs are turned back by yet another group, sending Herb careening back down to the bottom again.
For Herb, corners and doorways represent a thoroughly confusing ordeal, requiring not a small amount of telepathic communication. Approaching a doorway, Herb sometimes senses a presence approaching from the opposite direction, prompting him to halt a safe distance from the door in order that the presence might pass without violating the six foot rule. The only problem is the presence is often standing six feet clear of the other side of the door waiting for Herb to do the same. Says Herb, “It seems our extra-sensory abilities only extend so far. We can detect conscious beings in our vicinity, but we’ve not yet acquired the ability to communicate our intentions.” Unless, of course, we just shout, “Coming through!”