What If.

What if I extended my sabbatical?

This question doesn't follow me around like a ghost. But it does pop into my head every so often. Like, if I made my sabbatical a year and some change, taking me to January or February 2021, instead of ending it in July 2020.

The biggest fear for me is physical safety during this pandemic. There are some larger companies I've talked to that mentioned they're following state guidelines on when to re-open. Like, when the state says, the state should re-open, the company will re-open.

Like, Florida and Walt Disney World.


A few impolite words about Florida's state government aside, states are re-opening not because public health guidelines have recommended it, but because the state treasuries are running dry. That's not a Florida-specific concern, that's a concern shared by every state, assuming no federal help is coming (a pretty safe bet at this point). Florida's just especially dependent on things like tourism for its tax revenue, so it needs lots of people interacting and physically spending money vs. say California which is a bit more service-oriented.

That's not mentioning how the pandemic will likely "ping-pong" between states since there is no federal coordination and states will reopen if only to gasp a breath, and cause waves of infections and shutdowns across the country long after this year. "Onsite" jobs are still more plentiful than "remote" jobs, so there's the sword of Damocles of being made to go back into the office.

That's not even mentioning any amount of recklessness, carelessness, or maliciousness on the part of manager/employee relations (which can't really be discounted, considering how "essential" workers have been treated). I've heard stories on the Internet of middle managers making software engineers go back to the office, if only so they have somebody to mind, because you can't justify your paycheck and your position at home. The only people who are happy with that arrangement are C-suite executives who care about getting stuff done, and grunt workers...who care about getting stuff done. Not to mention the liability implications if and when you do get sick. I would expect I would stop being a great "culture fit" at a company if I got cancer, or this COVID-19 thing pretty strongly, which would then take away my health insurance and result in a lifetime of debt and inextricable physical / financial suffering.

Of course, I think I'll probably just "walk" if a company made me go back into the office now. But I don't think it's unreasonable for a company to make us go back into the office when a vaccine is ready. I'd probably wait a few months before taking the vaccine, and see what the negative side effects might be on the first cohort of the population...because the FDA has likely been gutted like everything else and the vaccine might be rushed. Not to mention initial doses of the vaccine might not be available to lower socio-economic classes at all. Not to mention the insane costs of the vaccine passed down from the manufacturer to the patient (moi), since a government subsidy is unlikely. I don't expect mercy, but I do expect the freedom of action to defend myself and mine.

I think people are also hoping that there will be a change of administration next January. I'd be pleased if that occurred, because it may be the beginning of the end for this response to the virus, but I'm not holding my breath. 40% of the country still supports the incumbent administration. That's a high enough ceiling to obfuscate the results, enough to prevent the military from taking any decisive action. By my guesstimate, we need 2 million total counted dead in order to be on the same page as a country (might not even be enough, maybe 20 million total dead? How many result in mass graves or unburied bodies on every street corner?), we'll see if 250,000 by November or so is enough to change people's minds. If not, we're probably looking to extend the virus to 2022, and honestly probably further.

As an aside, I think the situation is bad given America's long history of relatively decent leadership, but historically I think it's just regressing back to the mean. During the Plague of Justinian, people had to pay taxes for their dead family members, and that to finance a war overseas for the glory of the Byzantine emperor, not for some cure or anything benefiting people.

So I don't expect too much from other people, because frankly I don't control them. They are free to do as they wish. What I'm concerned about is what I'm going to do with myself.

I think the initial set of fears I had looooong before this virus came into being -- that there's a limited window in which to move between socioeconomic classes before it closes forever, that living in this country as a not-rich person would be tempting a fate worse than death, and that one day soon it might be safer to live here than other places if the Republic falls and powerful intersts start looking for external enemies to scapegoat (like the remaining free countries in the world) -- has partially manifested itself during this pandemic. Like maybe 1% of the world I've envisioned has come to life, and the remaining 99% has yet to executed on. But seeing the future and being able to do something about it are two different things.

I'd like to be wealthy, or have multiple income sources, so that I'll never need to worry about health insurance. And to get that, I need capital. I need to accumulate capital. And I don't have any at the moment.

Not sure if I'm overly complaining, or if I'm just being dramatic, or if everything is kind of playing out the way I had foreseen. But I need to do something in order to change up my BATNA. I'm sick and tired of being a loser. I'm tired, and I want things to change.

But how do I get there?