Memos from the before time: How to get dressed, have small talk and enjoy happy hour

We’re all pandemic zombies who have forgotten how to interact. Here are some handy survival tips.

Getting dressed

Getting dressed. (Illustration by Marie-Danielle Smith)

By all means: Put on your pants. Even if you’re not ready for non-stretch fabric.
Avoid: The T-shirt you have worn daily since March 2020 (unless freshly laundered).

Greeting strangers

Greeting strangers. (Illustration by Marie-Danielle Smith)

Do: Move your hand from side to side in a waving motion.
Don’t: Lunge forward for a hug, stare slack-jawed or frown in obvious discomfort.

Small talk

Small talk. (Illustration by Marie-Danielle Smith)

Please: Maintain eye contact. Raise the corners of your mouth in a “smile.”
Thank you for not: Breathing heavily. Segueing from the weather to your new-found nihilism.


Meetings. (Illustration by Marie-Danielle Smith)

Thumbs-up: Remember you are no longer required to unmute yourself before speaking.
Thumbs down: Not paying attention. Everyone can see your “off-camera” texting.

Coffee runs

Coffee runs. (Illustration by Marie-Danielle Smith)

Kindly: Ask your office mates if they want anything. Tip the barista generously.
Kindly stop: Holding up the line as you gawk at the menu and try to recall which one is “venti.”

Happy hour

Happy hour. (Illustration by Marie-Danielle Smith)

Remember: Befriend the bartender. Take in the classic dive-bar smell. Laugh. It’s okay to laugh.
But: Keep your shoes on and feet off the table. Because—at long last!—you’re not at home.

(Illustrations by Marie-Danielle Smith)

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