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  • Writer's pictureBill Hollingsworth

Eight carriages. One passenger.

Every ten minutes the DART commuter train goes past my window. At rush hour the train would normally be jammed full. Since March 13th it has continued to go past every ten minutes, but mostly only a couple of passengers. Often only one. Sometimes none. At the beginning I thought it was a waste to be doing that. Then I began to think how admirable it was to keep it going for those who needed it - the essential workers only, during full lockdown. There are many other minor accidental consequences to the current situation: How well and far sound carries over the silence. The ability to see far into the distance, now that traffic smog has gone. The recalibration of the seasons - on the one hand, the ability to observe change in nature. On the other, where did Spring and Summer go as defined seasons? It all blurs. There are a lot more people talking to each other - acquaintances becoming friends. And the small things we’ve lost; whimsy, foreign travel, socialisation, spectator sport, hugging… From a work perspective: so many people working from home. Less meetings in person. The rise of online meetings, Zoom particularly. And future possibilities? Larger companies now resigned to not refilling their offices until mid next year - will they reconsider the need for monolith offices? Will that lead to a property dip? The increase in online communication shows up some of the platforms for being quite poor. Online communication must surely improve in giant leaps. The lack of traffic is fantastic. Will people fall out of love with their cars and take to the footpaths or the clutch of new cycleways? Will less people going to offices mean shorter commutes or longer and less-frequent commutes? Change is constant. Just now it’s so widespread that it’s harder to miss than it usually is.

It’s true; things will never be the same again. But they never are. Meanwhile: #Maskup

Images: (1) detail of a poster for the inside project and part of the May Day Project (2) a short video produced with Katy Egan for The Indie List

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