Susan Estrich


Friday. Or next Friday. Or by Thanksgiving. Or by the end of the year.

Anyway, it’s coming.

The ax. Or, if you prefer, the stick. As in, the carrot and the stick.

The carrot is you keep your hair appointment or your reservation or your tickets. Those things you might live with or without. The stick is what’s coming. If you want to keep your job, get a vaccine. If you want to go to school, get a vaccine. But wait. You need your job. Get a vaccine. You have to go to school. Get a vaccine. You’re in the military. Get a vaccine.

You don’t like it? Too bad. WFH is quickly becoming WFH-SOT, meaning “some of the time,” meaning you don’t get to disappear forever.

This WFH thing has taught us a lot of things that are good to remember, like the pleasures of elastic waistbands, the irrelevance of dry cleaners (no wonder they keep disappearing), the endless varieties of pizza and Chinese takeout, and the eternal need for hope (thank you, Ted Lasso).

Self-discipline? Some. More than some for me, but still not the same as hauling myself up and out and in and to the table. Still not the same as setting myself up with coffee and a computer and a room full of smart people to see if, somehow, together, we can put together something more than the sum of our separate sections.

To which the answer is almost always: yes.

Let me stay home if you need the draft by tomorrow. I can write fast, particularly if I don’t have to think too much.

But if you need answers? Ideas?

It is hard to brainstorm by yourself. Only one storm doesn’t bring much rain. Or synergy. No sparks. Or maybe it’s not that I think this because you say that; we could be doing that on Zoom, but it never works the same.

It’s the human thing. The buzz. It doesn’t work as well, even in the same room if everyone is wearing a mask. It’s in the eyes, too. The way we human beings (and dogs, of course) communicate with more than words, the energy that flows between us, all these things that I probably would have discounted until I spent what is now going on two years without them.

How could I say, even for a minute, that I miss meetings? I’m saying it. I miss meetings. Not because most of them are productive or that they lead to decisions, because most meetings, before and since the pandemic, tend to run too long, wander too much, end without resolution and otherwise lead me to contemplate reading a novel, or writing one. No, I miss meetings because, some of the time, the mere presence of other people in the room changes, well, everything and everyone.

There are the preliminaries: coffee or tea or soda; the ladies’ room is down the hall, I’ll walk with you; God bless you; what a great scarf ...

“Time wasters,” I used to call them. Human moments, I think of them as now that I miss them. The moments when we smile at one another. The glances we trade in the mirror. The reason you put on lipstick in the morning and leave the house every day. The chances we have to connect with those we work with and sometimes, most important, those we are working against.

I miss going places and seeing people. But not people who haven’t been vaccinated. And not places with unvaccinated people.

So here comes the ax, and I say, “Hooray.” I don’t have to waste my time trying to understand the knuckleheads who are making schools and stores and workplaces dangerous. Nope. They just need to leave.

We need to go back to work and to school and to life. And we need to be safe when we do. It’s not a matter of personal choice. The economy depends on it. So do the lives of our fellow citizens. And whether you like it or not, at least in California, it’s about to be the law.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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