Sooner or later, RePlay’s staff will be allowed to return to work at its office in Tarzana, Calif. Most of us have only been visiting the place more or less on a need-to basis during the pandemic while doing more of our work from our respective homes. But the day will come when we can return to work at the old stand on the old nine-to-four schedule. The question then might be: Who wants to come back or would they rather stay at home?
On March 15, both Ingrid and I showed up at the office at the same time (see photo) and, just like early last year and all the years before, stayed there for part of the day working at our old desks and interacting face-to-face rather than being forced to use the phone and the email to communicate.
I have to admit to mixed emotions about that. Working from home had its bad sides, but also its good ones, and uppermost among the bads for me was the long commute back and forth every day from my home up in “the boonies” on the Ventura Freeway into the city.
But as trying as that has been, nothing equals the horror of my commute when I worked for Cash Box magazine in New York City so very many years ago…though not enough years have elapsed to erase the memory of driving on the West Side Drive during a snowstorm at rush hour (did I actually say “rush”?).
Many of the people reading this spend as much time or more on the road, maybe not as much as in previous times, but more than a guy like me who “flies a desk” rather than a pickup truck. Perhaps they’ve been enjoying more time off the road during Covid restrictions and for that and some other reasons actually aren’t looking forward to a full opening of the world as much as people think.
But it looks certain that this industry’s broad customer base is quite eager to get back out to the bars and restaurants, the bowling alleys and the other entertainment centers, and will do so with a gusto when allowed to. Areas that have already liberalized restrictions seem to say the folks are truly dead tired of being denied things we all once took for granted, like sliding into a booth at a nice restaurant for a good meal and not just to have a chance to legally take off the mask.
I’ve heard that collections in more liberal places like Florida have not been good, they’ve been great! Predictions that a boom will follow the Covid bust could very well be right, and not only for route owners (who seem to have suffered the least in this period) but machine dealers and maybe even the factories who’ve probably suffered the most.
There are several upbeat stories inside this issue that support this hope. There’s little doubt that numerous businesses on all levels of this industry have been balancing on the economic razor blade much too long. Let’s pray this hoped-for return to prosperity isn’t wishful thinking but a dream with real teeth in it.