A World Less Certain | Enter The Zoom Room

How to make shelter-in-place your new-normal happy space

Finding a “happy space” is sometimes referred to as a trouble-free mindset or a physical space where you can kick back and chill out.

The Happy Room

While supervising a call center team, management converted a meeting room into a sanctuary from the stress of handling customer complaints all day. The frontline specialists called it the “happy room.” Unfortunately, the old-school manager refused to allow scheduled breaks (required by California State law), and lunch breaks were cut in half. The call center manager said that specialists could use the restroom anytime they want and share a slice of cake to celebrate team member birthdays. With only one scheduled break allowed during an 8-hour shift, the happy room – not surprisingly – became a stinky lunchroom with the manager saying: let them eat cake!

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The manager and her assistant manager stooge sponsored a contest to replace the name “happy room” with something that sounded a little more professional. The Stress Buster Lab, as I recall, won the top prize. But no one called it that. The Happy Room stuck, mostly because it mocked management for their lack of empathy for even creating a happy place in the middle of a heartless automobile call center.

The manager’s disconnect with frontline staff became so pronounced the clocks on the walls froze because the batteries were never replaced. Team performance charts and customer ‘thank you” letters displayed in the call center were nearly a year out of date. Time stood still, as it always does when employees feel like they are burning in hell to earn a living.

The Vegan Virus (How Zoom will save us all!)

I get the feeling we are living in nature’s neighborhood now. Wild animals control the streets in broad daylight, and insects infiltrate our homes 24/7. Ants make trails to the kitchen sink and food cabinets without obeying social distancing. Coyotes come down from the hills to attack our pets (none of them wear a mask). Birds rule the airways, and crap on anything that moves – people and pets are their favorite targets. A woodpecker laughed at me this morning. I laughed back. The wily pecker dive-bombed me without dropping leaflets warning humans to stay off the streets.

What the hell is happening?!

We need to reclaim our supremacy over the natural world. Who am I kidding? Until the pandemic is over, four legs, wings, sharp teeth, and beaks will rule the neighborhoods.

We can still fight for our homes and family. God bless our mess! The space behind the front door is our first line of defense. Setting up a bulwark bedroom is our second line of defense unless you have a “bunker” with food supplies to last until “the vaccine” is available. Most of us don’t have concrete basements, but nearly everyone has a bedroom.

Now, all we need is a reliable commutation network well-suited for long-term isolation. Need I remind you the pandemic only effects humans? The danger is not Trump’s “Chinese Virus” because the vegan cartel is behind the spread of the coronavirus. My daughter, Maia, is a member. Our family never speaks of her involvement in the vegan underground. Their secret society is safe with me, mostly because no one will ever believe me when I say: the bovine and poultry operatives are the ones who unleashed the coronavirus. Maia says, “The media, government, and all your friends will laugh at you, dad!”

Foolish humans.

Who do you think benefits most from an Armageddon showdown between animals and humans? That’s right, ravens and roaches. They are the world’s best survivors. And you thought we only had to fear the coming zombie apocalypse.

Zoom is crack for the youth

There is a place where we can meet side-by-side without wearing masks. With over 28 million downloads, Zoom video conferencing is spreading faster than the pandemic. The desktop or laptop screen is like the classic TV theme opening of The Brady Bunch. Zoom is the safest meeting place on Earth because it can be accessed while “sheltering in place” home alone.

My daughter finished her final semester classes at USC in her room on Zoom. She lives off-campus using Zoom to communicate with us during the pandemic.

While the younger generation of vegans is zoning out on Zoom, adults with children can use it to better isolate themselves from their young children (future vegans). This will stop the virus dead in its tracks.

Zoning out on Zoom

Zoom is distracting, much like mobile phone use – especially if you are young and easily distracted (or an old fart like me).

Imagine you are attending a Zoom conference. First, you will notice how even backstabbing workmates appear less evil. They are contained in tiny boxes. But unlike the Brady Bunch looking up and down and side to side, they sit in their orderly squares and fidget. When called upon, you simply offer up something reasonably articulate to say then fade back into the squares like a cozy quilt. You press mute and check your Instagram account.

Everyone on Zoom is a bottomless workmate, all pretending to be engaged “team players.” Your work life on Zoom is a game of striking the right balance; timely interaction mixed with bad boss jokes using Zoom’s private chat.

You hit mute again and go after the business owner, who thought it was a good idea to hire a pop psychologist for the last offsite team-building meeting. The personality profile test results exposed you to your workmates as being “amiable.” While others were assigned spirit animals such as owls, lions, and dolphins, the facilitator assigned you to the personality profile group of golden retrievers (the only domesticated animal). You are seen now as the affable office pet.

“F-you, Bill!” Damn, you forgot to press mute.

Fighting back!

But, what if you still have grade school children living at home?

Psst. I’ve heard Zoom is planning a gymnasium-sized location where you can have your children tested for the coronavirus. If they are disease-free, they will remain at the center and be well cared for, along with a variety of activities to keep them busy like bicycling and leaving skid marks anywhere they like. Healthy vegan meals with scab picking and nose picking galore!

Parents keep in touch using Zoom from their comfy bedroom. The laptop is brightly aglow with their sweet fidgeting faces. The super-rich sends their children to boarding school through high school, why can’t we? Wouldn’t you rather be surfing the net for porn during a business meeting on Zoom while eating scraps of animal death, than laying at the beach with the COVID carriers like sardines snacking on tofu and lentils to meet their daily protein requirement?

Zoom stands for F (Family), E (Education), and W (Work). With the kids away during the pandemic, count yourself among the privileged “FEW.”

One-room Zoom

A bedroom with access to a fridge, microwave, toilet and a shower – sounds like a party to me. Amazon shopping and home delivery, exercising online with Peloton spin classes, online doctor visits, haircut and a shave using a beard trimmer, a bed used as a trampoline for fun fun fun! Who needs the sun? EVERYTHING you need without leaving The Zoom Room.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Zoom’s marketing strategy resembled a neighborhood drug dealer giving the first taste for free. Now we must pay for the extended use service. But it’s well worth the price.

Sunshine is overrated. So is parenting. And for that matter, responsibility for anyone other than YOU. Aaah yes, the Me Generation is not dead yet. When times get tough, there is always space enough at the happy room on Zoom.


Rick Thomas
Author Rick Thomas is the former museum curator and vice-chair of education for the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation. He served on the South Pasadena Natural Resources Commission, helping to maintain a strict policy protecting the city’s great old-growth trees. Using touchstone photographs from his own collection—one of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest accumulations of historical images and artifacts—as well as national, state, and local historical archives, Thomas provides a window to his city’s past and an understanding of why its preservation is so important.