For many years I've done the scheduling for a monthly Salon discussion group my wife and I are members of.
Pre-Covid, that used to be easy.
We'd meet in the homes belonging to the dozen or so people in the group. I kept track of where we met each month, doing my best to keep to a regular rotation among the various homes.
I'd ask the people who were next up in the rotation if they could host a meeting on a certain date. If they could, then I'd email everybody in the group to see if that date was OK for them.
Pretty damn simple.
Post-Covid scheduling also was easy for quite a while. From March 2020 until November 2021 we met either via Zoom, or, if the weather was warm and dry enough, outside in the back yard of one of our members.
In December 2021, when Covid cases were pretty minimal, we had a maskless in-person meeting at our house. Everyone survived. A few people chose not to attend the meeting, feeling they weren't ready yet to meet in person.
Now our discussion group is in an awkward period, along with the rest of the country, really.
Covid cases are rapidly declining, along with hospitalizations and deaths. But we're not quite in the endemic stage, when Covid simply becomes an ongoing problem to live with, like the flu.
So the twelve members of our group are representative of the range of attitudes toward Covid at this stage of the pandemic, which probably soon will become an endemic (using that word as a noun rather than an adjective).
Eight of us, including my wife and I, are fine with meeting in-person indoors.
Everybody in our group has been fully vaccinated and boosted. We're all Covid-careful. So getting together in someone's house seems low-risk. After all, we've been in public stores, gyms, and such with strangers who don't always wear a mask.
Having a small private meeting with people you know and trust is considerably less risky. And naturally anyone who wants to, can wear a mask during the meeting, which reduces the Covid risk even more (likely to almost nothing).
However, four members of our group aren't ready yet to meet indoors. They're OK with meeting outdoors, but currently the weather is too unpredictable for that to be a good option.
This has made scheduling our March meeting difficult. I've always gone by the adage, "greatest good for the greatest number." If nine people can make a meeting on one date, and eleven on another date, I'll go with the day that works for the most people.
Problem is, a Zoom meeting would have the largest number of our members taking part. Yet eight of our twelve members prefer an in-person meeting.
That's the way we're going to go this month, with hopes better weather will enable us to meet outside soon -- a desirable option until the four people reluctant to meet indoors feel comfortable doing that.
Complicating things is the difficulty in gauging how strongly people feel about meeting indoors versus via Zoom. How is it possible to compare those who really hate Zoom meetings with those who really hate the idea of meeting indoors when Covid is still circulating in our community?
Is one form of hate more worthy? Maybe. Maybe not. But I don't know how to assess that, so I'm simply assuming that the opinion of someone who wants to meet indoors is equal to the opinion of someone who wants to meet via Zoom.
Anyway, these are interesting times we live in.
Everyone wants to get back to complete normal, but Covid isn't going to allow that for the foreseeable future. So we all have to navigate a course that leads as close to normal as possible, without veering off into the shoals of either excessive risk-taking or excessive caution.