Nanny Bakker: “I thought, I’m 55. If I want to do something else, then it has to be now. COVID-19 crisis or not.” Changing jobs in the middle of a pandemic; is that not difficult? It’s not too bad, said Bakker. “I haven’t settled in completely yet, but that is normal if you have only been working there for four months. That is not because of COVID-19. But asking a colleague a quick question has become tougher because of the lockdown. You miss out on what you would normally pick up from ‘a chat in the corridor’.” She misses those. In her last job, she was the pivot in the business for years. “I have to get used to the idea that I no longer know everything. Sometimes I find it difficult that I don’t know everything that is going on.” In the meantime, she “actually also likes that”.
In her new position as officer for safety and security – “or the non-sexy name ‘employee internal services’” – she is responsible for the hiring of security for the evenings and weekends. In addition, she ensures that all five University Library locations have enough health and safety officers. In case of fire or another calamity, they get the people out of the building as quickly as possible, and in the case of an accident they provide first aid. She recently completed the course successfully, but honestly hopes that there are no accidents when she is on duty. “I am afraid of blood. I can easily watch an open-heart operation on TV, but if I see it in real life, I go weak at the knees. If ever anything happened to the children in the past, I called my husband.”
Bakker set up her office in the living room. With an office chair, keyboard and monitor from the university library she “had all the conveniences”. She shares her ‘office’ with her husband, who is a quiz master and board game designer. “I had to get used to that. I tend to get involved with his telephone calls, for example.”
The three children have moved out of the house. When they come home, we still embrace each other. “At home, we are not very careful,” Bakker confesses. “We ask them to be as careful as possible. My husband and I have a minimal social life. Now and again, we walk with friends. That’s about it. I hope that they do the same.” But how realistic is the latter? She is in doubt: “Our eldest is a gym teacher in a primary school in Maastricht and he has been to work. With this new B1117 variant we may need to be even more careful.” Until now, the family has been COVID-19 free. “Although I have been tested twice. The first time it wasn’t bad at all. The second time was not as nice. I think it depends on who does it.”
In the evenings, weekends and on her free Wednesday, Bakker crochets, an old hobby that she has picked up again due to COVID-19. “I am from a creative family. We used to craft, sew, crochet, knit and use a spool knitter.” What kind of things does she make? “At Christmas time, ornaments for the tree or for on Christmas cards, furthermore a jumper for myself and I made a bath mat from old duvet covers. It is quite addictive.”
Normally, Bakker cycles from Margraten to work on a daily basis. Because of the pandemic she only goes to work at the desk in the computer landscape in Randwyck twice a week. Due to lack of exercise, her old back complaints have returned. “At the beginning of the pandemic, I sat for approximately eight hours a day. Moving about every couple of hours is important to keep my back flexible. I have forced myself to walk for half an hour every two hours. In addition, every now and again I walk to the kitchen one floor down to make a cup of tea. At work you normally walk to get a cup of tea or to have a chat with someone.” So, there is a lot of walking, but Bakker also does back exercises with weights every day and she has started to jog. Or “sjokken”, as she herself says. It is important in order to prevent back complaints and good to “get the heart pumping”.
Six days of Christmas
Against all expectation, the highlight of last year was Christmas, says Bakker. “Normally, the whole family gets together to share meals and play games. That is what we wanted to do this year, going against all the rules, but our children felt it was better not to. My eldest sister and brother-in-law are over 65 and so it’s dangerous.” They decided to cut the festivities up into pieces. The result: Christmas lasted six days. “Fantastic. At a big table with the whole family, everyone shouts over each other. In small groups, you have completely different conversations.” She spoke to her daughter, sister and brother in-law about the new book by René Diekstra: ‘In gesprek met je ouders’, (In conversation with your parents). “It contains 71 questions to ask your parents. Questions such as ‘How did you celebrate birthdays?’ or questions about the war. We spoke extensively about that. That is how, for example, I learned that my brother-in-law did not have a good time at all as a child. I never knew that. You don’t talk about things like that at a crowded table.”