On Tuesday September 6, I woke up genuinely excited. After a disorienting 908 days away, MM+M and its Haymarket Media siblings were set to return to the office en masse for the first time since before … well, you know.

The previous night, I packed up my laptop and charging cords and water bottle. I roused my office key card from its desk-drawer hibernation. I even took the fashion-forward step of identifying a clean shirt with operational buttons. I was ready.

Unfortunately, I also woke up experiencing a second sensation: Shooting pain in one of my teeth. I decided to drop in on my dentist on the way to the train. Couldn’t hurt, right?

That question quickly exited the realm of the rhetorical. Four hours later, I was down one molar and quite a bit of cash, courtesy of what the insurance form described as an “extraction of erupted tooth” and a “socket preservation graft.” The surgery knocked me out through the next day, which had been envisioned as the second half of the homecoming doubleheader.

I missed the opening-day fanfare, the warm reacquaintances and the pizza. Not that I would’ve been able to indulge in the latter.

When I finally made my return, what struck me was the ease with which everybody had folded back into their familiar rhythms. In retrospect, I’m not sure why I expected a (sort of?) post-pandemic reality to immediately vaporize the one that was so deeply ingrained.

Viewing the results of the 2022 MM+M/AbelsonTaylor Career and Salary Survey on my first day back, on the other hand, made me question that first impression. Hence the cover line for our analysis of this year’s Career and Salary Survey: “Holding Pattern.”

Salaries are down a touch after 2021’s spike, though still below where they were in 2019. Job satisfaction is similarly shaky, yet compares favorably to other marketing verticals.

Maybe a storm is headed this way. Maybe it’ll veer off to sea. Heaven forbid anything in this decade should be remotely predictable.

The industry nonetheless gets points for its spirit and ingenuity in the face of sustained uncertainty. In “A sort of homecoming,” we share the perks employers have put in place to win over reluctant office returnees. Our fourth annual “6 Degrees of Medical Marketing” presentation illustrates the breadth of the industry’s web of personal and professional connections.

We’re different, because how could we not be after the trauma COVID inflicted? But as a community, we’re battle-tested and ready for almost any eventuality. We’ll figure it out, together.