In the Year 2020
Dear Future Traveler,
You probably studied the events of 2020 in school. I’m sure you learned the major details about The Pandemic. A coronavirus that had nothing to do with beer. Got formally named Covid-19, but few know the details around 1-18. Started in Wuhan, China. Spread throughout the entire world. Too many lives lost. Medical facilities and health care workers overwhelmed. Shortages of PPE (yeah, I never knew what that meant before, either. Personal Protective Equipment, and essential to medical staff) and ventilators. Countries shut down to slow the spread. We learned social distancing, worked from home and an entire industry grew up around the making of designer face masks. Home schooling went mainstream. But while the crisis was often overwhelming, there were a few funny (or absurd, depending on your perspective) events that provided some comic relief.
Top of the list has to be The Great and Sudden Worldwide Toilet Paper Shortage. Yes, the first response after being warned of a highly contagious, deadly virus that affected the LUNGS was to rush out and buy up all the toilet paper. The first wave may have planned to wrap themselves or their houses in TP to ward off the virus, but the rest just jumped on the bandwagon. Hoarders dedicated rooms to hold their treasures, like Smaug the dragon sitting on his pile of jewels. Entrepreneurs hit the road, cleaned out stores and set themselves up on the internet, offering their precious cache for ten times the going price. Families began to institute strict “# of sheets per bathroom visit” rules. If your ancestors invested in TP at the time, the inheritance may have paid for your college education. Your grandmother may still have a few rolls left in the storage unit she bought in 2020.
Senior Store Hours. It was well-intentioned. Set aside an hour early each morning exclusively for seniors, those poor, fragile, vulnerable people, so they didn’t have to compete with the ravaging hordes. Well, most of those seniors were Baby Boomers who had long ago mastered rushing the stage for an open-seating concert, only this time their target was toilet paper. And cleaning supplies, pasta, hand sanitizer and chicken. Different target, but the tactics remained the same. The Early Boomer Gets the Worm, or at least four rolls of TP. And four more, for a friend. The fleetest of foot could be tripped up by a subtle movement from the bearer of a walker, and a cane was sometimes the deciding factor. By the time the regular folks arrived an hour later, the shelves were bare. Survival of the Earliest.
We all Zoomed into a different kind of interpersonal relationship. Too personal if you asked most folks. Video conferencing, which is neither “in-person” nor “not-in-person”, took us behind the scenes of each other’s lives. Not only did we learn what other’s homes looked like, we saw things. Things that were hard to unsee. Nose hair. Hair roots. From people who either sat too low, too high, or too, too close. Back away, please back away! No, not your pores! Arrrghh!! (Sorry, that was a bad flashback.) Worse, we saw ourselves. Tried to look into the webcam but like a bad traffic accident, our eyes kept getting drawn back to the wreck that was us. Is that my hair?! I have bags under my eyes! How can I blow my nose! Will anyone see me sip this wine? What? I’m sorry, was I talking out loud? I thought I was on mute!
For me, the day the world tipped was Friday, March 13. Yes, on Friday the 13th the rumor went out that the governor was closing down our state Monday night at 8PM. The scramble was on to figure out just how essential you were, and where the hell you were going to fit all these people in your house. One day you were putting your kids on the bus, kissing your partner goodbye, and stopping in at Starbucks for your favorite brew. The next thing you knew, you were sitting at your kitchen table trying to figure out how to renovate your house to include a home office, classroom and indoor rec center. You looked to your dog for sympathy, but she was just thrilled at the turn of events. Then your partner announced he was working from home, too. You just knew that a shared office space would be the end of a lovely relationship. You added Bailey’s to your coffee and got ready for the long haul.
The good news, as you can see, is that we survived. We looked out for each other, flattened the curve and got our economies going again. We learned, in the Out-Of-Time, the truth behind Anthony J. D’Angelo’s words, that “the most important things in life aren’t things.” The world and its people came out healthier and happier.
Very truly yours,
Hey, in a world of uncertainly, why can’t I imagine the ending? Stay safe; be well and look out for each other!