Shutdown 2020: What Have I Learned? (Part 2)

Here are some more things I have learned during this pandemic.

  1. Get to the store early/ period. more stock. fewer people. less chance of infection or missing out on toilet tissue, coffee creamer, pasta sauce.
  2. Every death is “suspicious”. It is almost impossible, now, to hear that someone has died and not suspect the coronavirus, especially when no other cause of death is given. I don’t know how many conversations I have heard that go: “So and so’s brother/sister/mother/neighbor just died.” “That’s a shame.” “Yes, it is.” “I’ll bet it was the coronavirus.” “You know it was.” “You know.” “And, they just don’t want anybody to know.” Not kidding. I’m not making it up. The coronavirus isn’t the scarlet letter, as yet, but, if you think about it, we are acting like it, like it’s something to be ashamed of, like it’s something to shun, to lock away. Which leads to…
  3. Something has been lost, temporarily or permanently. Trust. Neighborliness. Civility. Something. I can’t name it properly, yet. Maybe not ever. But, people have taken an on cue from this pandemic, a cue that it is okay now, maybe even necessary, a necessity, to treat people poorly. I have witnessed and experienced a coldness, rudeness, shortness, a disrespect in my own neighborhood, on the bus, that would have been almost impossible before. It’s not just fear. It’s anger. Contempt. I have seen one person look at another with contempt, more than once, as if they suspected them of being infected and thought they were less than nothing because of it – and that it was okay to treat them as such. They know that this will pass, right? So ,why are they acting like they don’t care what the consequences will be?
  4. Death goes on. We are still getting employee emails, though we have been shut down (except for essential workers) reporting the deaths of employees or the family members of employees. And, I continue to think of them as I did before the pandemic, and to believe that the employees, families, friends, and colleagues involved are dealing with these losses as they did before. I have to be reminded almost every time that funeral services have been suspended, that people around the world have had to grieve at home, in isolation and under social distancing, without the psychological, emotional, and spiritual closure of funeral services and other traditions.
  5. A lot more people have to die before everyone believes there’s a pandemic.
  6. It’s okay to let yourself go every once in a while. Or, so we have decided. Everyone is looking worse for wear, unshaven, makeup-free, or as if they just rolled out of bed after a streaming binge. It has been amazing how many people have just stopped caring how they look, as if they decided they will resume their professional appearance once the country is officially back to business as usual, and how we are all okay with that all of a sudden, and at the same time. And, how relaxing it has been for me.
  7. Also, the connection between society and mental wellness is becoming more apparent. Some of this personal casualness we are seeing is because of the negative mental effects of social distancing and COVID-19 fear, of self-isolation and loneliness, of losing whatever they were getting from social events and other people, front the foreignness of social distancing. People keep up their appearance for other people – for work, church, the neighbors, to date, and for social events, etc. – and it’s hard to maintain the same everyday appearance just for yourself.
  8. All we, all I, can do is take it one day at a time. Go to work, go home, and wake up, tomorrow, to see if something changed, and if someone knows what’s going to happen.

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