Several localities around the United States have moved into the first phase of reopening their economies and trying to get to what we will begin to know as our new normal. My stylist has over 200 appointments that she needs to catch up on and people are anxious for her to do with their hair what Michelangelo did to carve the statue of David out of a formless hunk of marble. I had to have some blood drawn for a test this week and my doctor, whom I have known for 20 years and consider a friend, was telling me how people are insistent to come in for their annual checkup just so they can get out of the house. For me? My lady parts will take a hard pass until absolutely necessary.
But I get it. For many of us, this is week 10+ of life with COVID-19 and working from home. Some have said it is like a bad version of the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day because it seems like we keep living the same day over and over again in perpetuity. In fact, I have decided that I will now measure time during the pandemic by the number of weeks I have had to reacquaint myself with my natural hair color. With that in mind, I am only on week 5 since my roots started to show and at this point I have a new hair color that I call “Denial Grey”.
Fast forward to Saturday when I ventured out to run an errand. I emerge from the vehicle with my mask and gloves ready to brave a supermarket, but what I saw was shocking. Barely a third of the people were wearing masks. Many of them were with children that they were letting run around and touch various things. It was like people were so desperate to get back to normal, that with a little bit of freedom with some non-essential businesses reopening, they went straight back to the Denial Phase. If you remember, we discussed the five stages of grief for disasters in a different post. However, it wasn’t just them that they were affecting, but others. So, today I want to talk about personal responsibility.
If you have been online at any point in the last several weeks, you will see various factions of our society battling over personal freedom versus public safety. It strikes me as funny that people think these two concepts are mutually exclusive. I argue that they are very similar because both come with responsibility. As we all move to our new normal, what will define us as individuals, as a nation, and as a world is how responsible we are with our own safety and the safety of others.
I am going to show my age here, but I remember the AIDS crisis in the 80’s and 90’s. I remember various media campaigns educating people to use condoms. “Do you have your love glove?” or “Glove it before you love it!” were some of the funny ones. It does not take much to see the similarities with what we are going through now. Sometimes people must be talked into doing the right thing just like in the 80’s when we educated people on the importance of using condoms. Now people need to be talked into the importance of using masks. The younger the person, sometimes the more convincing you need to do.
Regardless of age, we all have a responsibility to educate our loved ones and friends before they make a decision that can end their lives or the lives of others. There are several examples of this beyond love gloves such as not driving while intoxicated or not doing drugs. In providing messages like this to family and friends, you might have had an uncomfortable conversation or two, but we pushed through and did it anyway because we love them. The same can be said for educating our family about COVID-19.
We must try and educate even the loved ones that dig their heels in and do not want to listen. We all have those family members. You know the ones that you avoid having any conversations with regarding politics or society? The ones where sometimes discussing the weather is a controversial topic. I’m not going to lie. It isn’t easy, but it is necessary.
So, what’s the payoff you might wonder, for challenging the beliefs of a person that you may see once a year for a tense Thanksgiving or family reunion? Well, it is because I want each and every one of you to be around a long time to read The Disaster Lady posts long after I have run out of fresh ideas and have to resort to joke posts about the naming of hurricanes. (Oh, the horror!) In all seriousness, it is because the only way to come out of this crisis is not through hate and protests, but through love, responsibility, and care for each other. This is what will reduce the spread until a vaccine can be developed.
COVID-19 is no joke even though some people online think it is. This has killed almost 1,000 people in Virginia and infected more than 28,000 alone. That is a drop in the bucket to the 90,000 people that have died in this country and over 1.5 million who have been infected. My heart goes out to Wisconsin where 72 people last week tested positive for Coronavirus after attending a protest the week before – with many more expected. Some may say, “Well, that is just thinning the herd isn’t it?” I say that those folks do not “deserve” to suffer or die and that we have to work together to transition to the new normal. We can keep our freedom and still be safe.
For those that might be on the fence about this issue, I have this simple thought. While you may not see the virus sitting on your doorstep or waiting for you at the market, do not fool yourself. It can easily find you if you live in denial and it is not just you that will hurt. You can hurt your loved ones and friends. You can hurt the loved ones of your friends. You can hurt the friends their loved ones and their friends. (You get the picture.) Six degrees of Kevin Bacon is no joke and neither is the transfer properties of this virus. We are all closely connected to each other and it can only take one person to infect hundreds of others.
Still on the fence? Then let’s just take it to a basic level. What does it hurt to take precautions? Nothing. What does it hurt to not take precautions and get the virus? Your life or the life of others. Seems like a pretty easy decision to do something that can prevent such disastrous consequences.
So that brings me to this week. Some people will be going back to work (many without a choice because they need the money to take care of themselves and their families) and I want all of us to do them and ourselves some favors.
- Don ‘t be an a**hole (which my readers never are) and don’t allow people around you to be an a**hole to folks putting themselves out there to make a living. Many of us have the luxury of working from home. They do not. They don’t deserve a poo-poo pie from anyone who feels entitled to put them and others at risk for infection.
- Have the hard conversation with those you love if they are not taking this seriously. Politely and kindly challenge those who refuse to wear PPE that are our friends and family. If you love them, then you will want them to be safe. That means that sometimes we must deliver the hard message out of love because it is in their best interest. This also helps to prevent your loved ones from being an a**hole to others.
- Do not allow ourselves to be separated by ideologies. Believe it or not, we are on the same team here. We all want to be free and not dead. We can at least agree on that. I also believe that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. (I read that somewhere once. ;>) Recognize that patience is a virtue when you are having these conversations. Consider that they may not be wearing a mask because they do not have one and that you may need to help them find supplies to keep them safe.
- Be kind to each other and recognize that some people are fighting a battle that none of us know about. Grace is a powerful tool.
- If you can help and give Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, sanitizer, etc. to employees (even if they are not showing up to work) or those less fortunate, then do so. The poor are the most susceptible.
- Help those that are struggling. Buy from small companies that are trying to stay alive. They need the revenue more than Amazon. (Sorry, Jeff!)
Last but not least, try to have fun to keep your sanity. I plan to become like the Zorro of COVID-19 and get myself an all-black outfit complete with black facemask and gloves (upgraded for 2020). I will defend the poor and victimized against the forces of COVID-19. En garde you horrible virus!
You do not want me to have all the fun out there in my black (although very fashionable) outfit, do you? Well, you can be a hero too and protect your family, friends, and neighbors.
Regardless of the discourse we see online and on television, we are in this together and we will only survive it together. I personally want as many people with me when it is all over so that we can one day all complain about traffic again.
Stay agile. Stay safe. Stay sane.
– The Disaster Lady