Went to the supermarket this morning to buy some basic items: milk, OJ,
prescription-strength Lysol. It was one of those supersized supermarkets that also sells stuff you can’t eat but can wear. Never understood that because none of them have try-on rooms. Just grab a chicken, juice and a cute top and pray they both taste good and look tasteful.
But that’s not the point of this post. I’m getting to that, but first I have to walk in the correct direction on this one-way aisle of prose. Yes..that’s the point. The giant, supersized supermarket has one-way aisles to help prevent people from crossing paths and spreading coronavirus. Excellent idea. In theory.
My first experience today involved finding the brand of soda my wife wrote on the list. I noticed the green sticker at the head of the aisle which meant I could enter. I felt like a law-abiding cart pusher. The problem was the workers stocking the shelves were darting about in every direction crossing paths with me several times. At one point I just stopped short before the stocker and her giant cart of soda bottles broke my plane. We were both wearing face masks and gloves, but I was tempted to make a citizen’s arrest of the obvious one-way aisle scofflaw. Are stockers immune? Do they have special dispensation by order of the one-way aisle cop? Seems they’re as likely to transmit and catch coronavirus as a suburban schlep like me. Aside from trying not to die, I don’t want points on my license for shopping the wrong way down a one-way aisle. I’ll actually have to call my insurance agent to add “supermarket aisle directional indemnity” coverage.
This particular supermarket made my task more difficult by separating brands bottled by Coca-Cola and Pepsi by a full aisle. My mission was to buy two bottles each of one brand, bottled by Coke, and two bottles of Pepsi. I was already at the end of the Coke aisle and ready to grab the Pepsi, but I would have had to walk all the way around since the Pepsi aisle was one-way…the other way. Screw it. I parked my cart at the end of the aisle, which is a directional no-man’s land. There was no one in the Pepsi aisle, so I took a chance, feeling oh, so cavalier, and took the few steps the wrong way to grab the two bottles of Pepsi. I’m sure no one saw me, but I’m also sure my misdeed was captured on the security camera. I wonder what the statute of limitations is for such an infraction.
The rest of the shopping trip went fine as I dutifully obeyed all green and red stickers. A red sticker meant you were at the wrong end of the aisle. DO NOT ENTER! OK, I was a good boy, but I saw two couples absolutely blow through the red stickers in the french fry aisle much to the horror of the guy traveling in the correct direction having a hard time deciding between spring and egg rolls. As the wrong-way couples passed him, he looked like he might need a ventilator right then and there, just from anxiety.
I do like the idea of one-way aisles to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. They’re really just a minor inconvenience and I’m sure a boon to the burgeoning colored sticky floor arrow industry, which, before this all happened, was pointing towards hard times.
To keep in shape I’ve been taking walks and riding my bike a lot. It’s easy, because I live near a very long rails-to-trails trail network. On a nice day parts of the trail are as busy as I-75 in rush hour–jammed with walkers, joggers and bikers happy to get out of the house for a bit. Oh, those folks seem happy enough, but the happiest creatures have to be the dogs.
With nothing much else to do, dog owners seem to be walking their pets like crazy. I’ve seen one of my neighbors walk her little Lhasa apso a half-dozen times a day and it expresses its joy by peeing against our mailboxes as if it’s unleashing pent up outside potty time. Another guy’s husky can’t seem to believe its good luck to get to take long, long strolls–maybe the longest of its life, almost every day!
I was on my bike yesterday along a section of the trail and kept passing a gentleman with a medium sized dog I can’t identify. Both the guy and the dog had the kind of grins one might break into after sticking a straw in a vat of hot fudge and sucking in. When I stopped for a little rest on a pedestrian bridge, the dog, which was not on a leash, ambled over to me and gave me a little “hey mister” kinda bark. I’m thinking, this dog is probably on his second or third walk of the day and has no idea how his luck suddenly has changed over the past month. In the spirit of social distancing I didn’t attempt to pet him but we exchanged friendly words.
The coronavirus pandemic is a terrible reason for anything to happen, but I’ve gotta think all the extra exercise, fresh air and expanded poop and pee opportunities for the world’s dogs is a silver lining in this dark cloud, although I’m sure some dogs, with very short legs have a very different opinion.
While I’m anxious for the crisis to come to an end and some of the restrictions on our movements to be lifted, I sort feel bad for the dogs. Will the fun of multiple walks a day end? Will their humans go back to binging Netflix instead of taking them out as many times? If I was a dog, I’d make sure I gave off as many vibes as possible to let my human know I want this to be our new normal. Lotsa appreciative licks and tail wagging. Off the couch, and on the trail, lazybones! Leash me up and let’s get walking!
I must add, though, I do not believe everything I’ve just said applies to cats. Cats are different. I imagine they’re watching their humans putting on their walking shoes, heading for the door and the cat just thinking, “just go already.”
Got a mask? A lot of people do and that’s a good thing. It’s all about being safe. Who wants to breathe in someone else’s viral voom?
I like these two kids in love using their masks like kissin’ condoms. No tongue, no problem. That’s real social distancing.
I thought I was ahead of the game when I found a couple of old face masks in my garage that I use when I’m spray painting something or the pollen gets to me when I mow my lawn. But I quickly discovered a boring white, pre-made mask is almost a fashion faux pas during this terrible pandemic.
Stuck at home with so much free time, people are getting creative, using whatever materials they happen to have on hand to stick over their noses and mouths.
My wife, being a master crafter, quickly created this one for me out of one of my old, discarded dress shirts. Despite being semi-retired for almost four years, I can still smell the stench of corporate meeting rooms on the material and, while wearing the mask, often have hallucinations of being trapped in an endless Power Point presentation.
I call the mask this guy is wearing “The Shmotah.” That’s Yiddish for rag and that’s pretty much what this gentleman has decided will do the trick for him. Personally, it looks more like something you’d use to chloroform someone attempting to steal the toilet paper from your shopping cart.
Which brings me to a masked marauder I discovered in a supermarket. That shopper decided to emulate Jesse James by affixing a bandana around her nose and mouth. Was she there to stock up on soup and crackers, or awaiting the arrival of the next Wells Fargo stagecoach in order to stick it up? Regardless, I gave her wide berth, and removed my watch.
I don’t know what this person was thinking by slapping a lettuce leaf over most of her face. If she had done this here in Michigan, the poor thing would have been immediately doused with ranch dressing.
I found this photo of a guy who seems to be protecting himself from coronavirus while also launching a campaign promoting electrolysis for anyone suffering from a new affliction I hear the CDC is calling “Hirsute Blue.”
There are some Jokers out there combining prophylaxis with paranoia.
This little girl found a way to stick out her tongue while keeping it in.
Minnie Mouse doing her part to provide maximum facial cover.
Ooops…Mardi Gras’s over. No masking this couple’s cluelessness. All they needed to do was look to their left to realize, “we made a boux boux, chere.”
So whether your mask is of the pre-fab, store bought variety, a shmotah, bandana, home crafted or creatively improvised, don’t forget to slap it on because right now, the last thing you wanna do…is go viral.
No. I don’t have cabin fever. Thank goodness I don’t have any fever and neither do any of my immediate family members….now. One did a week or so ago. That’s done. Again. Very thankful. But cabin fever? Not at all. You shouldn’t have it either, or at least submit to it.
Think about what cabin fever really is. You’re tired of being stuck in the house and can’t go out because of some condition. Unless you’re sick, you shouldn’t have it and I hope you’re not.
You don’t need to succumb to cabin fever because if you’re not sick, there’s no excuse for staying in. You can go outside. Take a walk, take a ride, hop on your bike if you have one..or a boat of some sort. I have a kayak. It’s easy to be socially distant when you’re in the middle of a lake. I doubt I’d be in danger of infecting, or being infected by, a bluegill. Those are all safe things to do if you don’t do them in groups where people are close to each other.
We’ve started discovering and re-discovering parts of our state by taking rides from 1-3 hours buzzing through localities, cities and towns, sometimes getting out to walk a little if it’s not too crowded. Just yesterday we visited the tiny town of Linden, Mich. Seen it on the map but never in person. On our way into town we happened on a great little loop of a trail at park overlooking a lake. There were a few people walking, maybe half a dozen. But the trail was long enough for us to space ourselves sufficiently.
In downtown Linden, such as it was, we were able to pull into a small lot close enough to see the water from the Shiawassee River flow over a little dam without getting out of the car.
From there we headed east to Fenton. It’s larger than Linden with new restaurants and stores, and it also featured a small park and walkway with a view of Shiawassee River water flowing over a small dam, creating as much of a waterfall as we needed to justify a quick photo and this little video.
It was a little more popular than we thought comfortable so we found refuge in the car and began the 45 minute ride home, going through the historic burg of Holly and assorted scenic rural townships. Holly is best known for the Holly Hotel located in Battle Alley. According to legend, the hotel is haunted and that lore has many firm believers to this day.
Prohibitionist Carrie Nation also called Holly home for about six years to wail on the evils of alcohol.
We visit Holly about once a year even during the best of times. We especially enjoy the Battle Alley antique arcade which is in a rambling old house with wonderful creaking wood floors, three levels of any kind of old stuff you either need, don’t need or just want. Oh, you can always count on a plate of fresh cookies sitting on a shelf along the main, cobblestone aisle..there for the grabbing. The windmill cookies are especially tasty.
We’ve done the route between Holly and home many times before only now we took closer notice since the ride wasn’t the route to an activity, but our activity.
As you can see, or not see, I haven’t provided any photos of my own except for the Fenton dam. That’s because I was driving most of the time and snapping photos while driving with my knees would probably be more dangerous than the virus. You would think this predicament might spark faster development of autonomous cars. But the real deal is I just wanted to enjoy the ride and sights and talk about them with my family, taking notice of places we might want to return when it’s safer to get out of the car and explore more thoroughly.
It doesn’t really matter how far you go. A little ride to some place that’s not your driveway or parking space is just the mental break you need to try to maintain some sort of sanity. Besides, gas is cheap right now. Go ahead…filler ‘er up, hit the road, and give your brain a little something more to chew on than a TV or computer screen. Yes..get out of your cabin…and break the fever.
“Take it easy!,” “Take Care!,” “Take it Light!,” “Be Well!,” “Rock On!” We love to kind of wish people well at the end of a communication while at the same ordering them to do so. Sometimes people add these little phrases of mandatory good wishes about our health and general well being because they just nice, sincere people. Others just can’t think of more creative ways to end it. I guess it’s better than just stopping short, or writing, “shit, I’m outta bullets…later!”
Earlier today, just passing the time to socially distance myself from doing actual work, I watched an old George Carlin bit on the Tonight Show during the Johnny Carson era. During his short set Carlin ruminated about people telling him to “have a nice day!” It kind of pissed him off in only the way it could to Carlin. He suggested that perhaps he’d had enough nice days and would be selfish to have any more. Y’know..to leave some nice days for other people.
It got me thinking….
During this awful time we’re in right now almost every communication I’ve received–emails, texts, actual conversations–has ended with “stay safe!” No one bid me to have a nice day, or to take it easy or light or on the chin. One good person wished good health to me and my family…but couldn’t stop there. So..so hard to resist. Yes…the whole thing read, “Health to you and your family my friend……and STAY SAFE!”
It’s actually an appreciated imperative because, I have to admit, I get careless at times and touch my face or forget to wash my hands as thoroughly as I should, or get tempted to sneeze on the person in the produce section of the supermarket who decided it would be a good thing to squeeze every freaking cantaloupe leaving his viral detritus for the rest of us to host…then die..or at least feel really crappy.
Of course, being a native neurotic New Yorker, 55 years removed from my Bar Mitzvah, I must, must think of the down side. Hmm..that well-meaning person bid me to stay safe. What if I wasn’t safe in the first place? That would make the whole thing irrelevant, or at least presumptuous. Should the proper order of safety admonition be, “Get safe!” then the next time you communicate with the person, you give him or her the benefit of the doubt that they did so, then offer some support with “Stay safe!”
What if the person you choose to help survive the pandemic is a safety scofflaw? Ending things with “stay safe!” is a waste of effort since you know they’re gonna blow you off and act like a contagious schmuck. But realistically, you can’t get into a whole give-and-take about whether the person is, or wants to be, safe since you’re just trying to end the damn email so you can move on to binging Ozark.
Still, I like that we’re at least showing concern for our fellow human beings as we all try to avoid being infected with, or spreading, coronavirus.
Well..that’s all I have to say on subject, for now. Can’t think of a snappy ending. So..um…”Get Safe, Stay there… and then HAVE A NICE DAY!”
It may not seem so right now, but on the other side of this pandemic some things will have changed that perhaps should have happened long ago. I conveniently created a short list:
1-The necessity of “going to the office” has been severely challenged. I’ve always looked at offices as petri dishes of cultural bacteria, fomenting time-wasting meetings, gossip, jealousies, clock-watching and commutes that contribute to harmful emissions, wasteful and costly fuel consumption and misuse of valuable time.
Oh sure, there’s the notion of team camaraderie and collaboration, but that can be accomplished much more efficiently and conveniently without forcing employees to spend their days tied to an assigned workspace where they’re sitting ducks for all manner of productivity-sucking distractions. Scheduling regular in-person meet-ups may be sufficient to satisfy the need for a little person-to-person contact and relationship/team building. Working remotely doesn’t mean permanent exile!
Telecommuting isn’t new, of course, however, many companies offer this option as a favor or reward to precious few employees. The fact is, given today’s technology, you can perform almost any task, conduct meetings that include graphics and video and collaborate on projects from any place on Earth with decent web or mobile connectivity.
Now that so many office workers have been forced to do their jobs remotely, a lot of them are finding they’re more productive, less stressed, can manage their time better, saving money on gas and are enjoying a better quality of life. I’m betting that once this crisis is over, bosses should be ready to field a ton of requests to keep working from home, or Starbucks at least most of the time, and it’s about time more office inmates had that option.
Of course…some folks love going to the office to either get away from the house for awhile or just to be with other adults or for the free coffee or whatever. That’s great if it works for you. Here’s hoping businesses that did not previously offer the option of telecommuting will see positive outcomes during this time and make it more available to appreciative employees.
2-Car dealers that rely so much on showroom foot traffic have been forced to rethink its importance as we practice social distancing to help kill off the spread of coronavirus. Who doesn’t dread spending 2,3,4 hours at a dealership from the time you choose your new ride to sitting at the sales person’s little desk, haggling over the price, then pivoting to the finance person’s star chamber where they try to foist extended warrantees, safety and security plans or a dizzying number of finance options. My wife and I excel at this process. We walk in and tell the person, “we’ll make it easy on you. No to everything.” The last guy we did that too just sagged his shoulders while he surrendered saying, “it’s just not gonna be my day.” That was some time into our third or fourth hour.
But now dealers have learned that online vehicle marketplaces are catering to exactly what many consumers want. Do it all online, quickly. To deal with the need to socially distance, a lot of brick and mortar dealers are offering home or office vehicle deliveries, online document signing and even virtual test drives where a “concierge” will give you a tour of the vehicle via Zoom, Skype, Facetime, WebEx, etc. My friends at DriveShift.comwill even have the concierge start the engine so the customer can give it a listen. It’s true, nothing beats a physical test drive and the chance to literally kick the tires, but for some customers, expediency carries the day.
Yes, many dealers have had a long time online presence but not all have made it possible to complete the entire process without a showroom visit. As George Augustaitis, one of my trusted sources of prescient auto industry analysis at CarGurus.com told me the other day for my Forbes.com story, “To me, dealers should be thinking about relationship building, where if you’re online and you have a staff that can answer emails, text messages. I think a lot of this is about producing content. People can watch at home, answering questions online. When people feel like they’re ready to buy their car they’re going to reflect upon the fact that over these many weeks the dealer is always answering my questions, sending me videos, doing these things so I can do my research.”
So that’s just one example. The pandemic has spurred scores of other businesses that have never been involved in e-commerce to jump in and are offering the convenience of remote ordering and delivery which are especially helpful for shut-ins, disabled folks and others who are just really busy or don’t have personal transportation.
3-The whole concept of “social distancing” is one we should have been practicing to some extent anyway. Giving others some space–enough space so whatever nasty stuff is in your cough or sneeze is deprived a landing pad on someone else’s epidermis, is not only smart, but considerate. Honestly, I hate it when I’m in line at the supermarket checkout and the person behind me insists on getting close enough to read the fine print on the booze bottles in my cart to the point where they comment, “Oh yeah..Makers Mark..love the stuff. Just had it for breakfast!” Back off! That’s my lunch you’re talking about..achoo! Got ya.
4-Much of the world has given up on using cash for even the smallest transactions and because of the danger of touching bills that may have been handled by hundreds or thousands of others, the use of credit and debit cards for in-person purchases has increased. That way, you’re the only one who has to handle your method of payment. For those of us codgers who still carry folding money and change, that’s something going into the memory bank as we make the transition. I was dragging my feet. The virus helped me pick up the pace. Perhaps it will do the same for the more of us who still like the feel of cold cash but not the bacterial loot it harbors.
5-This final one is probably the most important. I see more concern between human beings about each other’s welfare. Not just friends and family, but co-workers, acquaintances, even those with whom you have casual contact asking how we’re feeling, and parting with the words, “be safe,” or “stay safe.” I see a degree of unselfishness that’s so heartening. If you browse posts on the Nextdoor app, you will see quite a number of posts where folks volunteer to go to the store, do a little yard work or perform other errands and services for those in tough spots…for free, in many cases. We’ve gotta keep this going even after the worst is over.
So those are just a very few examples of how this terrible time we’re in right now has kickstarted some positive actions and behaviors that should have been in wider practice all along. I bet you can think of others. I’d love to hear about them.
Like billions of people around the world my family and I are trying our best to get through the coronavirus crisis, elbow-bumpin’, hand washin’, sanitizin’ and choking back sneezin’ so as not to get it or spread it.
Of course, this is a serious situation but I always find letting my mind wander a bit helps me cope with tough times, so here goes.
Let me start with something that started with guilt and quickly morphed into a sick moment of entrepreneurial thought. Without getting too clinical, yeah, I was about to use a roll of Charmin the way it’s meant to be used. But as I tore off a few squares I suddenly felt guilty of using what’s become more or less contraband. Fear of long-term quarantine has people scooping up every roll of TP as if two-weeks at home means constant crapping.
Speaking of which, check out this listing on eBay hawking the stuff at 8 bucks…a roll! Some of the comments didn’t hold back on the human sphincter behind the listing.
Moving on..thankfully, I had a scary vision regarding all sports shutting down. We had planned to eat dinner at a popular sports bar. One with dozens of screens all around so you could normally watch hockey, basketball, baseball, golf, soccer, NASCAR, goat roping, ring toss or amateur cherry pit spitting…. all at the same time! With none of those sports, except maybe the pit spitting, off the grid for now, I started shivering in fear I would look up at the walls to see repeats of “The View” and the “Murphy Brown” reboot on every screen. Thankfully, the screens were thoughtfully populated with ESPN sports casts, reruns of key sporting events, and yeah, I think one did have the live broadcast of cherry pit spitting…until one competitor breathed in at an inopportune time and shot the pit into his gullet and had to be given the Heimlich Maneuver. It was fairly exciting and actually have bereft sports bettors something to wager on. His survival was the “under.”
My wife reported to me that eggs were in short supply at the grocery store. Really? It’s not like bread or flour or canned goods. You can’t really stockpile eggs for long. Are people mass-cooking frittatas and freezing them? I dunno. Sounds like a rotten idea.
I know a lot of companies are having their folks work from home. Since I’m semi-retired and mostly freelance I work from home about 99% of the time. If I get sick I figure it’s because I didn’t clean my microwave often enough and whatever’s growing in there is more contagious than “Old Town Road,” but only half as infectious.
Yes, we must be very vigilant to take care we do our parts to stay healthy and considerate during this pandemic. But I don’t let it get me down. In the wise words of Wavy Gravy during Woodstock, “there’s always a bit of heaven in a disaster area.” And probably toilet paper too.
Stay safe and healthy!