What a year this month has been, right? We wake up, hoping it was all a bad dream. But it isn’t.
I’ve had more interactions with viewers and readers than at any time in years. Some have been fruitful and productive.
And then there was this.
Caller: “What did you say on TV about those flushable wipes?”
Me: “Please don’t flush those disposable wipes. They could cause sewer back-ups.”
Caller: “But it says on here on the label, flushable wipes.”
Me: “Yeah, but the water company says they don’t disintegrate well.”
Caller: “So...you’re saying don’t flush flushable wipes?”
Or this e-mail:
“You’re lying about the number of confirmed cases in our local hospital.
Me: “I can only report what the officials tell us.”
Viewer: “Do you ever ask?”
Me: “Every single day.”
Viewer: “Then find a way.”
Me: “The hospital won’t let me wander into the ICU, snooping around every patient, nurse, and doctor.”
Viewer: “Well, I’ll find a reporter who will.”
Yes, a crisis brings out the worst in some people.
Maybe you’ve seen the video of a pizza pick-up customer who storms up to the counter, demanding to know why he can’t wait inside the restaurant instead of curbside.
Or perhaps you’ve seen folks grabbing toilet paper out of other people’s shopping carts.
In some cases, they’re the same people who yell at a cashier because there’s no bread on the shelves. Inside tip: It’s not the cashier’s fault.
On the other hand, some of us are doing a splendid job of maintaining our sense of humor. Like the store with the big sign at the entrance: “PLEASE EXCUSE THE LACK OF TOILET PAPER. WE ARE WIPED OUT.”
Let’s not overlook how a crisis also brings out our best.
I’ve seen the staff at a preschool for children with hearing impairments making homemade medical masks.
There’s the pizza restaurant donating meals for kids in need.
Other restaurants are delivering to truckers who can’t squeeze their big rigs into the drive through.
Teachers are doing exercises, wearing costumes, or creating contests to connect with their students through the computer screens.
In so many ways, this crisis is all about education. We are learning so much.
Should we trust the doctors, or the politicians?
That’s an easy one for me. Let’s deal with the crisis at hand. Let’s help our neighbors and friends whose jobs have been cut back or eliminated.
Let’s focus on our health, and the risks we shouldn’t be taking. We can worry about the politics later.
Our parents and grandparents often told us about growing up in the Great Depression and why they could never be wasteful, even late in life when they were financially secure.
That can in the pantry, with a “use by (today’s date)” on the label? It’s good for a few more months.
Will we be more careful about using two paper towels when just one will do the job?
I hope so.
Remember when teenagers were praying school would be out for a day, or even better, a week or two?
Now they’re grieving the loss of literal “face time” with their friends.
The laughs, the smiles, the shared experiences that endure for decades. Not to mention the state tournament, the prom, and saddest of all, graduation.
One senior wrote to me, “I never thought I’d say this, but I miss the classroom.”
The pot of gold at the end of that long rainbow may truly disappear.
Many ministers are learning how to spread the gospel without actually seeing the congregation in person.
Gone, for now, are the days when a visiting preacher could startle a sleeping Gomer Pyle out of his Sunday morning slumber.
There are so many events postponed or canceled.
The saddest for me? Halie Forstner’s 109th birthday party.
In case you’ve missed my stories about this Chattanooga treasure, she is sharp as a tack, very mobile, and her hearing is better than mine (admittedly, not a very high bar).
How many chances does one get for a 109th birthday party?
Of course, that has been said about all her birthdays since number 85.
Talk about a tough American: she has outlived every virus, disease, and plague since 1911. So we will give her some space, and celebrate at the appropriate time.
Just remember: We’re all in this together. We’re Americans. We got this!
We’re washing our hands, we’re checking on our neighbors, and we’re staying strong spiritually. We’ll come back, because that is what Americans do!
The secret to getting past this crisis is simple. Staying apart will help us remain together.
I have only two more obstacles to overcome. Remembering the day of the week (is it “Raid the Freezer Day” or “Maybe I Should Shower Day?”) and practicing safe distancing.
My wife just told me I needed to stay six feet away…from the fridge. Thank goodness for curbside takeout.