New Normal

April 10th, 2020

I read the news. It’s a disgusting habit, a true vice. It’s like being hooked on political pornography. I read the latest report about COVID-19 crisis with utter dismay, and then I then eagerly read another one. I try to ignore the obvious lies coming from our Federal government, but I get caught up in the surrounding noise and confusion. Nobody is really in charge, and nobody seems to know what will happen next. Many of our leaders are just making this shit up as they go. I think of one leader in particular.

That one leader is bound and determined to get the national economy running full bore as soon as possible. He wants everything to go back to normal. I think most people want that. The question is: What is “normal” going to look like? It’s not going to look anything like it did back in February. We will have a “new normal”, and that might be pretty weird.

I think back to my childhood. When I was at Franklin Elementary School, we would have occasional fire drills. The bells would ring, the kids would momentarily freak out, and then the teacher would line us up to go outside to the playground. We would stand around until the “all clear”, and then the teacher would sweetly tell us,

“Now, class, we are going back to our room to continue working on our math assignments.”

We did. We all went back to our desks and wrestled with numbers for a while. Life went on as if nothing had happened.

I think that is what our leader imagines will happen once the crisis ends. He expects that everybody will go back to their seats and work on their assignments.

Probably not.

I also think back to my childhood and remember playing musical chairs. I hated that party game. It always seemed sadistic. When the music stopped somebody was always left standing. I see this happening in the work place once the lockdown is over. People will rush back to their seats, and some of those seats won’t be there any more. There may be new and different seats available, but many of the old, comfortable ones will be gone forever. It may be a rough transition.

Many people, especially people like me, do not change their habits easily. I have to be forced to change. Well, right now, like millions of other people, I am being forced to change the way I do things. Once I alter my habits, it is likely that they remain changed. I doubt that I will go back to doing things the old way. I will not be the only person in that situation.

By necessity many people have gone to buying products online since the lockdown began. Even curmudgeons like myself have used the Internet to make purchases. Are we going to go back to driving to retail outlets when we can easily buy things from home, and have them delivered to us? Many big box stores were teetering on the edge of bankruptcy prior to the arrival of the COVID-19 virus. Are they going to to open back up? Are those retail jobs going to come back?

I can ask the same questions about restaurants, coffee shops, and gyms. Are these places going to be profitable now that people have learned that they don’t need them?

Will the people working from home go back to their offices? Are offices, to some extent, now obsolete?

What about churches and other places of worship? Once people getting out of the habit of participating in daily or weekly services, will they go back to them?

I don’t think that we are truly aware of it yet, but there has been a seismic shift in how we function as a society. We aren’t going back to the old way of doing things. We can’t.




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