Lessons Learned

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We interrupt this pandemic to bring you an important blog.

In my COVID-19 inspired travels to procure sundry necessities at odd hours of the day so that I can keep one step ahead of hoarders and their ever-changing agendas—seriously, certain potato chips are harder to find than toilet paper—I learned an uncomfortable truth.

The government and the CDC are not telling us everything we need to know.

It’s true. Specifically, social distancing has not been adequately defined, and several times today, I found my knowledge to be woefully inaccurate. Luckily, there were people, unknown and unsung heroes, who were willing to teach me by example.

Thank you all so much. I vow to pass on your wisdom.

Item the first: Banking. As I sat for 20-plus minutes, the third car in a line of who knows how many, I learned the first of several important lessons. An important part of flattening the curve to contain the outbreak is to notice when the overworked teller needs to be blessed with an oral account of your life and the history of your banking.

Yet there I was, with all of my checks and paperwork neatly clipped together so I could get my business done as quickly as possible and get out of the way of everyone else. What an insensitive fool I’ve been, depriving these workers who are apparently starved for the meaningless banalities of my life. Forgive my ignorance and my lack of sharing just to move the line along.

I’m ashamed.

YA Author Tom Hoover on Lessons Learned in the PandemicItem the second: Grocery stores. Another area where I’ve fallen short. I hadn’t realized that one of the keys to social distancing is to move slowly, embrace the feeling of suffocation the mask offers, pretend that I am the only person in the store. Thank you, unknown patron, for showing me the beauty of fondling every single piece of produce with your ungloved hands and parking your cart in such a way that no one could get past and accidentally orbit your personal space.

I foolishly would have stayed to one side, only touched what I was going to buy, and moved along quickly. Now I can only weep over my mistakes. And to that end…

Thank you, trendsetting couple who opened my eyes to the truth of shopping lists. Before today, I had always assumed that this was merely a tally of the items I needed. Now I know that it is actually prompts to spark discussion and debate between you and your shopping partner. Because really, how could anyone really, truly know if it was better to purchase chips and dip separately or to trust the sour cream and onion flavoring. There were tactile and sensory differences to contend with that absolutely could not be discussed anywhere else.

I and the several people in the one-way aisle behind you, learned so, so very much. It was so worth the heat and the sweat and the blindingly anxious fear of catching the disease because we could not escape in either direction and wash or sanitize.

And thank you for not cheapening our experience with an apology for holding us up. Or noticing us at all in your journey.

Before today I honestly believed part of my service to humanity was to think about others and do my part to make the world a better, safer, and more unselfish place.

Thank you all for setting me straight.

I will go and do likewise.

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