Monthly Archives: August 2020

Shorter Brighter Days Ahead (Covid Story #9)

Sun

There are a handful of places my husband and I go nowadays. Grocery store, the drugstore, convenience store (for gas—we venture in on only rare occasions), friends’ backyards, and the occasional winery (outside of course).

Originally—at the beginning, we only ventured as far as our mailbox. Because we didn’t know or understand what the hell was going on, our brains shifted into survivalist mode. In turn, our primitive instincts alerted us to the horrid possibility of viral and veiled threatening air vapors that could very well descend from the sky at any time to claim scared out of our wits bodies.

Those first few weeks were the worst. That first morning? You know the one. The initial time each of us thought “this is really serious.” It’s different timelines for everyone (with the exception of those that believe a crazed lab scientist wanting to wreak havoc on all of mankind created the virus). My own life-as-we-know-it-ending timeline began the morning I told my husband maybe we shouldn’t go out for breakfast. We haven’t been out for breakfast since. We haven’t been out for lunch, dinner, or appetizers either. Instead, much later in the game, we began getting takeout.

Within a few weeks, our youngest daughter traveled back from her newly adopted city bringing her 11-year-old puppy dog. Although furloughed from her job, she didn’t want to leave, but family wanted her home. She lived with our oldest daughter and husband and our other grand-pup for over three months. At the time we all thought things might get back to semi-normal in the coming weeks. We were wrong. 

Eventually, we did what we humans do best, we acclimated. But acclimating during this point in our history translates into something like descending virtual flights of stairs. Some travel further down than others, but all the same, our descent is real. And after a while it’s hard to tell how far we’ve gone. Because we grow used to the place we’ve landed.

After a few months of groping in the suffocating darkness that has enveloped all of us, my husband and I discovered our perimeters. Like newly mobile toddlers, we ventured out. Instead of ordering everything from grocery delivery services, we donned our masks and stepped into the fully lit grocery store. Instead of depending upon mail order companies for shampoos, cleaning supplies, or hand sanitizer, we walked through the automatic doors of our local drugstore and purchased sundry items. We still scrub our hands each time we come home, but we understand how much we need to go—traveling even a short distance— to see people and find that there is a world out there beyond our mailbox.

The first time we visited our daughters we were still in the mailbox only mode. Sensing our anxiety, our kids sat in chairs in their front lawn. Each armed with their own puppy dog, they sat holding homemade signs; hearts carved in red markers—“We can get through this!” written in large block lettering. We remained in our car and shouted to them encouraging memes—“This will be over in no time! We’re okay! Stay safe!”

It wasn’t over in ‘no time.’ But, baby step by baby step we started ascending the flights of stairs slowly out of the dark. By the time our daughter went back to her as she phrases it ‘home,’ we were holding court in each other’s backyards, celebrating the 4th of July in style (eating catered bbq), and playing croquet as we practiced social distancing and creative dining.

We both enjoy time with friends as we sit outside at various wineries and breweries. However, we still won’t eat out, not even on a restaurant patio, but we order takeout and watch TV as our hometown baseball team plays to an empty stadium (with the exception of cardboard cutout people).

Our baby steps have hurled us into this new world with an unavoidable viciousness. The coping mechanisms vary per situation. For example, I have several themed face masks, each worn to match the mood of the day. The bright white flowered mask  is becoming my favorite. I refer to it as “Steel Magnolia.”

More and more each day, my mood is beginning to transcend the original dark cavernous emotion I wore when all this started. With the days shortening and night descending earlier each evening, my anticipation increases – allowing that eventually—perhaps when the daylight wains the soonest, our world will be the brightest again.

A Virtually Impossible Meeting (Covid Story #8)

woman having video call
Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

Hello, Tessa!

Hey, Allen! How’s it going?

Great! How are you doing?

I’m doing all right. Just a lot going on.

I know. So… is everybody all right? I mean, there?

Yeah. Why?

You, uh… have your face mask on.

Oh, that. Damn. I just came from the store. It’s gotten to the point that I get confused. It’s like—am  I in a… well… friendly environment? OR am I in enemy territory?

Enemy territory?

Yeah, I don’t mean, like, people are in the produce aisle hiding behind fake plants while they’re wearing combat helmets. I just mean, you know, things are crazy!

Yeah, I get it.

Where is everybody? I thought this was a mandatory meeting.

It is. As was the meeting this morning at 10:00 a.m., the meeting at 11:30, then the lunch meeting. Yep, mandatory.

Hey, Allen! Tessa! What’s up?

Not much, Dan. What’s that behind you?

That’s my background, boss. You like it?

What is it? It looks like some kind of ship from outer space.

Yeah, Tessa. It’s a new feature. It’s called Beam Me Up, Scotty. Where is everybody? Hey, I hear Newman wrote an OpEd for the paper. It’s called: Why a Pandemic Now?

What does that mean, exactly?

Well, Allen, I guess he’s pissed. His wedding is on hold, his cruise is on hold, and his sewer backed up costing him a fortune.

What’s his sewer got to do with anything?

Nothing, Tessa. He’s just pissed so he’s blaming everything that’s happening on the present situation.

They’re not printing his article, are they?

Yeah, Allen, I guess they are. The paper said they needed a different slant on all the bad news. I don’t think HE meant for the column to be funny, but the editors thought it was a scream.

That’s great. All the shit going on right now and Newman is complaining about his sewer and a cruise he can’t take.

Well, Tessa, you might do the same if—

Hey, you guys! Where is everybody?

Hey, Heather. See you made it back in to work, today.

What are you talking about, Dan?

Well, last night at Vanity Bar and Grill? You were a little… crazy.

Okay everyone. I think we have enough staff to start the meeting. Dan, do you have those numbers—

Hey everybody! How’s it going?

Hello, Sam. We were just getting started.

Hey, sorry. I had a meeting that went a little longer than it should have. Have I missed anything?

Just the fact that Heather is here after—

Dan was about to—Dan? Where did he go? He literally just said something to you, Heather.

I don’t know, Allen, but I think I see little green men going into his spaceship. Maybe he was abducted.

Not funny, Tessa. Okay…  We’ll just move on. Tessa, please report on your findings regarding—

Well, Allen, my most recent report indicates—

Okay, okay, sorry. Wait, I’m not sorry. Jesus! Have you ever been in a conference with that guy Carter? He’s from the Omaha office. He can drone on and on…

Hello Matt. We were just going over Tessa’s report. Tessa? Can you continue?

I don’t have a copy of the agenda. You never sent it to me. Wait, found it! Sorry, I threw it in the Amalgamated Products File – that agenda was lame.

Tessa, for some reason you’ve changed over to mute. No one can hear you. I’m pointing to the mute button, do you understand?

Sorry Allen, I haven’t eaten since this morning with all these meetings. My brain is a little foggy. Can you hear me now? I hear some kind of smacking noises.

Sorry, I was hungry. Dashed over to the cabinet and got some chips. We can eat during this meeting, can’t we Allen. You’re not one of those virtual overlords, are you?

Dan, can you stop making those smacking noises? They’re gross!

Where’s Tessa?

Sorry, I grabbed a protein bar out of the cabinet. Dan’s making me hungry with his chips.

Dan, you’re back. Can we go back to your numbers on the… Cynthia, when did you load in? Is that a cat?

Yes! This is Horatio! Say hi Horatio!

Cynthia, please stop waving the cat’s paw and put him down for a minute.

OMG! Who’s that?

What? What? What?

Did anyone just see that Chat Box text? The one that says it’s time to party?

Wait! Did you see that? Who is that guy?

I don’t know, but what is he wearing?

A mask. A real honest to goodness mask! Like Batman or something! And a cape!

Okay, okay.  Apparently, we’ve been Virtually Bombed. Hey, whoever you are, you need to leave.

I’ve got this, Allen. Just give me a second, dude. I have my mouth full of chips. There… –Hey, fella, I just took your photo. You’re toast. I just happen to have advanced face recognition skills on this baby.

Sorry, Allen, I have to get the door. There’s a package of frozen tilapia from that really good market along the coast and if I don’t get it—

Go ahead, Matt. Get your tilapia.

Dan! I’ve made you a sandwich!

You’re living with your mom?

Yeah, why, Heather?

So, that’s why you left Vanity early. Your mom gave you a curfew!

That’s not why I left early. I had an early morning today. Needed to be at about two dozen meetings starting at 7 am.

Is that someone cutting your hair, Sam?

Yeah, I asked my hairdresser to stop by. Sorry, Allen, I had to grab an appointment with her whenever I could. She’s really popular right now.

Okay. We were discussing Dan’s numbers. And Tessa, you are up after Dan with your report. Heather, are you on another meeting right now?

Umm. Not sure what you mean, Allen.

You have one of those decorative mirrors behind you. I can see your propped up I-Pad.

Oh, that? You’re right. That’s just a meeting for “Marvelous Yummy Gourmet.”

“For what?”

Marvelous Yummy Gourmet! Geez! Don’t tell me you haven’t heard of them? They are only the fastest growing prepared food product distributorships in the whole world! I’m a dealer. I have parties? So, we are having our weekly regional meeting right now and—

Shut it down.

Shut it down? Allen, I can’t just leave my team hanging!

Heather, close your I-Pad now or—Whoever is sitting right by a train right now, can you mute your computer?

Oh, sorry it’s me! I just moved and I live by trtpgbmlkjwzx…

Okay, I can’t understand anything you’re saying. Mute your button, man!

Hey, Allen? I have another meeting in about five minutes. Can we speed this up?

Yeah, me too, Allen.

Allen, my mom thinks you’re cute.

Okay. Let’s reschedule.