Things the pandemic has taught me

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For two long years I have been waiting for the negative folks to finally announce that the pandemic, that free-reign ride of the Corona Virus, is ended. They have not done that, but they have conceded that for now it is on the downswing and that is enough to cause me to raise my head over the top of the rifle pit I have been hiding in during this war and take a look around.

Now, as serious as this time has been, I don’t want anyone to think I am trying to make fun of the very real grief and misery that has been caused, but if I can’t have a little fun at the expense of the worst disease spread in 100 years, then how could I possibly make it through? And I learned so much I’d like to share with you.

I learned that people really believe that old adage about age bringing wisdom. As one of the oldest people in my group, I frequently found myself the recipient of nervous questions, the most common of which was, “Do you remember any other time that was as bad as this?” My answer was to shrug my shoulders, because I doubt if they would have enjoyed me shouting at them, “Do I really look old enough to have survived World War I and the Spanish Flu? Of course I don’t remember a time as bad as this any more than you do!” I learned that I am irritated easily when I am locked indoors for long periods of time, with a deadly disease as the wolf at the door.

I learned that it is possible for me to function in a variety of situations with a piece of cloth strapped across my face like a diaper. I have a new respect for doctors and nurses, who live like this their entire professional lives. I had two years of wearing a mask to teach school, buy groceries and pay bills. I became very aware of people’s noses…so many went through the aggravation of the mask, while leaving their noses (the place where the virus could easily be breathed in) uncovered. Tell the truth, when you were forced to wear one of those masks, didn’t you ever want to slap that offending nose hanging out on someone else’s face, back into its mask? Hike up them masks, folks and put that nose in lock-up with the rest!

I learned that it IS possible to watch Harry Potter and Star Trek too much. By the time something new appeared on television or in the movies, I was so familiar with Harry Potter, I dreamed that he asked me to marry him…and Captain Jean Luc Picard of the starship Enterprise conducted the ceremony! I, who am unfailingly entertained by the television and especially by science fiction and fantasy, was sick of “space, the final frontier” and Hogwarts to boot!

I learned that I will never again hear someone cough and sneeze without instinctively holding my breath and covering my face with my hands, gloves, shirt, piece of toilet paper–whatever is at hand. I am terrified of choking on something in a public place–not because I’m afraid of the choking, oh no! I’m afraid others will think I have been so selfish as to appear in public with corona! “Forgive me, I don’t have corona,” I want to assure them, “no, really, I was just choking on this chicken bone, but I’m alright now that I’ve hacked it up and torn up my throat. All good here!”

I learned that it is possible to do a lot of things remotely. You can set up that class, that meeting, that business interview–all from the privacy of your own home, provided the camera doesn’t pick up on the fact that you are still wearing your pajama pants and hopefully your child isn’t doing a naked dance with the flour bag in the background! Computers were the safety net of this storm and I for one, learned a lot about them that I didn’t know before!

I’ve learned that when they use the word “pandemic” the duration is not weeks or months. A pandemic means you are in it for the long haul–two years and counting. In our child-like innocence, we believed that if we stayed indoors for a month, the virus would magically disappear and instead it rolled over us like a dark cloud of deadly locusts.

I sanitized my groceries and put gas in my car, using plastic bags over my hands. I washed down desks and sang songs to myself to make certain I washed my hands long enough to make all the little virus germs die. I learned how to open doors with my feet and shake hands with people using my elbows. I refrained from embracing anyone but my husband for a whole year, and I worried about him sometimes.

It has not been a fun two years, but it has certainly been an educational one. I learned so much about the human condition–some good and some not so good. I loved the people who delivered groceries for the elderly and I laughed at the videos that people made to try and find the humor and the warmth in the enforced isolation. I marveled at the people who believed that refusing to believe in the virus kept it away from them…until it didn’t and I rejoiced with those who beat the illness when it came knocking at their doors.

Do I hope that this is the worst pandemic I ever see? Of course I do! But if another one should come in my lifetime, I will remember that the human spirit endures some amazing things, as this two years has shown…and perhaps that is the most important thing I learned.

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