Well, this is no fun.
That’s what a buddy said to me more than 30 years ago when our hands were on the hood of a squad car while a highly agitated Florida cop decided whether or not we would spend the rest of Spring Break in jail for an incident I would rather not discuss, since I am not familiar with the statute of limitations in the Sunshine State.
In the end, we got off with a stern warning.
That’s what I hope we get out of this mess we’re all in now, a stern warning — to treasure our time with family members when we can, to fix our health-care system, to protect our planet, to appreciate the sacrifices of others and — you may have heard about this last one a few times — to wash our hands.
The advice is to wash them as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice,” or, to be on the safe side, as long as it takes to hum the Iron Butterfly classic “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” in its entirety if you have 17 minutes to spare and enough soap.
I’m adjusting to working at home. I’m not bored, with all the handwashing and humming I’m doing. It’s the guilt and uncertainty and worry that are getting to me.
I don’t want to work from home right now. It makes me feel I am not doing enough. But experts tell us we must if we can. With technology, I can do most of my job from where I sit right now without breathing on anyone. We are not shirking our responsibilities, those experts tell us newly minted teleworkers, but helping save lives.
Many of my family and friends, though, don’t have that luxury. They work in hospitals, in local government, in law enforcement, in the prison system, in child-care centers, in restaurants and grocery stores. They are on the front lines in this war. I don’t feel like I’m much of a war correspondent reporting on it from home.
But we’re battling a new and stealthy enemy. Is that tickle in my throat from pollen or plague? If I am less than six feet away from a reporter when I yell at him is he in danger? (Note: I don’t yell at reporters — that often).
And then there is the uncertainty and worry. My dad is in his mid-70s. He underwent a heart procedure not too long ago. My kid is in a metropolitan area where the numbers of coronavirus cases far surpass those here in the foothills.
There is a temptation to gather all our loved ones around us and hunker down. The hunkering is fine, the gathering is not.
Today I dropped some trash bags, paper towels and detergent at a family member’s door. I didn’t go in. We talked by phone. It wasn’t long ago that “social distancing” was an odd-sounding term.
Other than dropping off groceries and checking in from afar, about all I can do right now is make sure my newspaper gets out and the website is updated so people who depend on us and trust us get accurate information. With media companies announcing furloughs, pay cuts and even layoffs as ad money dries up, that is going to be harder to do. But we will get it done.
Stay safe, everyone. Thank you for reading my columns. Thanks to many of you for reaching out and letting me know you enjoy them and appreciate a laugh or two during these times. Not much laughter in this one, but we’ll get back to monkey news and such nonsense eventually.
As my buddy said those decades ago, this no fun. But we’ll have fun again. And remember to wash your hands.