Overall, I consider myself a positive person. I think that's a fair thing to say. So it may surprise you to hear when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, I've had moments of, well, crankiness.
I've reached the enviable age of "having to visit doctors a lot more" (no worries, I'm fine). I remember my first week of my regular visit. Fought for a parking place in the hospital parking lot. Entered the front door, passed dozens of people going in and out, found the elevator, went up to the section, stood at check-in desk and, well, checked in. Signed twice with electronic pen and pad. They slapped a wristband ID on me (I assume so they didn't accidentally mix me up with another patient). I thought, in the words of friend of mine from church, "this gettin' old isn't for sissies."
A couple of more weeks, a couple of more visits (yeah, it's a weekly thing, but no worries, I'm fine. Honest). I've noticed it is gradually getting easier to find a parking spot. The people coming in and out are fewer. But as I walk through the front entrance, I am greeted by a smiling, happy young lady who asked where I was going, was I feeling okay, did I travel anywhere, and would I please help myself to a squirt of sanitizer. I replied 'yes, no, of course" to the last three and proceeded to the elevator. Signed in and got my wristband ID (whew).
The next week, parking was a breeze (I'm almost by the front door!). I was greeted by another smiling, happy young lady who happened to wear a mask. She asked me the same questions-- where was I going, health, travels, and invitation to the squirt. Up the elevator, but this time, the check in desk had me stand back before signing the pad. And no wrist ID (but what if they mistake me for another patient?).
Yet another week, with piece of cake parking, and maybe one or two people going in or out. The greeter sounded like she was smiling and happy and maybe young, but I couldn't tell, because she was covered head to toe in what looked like an oversized surgical gown, gloves, and a mask. Questions. Squirt. And at the check in desk, the pad was situated on a cart, well away from the check-in desk. And no ID, which I was actually okay with, because I figured they knew me by now. After all, I'm the only one ON THE ENTIRE FLOOR WITHOUT A MASK AND GLOVES!
So, why do I suffer from bouts of crankiness? I think it's this "new normal." I dislike that phrase because this is not normal.
Don't get me wrong. It is heartwarming to see our neighbors--or at least their eyes (because, you know, masks) and their compassion to one another. I can't remember a time when people have been so nice to each other, so understanding, so comforting and helpful. Well, there was 9-11, where we pulled together in an incredibly strong way, holding one another and....ummm, but we can't do any holding right now. No hugs, handshakes, or high-fives. Just kind words. At a distance. Maybe do a chore or run an errand. But don't get too close.
I'm thrilled that the church is stepping up and stepping out (within social distancing guidelines) to help others. And we have taken advantage of a plethora of technology to hold services and meetings. It is good to keep people connected with the Word. I applaud it--I really do. But I'm sorry, it's just not the same. Yeah, it's the (cough) "new normal." But the fact that some of you are more concerned about that cough just now instead of the fact that a public health crisis has forced us to sit apart and watch a service on our computer screens illustrates the point that none of this is "normal" (for the record, the cough was fake. I'm fine, really. After all, I visit the doctor. A lot).
I'm watching split screen newscasts with half the anchors and reporters coming to us live from their webcams in their living rooms with the breaking news of the day. And what is the breaking news of the day? Coronavirus is not only worse than we thought, but it will last longer than we thought. And we hear it. Every. Single. Day. But then comes the fun part, in which they do human interest stories about happy people happily adjusting to their happy restrictions during the "new normal."
But it's not "normal."
Yes, I like the stories. I like the creativity. As I mentioned, I like the human kindness. I think one of the best things that has come out of this shutdown has been the memes. And generally being a positive person, I do my best to walk on the proverbial sunny side of the street.
But I want "normal" back. Improved normal, fine. But "new normal?" Not so much.
As I left the hospital after my last visit, I passed the greeter. I thanked her for her work and wished her wellness and safety. I assumed she was smiling and happy and young (I couldn't tell for sure because of her gear), but the way her eyes crinkled up, I think her smile may have grown a little more. I helped myself to another squirt of hand sanitizer.
That should be normal.
At least the kind words.
In all seriousness, the current epidemic is serious. And while there is a lot we do not know, it helps to practice what we do know. So please, stay home if you can, respect space between people, don't touch your face, wash your hands often and frequently, and let's get through this together.