Back to Normal
In my part of the world, we have endured over two months of lockdowns, quarantines, closings, reopenings, shortages, runs on toilet paper, Clorox, Lysol, hand sanitizer, alcohol -not the drinking kind – and so on.
In a nutshell… things have really gotten crazy!
And just about everyone, common people, rich people, kings, queens, governors, politicians – everyone is clamoring to get back to normal.
But not me.
I’m an old guy and I won’t live long enough to revisit these times through the lens of history. And though I’ll never see it, I’d certainly love to know how history will view us and judge us as the novel coronavirus fades into vaccination oblivion (hopefully) and the world gets back to “normal”
Back to normal?
Do I really want to get back to normal? Not that I think the world is ever going to get back to normal in my lifetime. And it’s not like I’m planning to drop off any time soon. But I’ll tell you what, if we never got back to normal it would be too soon for me.
I’m one old guy who is really glad we are never going to get back to normal… at least not in my lifetime.
Some “food” for thought…
When I look back at what we once considered “normal”, I wonder how normal ever got to be such a crazy place. Were we so cavalier about the invisible microbial world? Were we really germ deniers?
I think back on life as it was a few months ago and I think about going into a restaurant and sitting down, opening a menu that had probably never been sanitized or even cleaned – a menu touched by a thousand fingers — no doubt many of them unwashed — and I never gave it a thought.
“I’ll have the chicken breast, baked potato, green beans, and the salad bar. And to drink I’ll have unsweetened iced tea. Thanks”, I say, handing the germy menu back to the waitress who may have not washed her hands for her entire shift.
I get up and waddle over to the salad bar where all kinds of goodies await. There’s a stainless steel container of lettuce mix with tongs sticking up out of it. There are containers of cottage cheese, shredded cheese, coleslaw, banana peppers, chopped onions, French dressing (I like to call French dressing – undressing – ooh, la la, you know the French!), bleu cheese dressing, ranch dressing, Italian dressing, and thousand island dressing, pineapple chunks, butterscotch pudding, chocolate pudding, and fruit cocktail.
Every container in the salad bar has a big silvery spoon sticking out of it so us salad-bar patrons can scoop up the contents and glom as much of whatever it is onto our salad plate(s).
Looking back, I wonder how many germ-filled hands grasped those big spoons, how many nose-picking digits alit upon those big silver handles, how many patrons sneezed and coughed their way through the salad-building process… and all those aerosolized droplets spewed forth from anonymous noses and mouths now clinging to all those serving spoons and scoops.
Oblivious to those thoughts at the time, I returned to my table, grabbed the salt and pepper shakers, all, I now know, crawling with bacteria, viruses, and dirt — and shake a dash on my overflowing salad plate.
I pick up my fork, which I blissfully imagined having been sterilized in boiling hot dishwasher water laced with germ-killing dishwasher soap. But never did I ever think about the un-gloved, dirty, bacteria, and virus-laden hands that wrapped my silverware into its pristine-looking paper-napkin cacoon.
As I write this, I realize I’m about to vomit, I mean it. I now have all these disgusting images dancing through my head – and intermixing with the overwhelming amount of conflicting COVID-19, “you say yes, I say no” data stuffed into my weary, but still-not-senile (knock on wood), brain.
Maybe I’m the rule not the exception. Did you ever think about this kind of stuff BEFORE the novel coronavirus knocked us silly and out of our complacency? Did you think about all the slimy, putrid, dirty hands that had caressed those ubiquitous ketchup bottles that once sat upon the tables in almost every restaurant?
Yes, I know that ketchup is frowned upon in those five-star joints, but nevertheless those five-star places have caviar spoons, individual sweetie-silver teapots, crystal glasses, and other things us normal folks seldom see or get to touch. But you can bet on one thing: those uppity people use things that are just as full of germs and viral particles as the ketchup bottle in the eateries of the common folk. AND… those fancy places always have nine forks – so you have nine times the chance to expose yourself a lot of dirty filthy germs.
I don’t think I could ever go back to a salad bar — or worse – a buffet-style restaurant without losing my lunch at the door. And it’s not just the coronavirus, it’s just all the little nasties too small to be seen that crawl upon the things we touch every single day.
Other than taking my walks almost every day, I’ve left my house maybe six times in seven weeks to buy groceries and pick up prescriptions, and run other suicide missions.
Yes, when I buy groceries, I do wear a mask – but I don’t know why because no one else in my little town does. And when I get home, I have a bench in my garage. It’s my grocery sanitizing and wipe-down station. All the groceries I tote home get sprayed with 3% hydrogen peroxide and then wiped down with very clean towels.
Then I wash my hands – for twenty seconds – at least.
I used to wash my hands after using the bathroom and before eating. Now I’m washing my hands at least twenty times a day. I wash them so much that the skin is starting to peel off the back of my wrists. I can’t walk by a bar or bottle of liquid soap without washing my hands.
When I’m not washing my hands, I’m using hand sanitizer. I buy hand sanitizer whenever and wherever I can find it. I keep some in the car, the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom – there’s even a bottle sitting right next to my computer.
I’ve gone from a nonchalant, uncaring, cavalier, devil-may-care germ-denier, to super germophobe so as I think by now, My fear of all things microbial now rival the legendary germophobia of the famous aviator, industrialist, movie-maker, and nutjob, Howard Hughes. And yes, I still miss TWA.
So, when people say they want to get back to normal, it makes me nauseous — I feel sick. I imagine salt and pepper shakers, ketchup bottles, salad bars, germ-laden silverware, gasping salad bar customers wheezing their misty germ-laden droplets of mucus into the cottage cheese.
I imagine buffets, replete with self-serve ice cream machines, drink machines and hundreds of long silver spoons and scoopers sticking up out of all those billowing basins of cold and warm food… and every single one of those scoopers and spoons teeming with trillions of germs and viruses from the hundreds of unwashed hands and fingers of hundreds of hungry people who I don’t know.
So when will we get back to normal? Never, I hope.