During my childhood, our days had a rhythm. There were cast-in-stone days for every single one of our activities. My father worked Monday to Friday from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm. Before driving home, he would call to see if Mom needed anything from the store and if she did, he would pick it up on his way.
Regular shopping could be done Monday to Friday, between 10 am and 6 pm. Special shopping (for items that required trying-on) happened during the one day a week when extended-hours were in place … closing happened at 9:00 pm on Fridays… and if we needed Dad to come along, we went on Saturday, open 10am – 2 pm.
We eight kids went to school from 9 am – 3 pm; all extra-curricular activities and most doctor appointments and the like, happened during the 2 hours after school got out. We were always home by 5 and devoured our dinner at 6pm. Saturday mornings were for chores and we all trooped to Confession after lunch. Saturday nights we watched TV or played games. Sunday… Mass at 8:30 am, of course, a bacon & eggs breakfast prepared by Dad afterwards, and a BIG dinner in the evening. The hours in between were for whatever we wanted to do. Sundays we had our downtime
Such a prescribed, structured way of life seems unthinkable now. We are used to doing what we need or want to do during many different time periods… day or night. But COVID 19 has changed all that hasn’t it?
Finding a “new normal” is what we are challenged to do. As much as I felt hemmed in during my girlhood, I believe a structured and staggered timetable (that would allow the community to take care of all their needs in a socially distanced way) is one viable alternative. What do I mean by this?
For starters, most of those who have been working from home are in no hurry to return full time to the office. The online method is working well; so why can’t it continue? Of course most employers and clients need some real time interaction with the worker bees. This could be scheduled but it does not all need to happen during the same time as everyone else’s appointments. If we could set up our meetings during hours when there are lulls in traffic and public transportation, there would be less vehicle congestion, people making lines and so on. Social distancing would be easier and infection would go down. The same could be done with school; families could have the option of partial school attendance. Some courses are totally adaptable to online delivery. Day care could go back into the hands of family or trusted friends.
Without an inflexible work or school schedule, shopping and other errands or appointments could happen during non-peak periods. People could book store times, and stores could stay open less hours a day. We would gain service-oriented interaction and get rid of the impulse, market-driven shopping culture that is currently in place. And why not go back to having Sunday as “a day of rest”?
Sure, all this would require re-thinking the rhythm of our days. But I think most of us understand by now that the world as we knew it will not come back. There are alternatives and actually once we get ourselves organized, they won’t be hard to take.
Something that will surely go go by the wayside are most huge gatherings, concerts and events. But would it be a bad thing to attend fewer but more intimate get-togethers, shows and congresses? When I think about it, large parties are not my preference anymore. Many sporting events could be pay-per-view. I think players would welcome a saner number of games per season.
For the occasions when we MUST expose ourselves to crowds, we could have a “suit” I plan to purchase two disposable painters’ coveralls that I will wear on my flights from Mexico to Canada. When I leave each airport I will take off my used mask and coveralls and put on fresh ones. I hope by doing this, I won’t be hauling any Coronavirus from one country to another.
*Note to enterprising designers: Why don’t you make up some attractive, more comfortable “sanitary safety suits”? I think they’d sell well…
Every scary circumstance that challenges us now can be resolved if we open up to the idea of doing so.
I have been pouring all my energy into keeping COVID 19 far away, and believe me, I don’t want o get sick. But the pandemic is our reality right now and for the next year or so… at least. The future depends on our inventiveness and willingness to change.
Tell me what you think…