It seems to me that we humans are very adaptable.
That was the subject of several conversations I’ve had recently with folks of varying ages and walks of life. The gist of these encounters has been that this present crisis has caused everyone to make adjustments in what has been their regular lifestyles with some of these being dramatic changes. But we are adapting to these disruptions in what had been a relatively calm, ordered, and mostly comfortable existence.
As one simple, but telling example, I recently made a required grocery-shopping run to one of my regular stores. I found an employee using a spray sanitizer on each grocery cart before handing the cart over to a shopper. I noticed how shoppers, appreciative of this effort to protect them, almost always thanked the employee. Once inside, I discovered the aisles were all marked as “one way” with arrows pointing the direction of flow.
Signs repeatedly requested shoppers to maintain a distance of six feet between them and the next person — including in the checkout lanes — and folks were complying with no further oversight by store employees as if this were the normal thing to do. Some items were marked with “limit” requests which, from what I could tell, were being observed.
The cashiers were isolated from customers by a clear plexiglass shield which had an opening to give access to a credit card device and to permit use of currency. These arrangements would have been considered “unusual” if not “weird” a short time ago but now have been integrated into part of everyday life.
OK moving on.
Both my sweetheart-for-life and I have recently met with our family doctor as follow-ups to our emergency room visits. What was different was that these were electronic meetings, not office visits. The procedure was basically the same as that of an office encounter with us first providing information to a medical assistant. I was able to furnish most “vital signs” such as blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and weight because we have measuring devices for these at home.
We answered the usual questions and then waited for a return call after our physician had reviewed the information including lab test results. Kinda like waiting our turn in the office while our physician was tending to other patients.
Anyway, we met electronically with the doctor — answering questions, discussing our respective health situations, and receiving his evaluation and advice. Not quite the same as our accustomed procedure, but we have the utmost confidence in his skills and knowledge — and even at our age, can adapt as necessary.
But there’s more.
We have been attending Sunday church services for many years and, despite the restrictions on gathering size, we have continued to do so. The difference is that we have been attending “live streaming” of the services. Yep, we receive an e-mail printout of the order of worship including the scriptures of the day and the words to the hymns so we can participate in the service at home. The service itself is held in the usual manner at the church with the pastor, assisting minister, organist, choir director, and scripture reader — all keeping the appropriate “social distance” from each other — conducting the ceremony. Of course, there’s no communion or the usual coffee hour meeting with old friends, but we gotta “make do,” right?
Of some concern, however, are activities that may fall victim to this crisis. I was talking — at a distance of 15 or more feet — with a neighbor who is also a “backyard” gardener. She specializes in flowers and her annual displays are always spectacular. Unfortunately, this year we may not be able to procure bedding plants as usual because, from what we can tell, plant nurseries are not considered “essential” and therefore are subject to mandatory shutdown. She was telling me she may simply have to give up her long time passion for growing flowers. And I’m wondering if I will have to forfeit my vegetable garden as well.
I’m sure some folks reading this may have the idea that these are small, unimportant parts of the big picture where millions of people are out of work and hundreds of thousands are ill with the virus, but that’s the point. Hundreds of millions of folks in this country are also facing upheaval of their lives in less spectacular ways and are devising means of coping with these disruptions by adapting to the situation — and it’s that capability which will enable this country to survive and recover from this scourge.
At least that’s how it seems to me.
Bill Taylor, a regular contributing columnist and local area resident, may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.