COVID may be making needed changes to our way of life

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by David Herman

By the time you read this we will be 10 weeks into this isolating and social distancing. How are you doing? What are you doing? We are lucky to be living in a rural caring community where people look out for each other. We receive a weekly call from the people from Youngsters of Yore to make sure we are OK and ask if there is anything that we need. So reassuring.

We have had plenty of offers from friends to help pick up any needs we have. So far, we have been able to make do on our own. I suffer from a disease which affects my auto-immune system and, as a result, I take a medication to suppress my immune system; so it is imperative that we do everything we can to avoid the virus. By so doing, we protect ourselves; but we are also protecting those in our community that we come into contact with. Wearing a mask protects two ways: it protects you from receiving the virus, and it protects others from you potentially spreading the virus. Doing this, along with thorough and frequent hand washing, is probably the two major things we can do to prevent spread of the virus.

By now, people are starting to realize that this virus, and the measures to prevent its spread, are not a short term thing, but that society as we knew it will probably never go back to where we were prior to COVID-19. For some time I have realized the need for a drastic reboot of society and, looking back, I saw that, during the last century, these drastic reboots came as a result of major world wars. But I could not envision the world doing that again, so how or what was going to dramatically change the way society works.

Then along came COVID-19 and the world shut down and some governments reacted faster and better, but the result is that we are seeing that it is possible to do things differently than we have for years. When I was in the workforce, I was located in an office in Ottawa, and I was the only member of my section that was here. Everyone else was in London, and about twenty people in Montreal. My boss came to Ottawa and during our meeting he asked if I had the space to set up my office at my home. He said there was no reason for me to travel to Ottawa each day if I could do my work from home. This worked well for me and my employer until my boss retired and he was replaced by a younger manager who felt the need to be able to see that staff was at their desks working. Companies were not ready to embrace teleworking. Today, things are different and companies are telling their people they may never come back to “the office” full time. Times change.

The internet is a wonderful tool when used properly. You can do almost any shopping you need to on-line and easily. Yesterday I needed a part for our car and it was not available from Canadian Tire, or any of the auto parts suppliers in Kemptville. I went on-line, did a virtual chat with a virtual receptionist, and then they opened the parts department, contacted me and we arranged for me to skip into Ottawa to pick up the part. When I arrived at the dealer I rang the doorbell, a person in a mask and gloves answered and I told him who I was, and a minute later he returned with my part. Faster and easier then pre-COVID.

When I am out on my bicycle, I see two types of people. One type is friendlier than before. People that I do not know are speaking and saying “Hi”. The other type seem paranoid and afraid of even looking a person in the eye, to the extent of turning their back toward you as you pass. I always try to give a wide berth to approaching walkers or cyclists, but some move out into the street long before I am anywhere close to them. Not that any of this is wrong, it is just people doing what they feel is right to protect themselves and their families.

Stay safe, but do not forget to help your neighbour, if only by being cheerful and friendly. When this is over, I hope we do not go back to the way it was.

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