Taking anything for granted these days?
A month ago we’d rarely talk to strangers standing in a checkout line even though we were within two to three feet of them. Today we’re six feet apart and counting while swapping stories about trying to find toilet paper.
Many of us would spend our weekdays —and weekends — running around non-stop. Soccer practice. Shopping. Grabbing a bit to eat. Crab feeds (this is Manteca after all). We seemed to be anyplace but at home.
In less than a month our driving whether it is to and from work, running around town, or going on weekend trips has dropped mileage we’re racking up in cars by 35 to 50 percent. We know this because auto insurance firms that track such data are also reporting accident claims have dropped 35 to 40 percent with many of the companies planning to pass on monthly premium discounts such as the roughly 15 percent All-State is planning for April and May.
We’re not having heart attacks and screaming matches/insult-a-thons on social media 24/7 about President Trump, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Bernie Sanders.
Whether it is fear for our own health or concern for others you don’t see many people ignoring social distancing recommendations. It’s a concession to the fact our behavior can have an impact on our health and that of others.
It’s a long way from the days of not too long ago where more than a few cigarette smokers believed it was your problem and not theirs that you were in the same room or downwind from the acid smoke from cigarettes.
The fact the speeding locomotive that was the economy hit the wall almost overnight due to measures to curb a coronavirus — a word that likely 999 out of every 1,000 Americans a year ago had no inkling even existed — and not your typical run-of-the-mill calamities has to get you to thinking we aren’t as sophisticated as we like to think we are.
Doing much of anything these days is a bit of a challenge.
If you run out of milk at 1 o’clock in the morning good luck going to the neighborhood 7-Eleven store as many have taken to closing from midnight to 5.a.m.
Banks have gone back to bankers’ hours of yesteryear opening later and closing earlier.
Need a haircut? You’re not dropping by a barber shop or a stylist anytime soon. If you dare, grab a pair of household scissors and trust someone to give you a trim or to clean up your mop a bit or else take a go at it yourself.
There are still signs that things are normal.
Full throttle stop sign running hasn’t ended despite a significant drop-off in traffic to dispel the theory that if our streets were somehow less congested by growth that traffic wouldn’t be as nut-so in Manteca. At the same time, however, the vast majority of people who follow the rules and drive courteously are now much more prominent as you see them sitting patiently at a red light with no other vehicle traffic in sight.
The bottom line is people who feel that they are entitled to act like jerks will act always act like jerks come hell or high water. But the same is true about people who see no percentage in making themselves the center of the universe.
For whatever reason, the homeless are less of an issue today. I still hear the usual cast of characters talking loudly and using profanity as they’re walking down Yosemite Avenue past the office window at midnight. And I jog past the usual encampments. But the in-your-face and slightly aggressive panhandling in front of stores has dropped off significantly. The numbers obviously haven’t shrunk. That’s why it gives credence to the theory that only a minority of the homeless are truly problematic to the point they are in people’s faces. What that means when it comes to a solution going forward is tough to say but the lower profile overall re-enforces the old adage “out of sight, out of mind”. Given there has always been homeless people it does give you a clue that attitude on the part of a more prevalent component of homeless today — can anyone say the rampant use of illegal substances — have made the homeless as a whole seem anti-social.
The fact property crimes are plunging should provide our leaders with a big clue as to what to do to make our neighborhoods safer. Re-invest in a community services officer dedicated exclusively to organizing active Neighborhood Watch groups and coordinate officers working with them. The more people there are at home obviously helps but the fact people these days are actually getting out and walking in their own neighborhoods and interacting with other neighbors — even though from a safe social distance — as they go by has made neighborhoods more crime resistant.
Spring is here but baseball isn’t.
After getting one’s fill of all the talk among millionaires that play the game and the billionaires that own the team talk about how to salvage the season — read that crank up the money machine — and wonder out loud how long it will take fans to return that they treat as ATMs based on charges for everything from peanuts to parking to fill their respective bank accounts, you really don’t miss Major League Baseball that much.
What you do miss is the sound of kids and their voices going “hey batter, hey batter” as you walk your dog past Lincoln Park followed by the clink of a rawhide ball hitting metal that is then punctuated by gleeful yelling and shouting.
They say that it make take a time to get back to normal.
But the real question is do we want to get back to normal per se?
What’s wrong with a world where we show courtesy to others by being a tad concerned about their well-being, strike up conversations with complete strangers, or drive less like maniacs?
The games that count should be the ones played by kids and not by millionaires.
And is spending time at home really as bad as it seems?
As the economy comes back and what is the first wave of COVID-19 passes we might just want to make tweaks to how we go about doing things.
We can do better than what once passed as normal just like we don’t want to settle on what is going on right now as the new normal.
It sure would be nice on our journey back to where we were before the pandemic we manage to take along with us some of the good things that have come from the challenges we are facing today. The list of “good things” includes but is not limited to consideration of others’ welfare, being more courteous and patient, taking better care of our health, and approaching life as a gift that we cherish instead of one we sleep walk through or scurry from here and there without smelling the proverbial roses.