Welcome to the New Normal

The New Normal

How’s your 2022 going so far?

I know it’s only a few days into the new year and you might still be recovering from your New Year’s Eve party/day.

On the other hand, maybe you’re not. That’s the point. After nearly two years (yes, that’s right, two years) of pandemic it’s time to admit we have entered a new normal. Large groupings of unrelated people milling about for hours, drinking, carousing, perhaps even exchanging bodily, um, connections, those days are over for the foreseeable future.

I’m here to say, don’t be afraid of the new normal. It’s just the latest in a long line of them.

Granted a new normal is usually after some kind of war has ravaged a country or several. Buildings stand, if they still stand at all, damaged to an extent ranging from a need for a good cleaning to a need for a good enema. Populations redistribute to areas where the damage is less (sometimes called being a refugee) alternately causing a need for more in one area and a need for less in another. Once stable supply systems are taxed and/or destabilized to the point of incompetency. Governments are changed either through the ballot or through the bullet. Niche groups rise up to take advantage of the power vacuum, usually niche groups on the far extremes of the political spectrum.

Does any of this sound familiar? Replace “war” with “COVID” and there you are.

If I may go off on a slight tangent, if the COVID pandemic is the equivalent of a war, wouldn’t those “soldiers” (aka citizens) who refuse to get vaccinated be guilty of dereliction of duty or perhaps even disobeying an order from a superior officer (AKA the president)? As such shouldn’t they be thrown into prison? I won’t go so far as to say shot, but a forced jab might be in order.

Make no mistake, the time will come when you are old and grey and your grandchild is sitting on your lap looking up and asking “What did you do in the great COVID pandemic Grands?” What do you want to tell them? That you did all that was asked of you? Or that you didn’t believe any of it was true which is why you’re tethered to the oxygen tank little Billie is idly playing with the valves on as you chat.

But I digress.

The need to mourn what was should be superseded by the excitement of what is to be.

Wanna know more about what the new world will look like? Click the link

It’s likely you will be wearing masks in crowded confined places (airplanes, buses, etc.) for the foreseeable future. Why get excited over that? Just ask anyone who has ever spent the first two days of a vacation popping aspirin and day time cold medication till the bug they picked up on the plane makes it’s way out of them. If only they had worn a mask! More to the point, if only the guy who brought that bug onto the plane had worn a mask. Statistics already show a downturn in the amount of seasonal flu over the last two years directly as a consequence of mask wearing and social distancing. No, you won’t always wear a mask in public in the future, but you won’t think twice about wearing one as you head outside with the sniffles.

Speaking of travel, the days of just getting in the car and taking off with no hotel reservations or dinner reservations or camp ground reservations or no reservations at all I’m afraid are over. Hotels will be limiting numbers for some time to come, not just for COVID reasons but for staffing reasons. Same for restaurants. On the other hand, having that reservation will mean a more tranquil dinner. You will also want those reservations because you will be competing with a new kind of business traveler, the one who can work from anywhere so they take the family on a trip and while the kids play on the beach he or she sits under an umbrella and crunches numbers on the laptop.

Which brings us to how working from home will become an accepted practice. Stop your moaning about how you hate your commute to work, you’ll only be doing it a couple of days a week now if at all. Everyone will have a home workstation area in their house whether it’s a new use for the spare bedroom or it’s the left side of the kitchen table. A whole new industry will emerge (it already has) of designers who can retrofit your house into a live/work space. Not to mention how this will impact those for whom actually being in an office is a problem, from the physically challenged to those living great distances away. As a matter of fact, distance will no longer be an issue when seeking employment. Want to work for a company in New York but you live in New Mexico? A cable connection and a laptop with a webcam is all that is necessary. And a willingness to get up two hours earlier.

But what of human connection I hear you cry. There will still be plenty of it only now you will have the advantage of even more selectivity than before. When the automobile was becoming a widely accepted norm, one of the fears was that it would destroy the concept of neighborhood. Why be friendly with your neighbors when you can just get in the car and visit friends miles away? What in fact came into being was that you were no longer tied to having JUST the neighborhood as your friendship base, you now had the entire town, village, city, potentially as your friend. The new normal gives the ability to potentially have the world as your friend. Or yes, as your enemy. So remember to play nice on the social media and treasure the time actually spent with friends and family.

The pandemic has given so many people the opportunity of a lifetime. Laid off manual laborers have taken the guaranteed income from the federal government and gone back to school or sharpened their skills in other ways that now make them not only more employable, but more employable at a higher wage. Office workers, freed of their commutes and the drudgery of corporate life, have dipped their toes into the waters of entrepreneurship, an ocean voyage from which they may not return. A tidal wave of businesses will bring with it the rising of all boats Reaganomics promised but never delivered.

The sciences will never be the same again. Just as the space race brought forth new technologies we now take for granted, from scratch resistant eyewear to wireless headsets to the Dustbuster, the search for a COVID vaccine proved the mRNA technology was a safe and effective methodology for medical inquiry. Already it has been used to create a drug that will reduce the infection risk of an H.I.V.-like virus in rhesus macaques. Yes, the AIDS vaccine/antidote they’ve talked about for four decades now is potentially around the corner. Will other so-called death sentence diseases be far behind?

And then there is politics. People tend to forget that Winston Churchill was turned out as prime minister of Great Britain BEFORE the end of WWII mostly because the conservative party was not willing to accept the demands of a public that had sacrificed for six years in the service of democracy. They wanted what they perceived as being their rightful good and true, i.e., socialized medicine, higher taxes on the rich, a government more representative of the working classes than the ruling classes. The same will be true here post-COVID if Democrats can make sure voter repression laws are overturned, gerrymandering is tossed on the ashcan of history, and a faith in the democratic ideals this nation was founded on can be restored. This can begin with a full investigation of the events of January 6th, 2021 and the expulsion, indictment, and conviction of any elected or appointed official who aided or abetted in any way the attempted violent overthrow of the United States government. It must be made patently clear that those who sacrificed during COVID, who did their service and amended their lives, are the ones who will gain a benefit from a grateful nation.

Things change, they always have. Sometimes you have a long slow run up to that change. Sometimes change is thrust upon you. If you allow yourself to be thrown for a loop by change you’ll only find yourself with it’s tire marks all over your chest and no way of getting onboard the bus the rest of us are on.

It all comes down to not fearing the new normal, but embracing it. That’s a happy thought for a new year in the new world

For all the girls who had a crush on John Doe

Shapiro Out