When COVID-19 began spreading across the country in March, I’m sure most of us didn’t think we’d still be dealing with it in July. And yet here we are. As I write this, new daily cases have risen 80 percent in the U.S. over the past two weeks. Florida, the state I left behind to relocate to Rochester, surpassed 100,000 cases, and the virus continues to spread around the globe with infections passing ten million worldwide. With that in mind, I thought I’d write this blog to cheer myself up. And maybe you, too.
I’m one of those guys who has traveled by air recently. But my experience was reassuring. I began my journey at the Tampa airport on Friday morning, June 19. The dire news about the dangers of flying had made me nervous about the trip, but the airport was lightly populated, and I passed through security faster than ever before. The TSA agents wore masks and gloves, and I’d say about 90 percent of the people in the airport were wearing masks as well – some wore plastic face guards – and everyone kept a respectful distance from each other.
If I hadn’t been wearing a mask, my airline, Southwest, would not have let me on the plane, but they would have gladly given me a mask if I’d needed one. They boarded only 10 people at a time, so there wasn’t any crowding along the corridor to the aircraft. Everything on board had been cleaned and sanitized, and the attendants wore masks and gloves for the duration of the flight. We were instructed not to fill the middle seats to ensure proper distancing, so I felt very safe, and my tension quickly subsided. (As of July 1, American and United will be packing their middle seats again, greedy capitalists that they are, so if you’re traveling soon, be sure you know your airline’s policy.)
I changed planes in Baltimore around noon, and the experience was similar there. Of course, I was extremely careful. I followed all the precautions the CDC has recommended to remain safe in public places. In fact, everyone was careful. People stayed apart as best they could. There was no pushing or bumping to get on or off airplanes, and no one displayed any impatience or annoyance. People didn’t complain. They worked together.
To cap it all off, a few days later in Rochester, I went for a coronavirus swab test (or what I call the COVID nose poke). I didn’t want to self-quarantine any longer than I needed to. I’d recommend that you get it done if you’re thinking about it. It wasn’t as terrible as some folks have made it out to be. I enjoyed getting confirmation that I was corona free (it took just four days for my results to come in), and I saw it as a cultural experience. I can brag about it now and forevermore, embellishing as I see fit.
I think during difficult times, most of us will rise to the occasion. Even if we disagree on the larger issues, we tend to care about each other. Call me crazy, but I believe there are at least a few encouraging takeaways to the pandemic even during these most frightening and uncertain times.
I’m not naïve. I know there’s grim news out there. People are getting sick and dying, some are acting irresponsibly, and most experts agree we’re not likely to see a vaccine until summer of next year. But we can still celebrate the human spirit, cherish our loved ones, and appreciate the little things in life that make us happy. Brighter days are ahead.
“A human being is a storytelling machine. The Self is a story. “Paul Brooks (author)