Morning Coffee: “New Normal”

SummerIt’s a term we’ve been hearing a lot lately. Personally, I hate it. I don’t want a new normal. I want my old normal back. To me it reeks of government control and the nanny state. But, right now we really don’t have a choice. The trick will be, finding that balance between living our own lives, and being aware of others, until this virus threat has been controlled.

For the foreseeable future, it will mean wearing a face mask when in a crowded public situation. It means putting a little distance between you and the next person, maybe waiting instead of everyone trying to cram into the same elevator. Holding off on shaking hands, or hugging. These are things I can live with. With a little imagination, a mask can become a fun fashion accessory. Just check out all the options popping up for sale in Facebook ads. I’ve never been comfortable in crowds, and don’t get me started on men who shake hands like they’re trying to crush a beer can. What are they trying to prove, anyway?

I do worry about the business owners, though. Running a successful restaurant is near impossible. Their overhead is tremendous. If they can only seat half as many people, at most, many are going to disappear. The same with numerous other small neighborhood businesses. The American Dream is under threat.

We’re going to have to start running businesses differently. There will be more online shopping. This growing trend is already putting a strain on our delivery services. Drive-through and curbside are also options. But it’s the walk-in clientele that make-up the majority of profits for many of these businesses. Fewer customers mean fewer jobs mean fewer businesses and choices.

We’re also going to have to get creative in our role as consumers. The big box stores are going to do fine. There will always be customers for Walmart, Publix, Menards, Best Buy, etc. Amazon will always manage to turn a profit. It’s the small businesses, the ones owned by our friends and neighbors, the kitschy little shop with the unique gift ideas down on Main Street, that need our help. When you’re spending your money, if you can, go first to your local restaurants and shops.

But when you do, be sure and respect the owner’s rules for masks and safe distancing, whatever those rules might be. The more conscientious we are about living the “new normal”, perhaps the sooner we can get back to our “old normal”. Humans are a social animal, and I know this social animal doesn’t want to live the isolated life any longer than necessary.

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