Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Risky Business

There are days that seem just like every other day.  And then there are moments when I realize how much things have changed.

Yesterday, I drove a textbook to the house of a teacher who will begin teaching the class from her living room next week.  Ordinarily, she'd have stopped by my office, and I would have handed her the book.  Or I would have called the publisher and had the book shipped to her.  But in these days, she's not leaving the house, and I can't trust that the book will get to her in time.

I was a little surprised that she let me come to the house.  I've been out and about, and her household has been much more severe in their self-isolating.  But she did.  We even chatted for a bit.  I suspect that the isolating is getting to her, and she was grateful to see a face that didn't belong to a family member.

At times, I felt my brain slip to the oddness of it all.  I've known this teacher a long time; we taught together at the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale.  I've been to her house for all sorts of happier reasons, like Passover and her annual New Year's Day party.  Yesterday we sat 6 feet apart, but we did chat for a bit.

While I was there, a roofer came to give an estimate.  Afterwards, she picked up a spray bottle.  "Is there a bug?" I asked.

Nope--she was spraying the door knobs.  It's one of many times that I think about how lax I am in terms of staying safe.  In fact, on the way home, I indulged in very unsafe behavior.

Let me take a bit of a time out here to reflect on unsafe behavior.  Once that might have been something super risky, like drug use.  Once that might have been sex without protection. I think about that 80's movie, Risky Business, that introduced Tom Cruise to the wider world.

What did I do?  I went to the WalMart Neighborhood Market at 4:45 p.m.  I halfway expected not to get in the door.  But there was no line, so I decided to take the risk.

It was crowded, and that made me feel uneasy.  But there were pallets of toilet paper--the good kind.  I thought about stocking up, but I got only 2 packages.  Now I know how long I can make a roll last.

I also wasn't sure I'd like it--it's my brand, but it's a larger size roll than usual.  But since I haven't actually seen toilet paper for sale since the middle of March, I added it to my cart.

There are days when the implications of the big changes are just overwhelming:  how can we have students on campus safely?  Will we ever sing in groups again?  How will airline travel look?  On and on I could go.

In these overwhelming times, it's good to focus on the little changes.  My colleague friend may be spraying her door knobs, and I'm thrilled to find toilet paper.  Let my brain process those small changes before moving on to the bigger ones, the riskier business.

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