Laughs and other things we might miss - Denny Scott editorial
Recently I started watching a new panel show produced by CBC called Because News. It features Canadian comedians and other personalities putting their own (sometimes funny) spin on the news.
It’s very similar to some British shows I enjoy like Have I Got a Bit More News for You and Mock the Week, but I was thrown for a loop by the fact that there was no studio audience – and thus no one laughing at the jokes. It’s a minor issue, but it’s the kind of thing that really took me out of the show and made it difficult to enjoy.
I eventually ended up shutting it off and finding something a bit older made in happier times where there might have been a studio audience or a laugh track.
It was a great analogy for the entire COVID-19 pandemic experience because, if you had asked me 10 months ago if hearing people laugh was necessary for good television, I likely wouldn’t have said yes.
The lack of laughter is a perfect example of that line in Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” (though I prefer the Counting Crows/Vanessa Carlton version) – you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.
When I realized that, it reminded me of something I had wanted to write in a previous column about the pandemic but couldn’t quite find the right hook for it: what we stand to lose if we don’t control this virus.
Things have changed since I originally threw the idea at the wall to see if it would stick, couched within another topic.
For instance, we weren’t in the middle of the huge spike, both locally and nationally, of COVID-19 cases. We also weren’t so close to having a vaccine possibly ready (though at 70 per cent efficacy, on the low-end, that may not be the control measure necessary. “So close” may not be the proper term, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explained last week that Canada can’t produce the vaccine, so it could take time to get here.
As much as things have changed, however, the message I wanted to get across remains valid: we won’t know what we’ve got ’til it’s gone as far as our local businesses are concerned.
If anything, with recent announcements about possible lockdowns and movement on the province’s response framework, our local businesses could be looking at an even tougher go than they have had since the original lockdown was lifted months ago.
We here at The Citizen know for a fact that the pandemic was tough on small businesses because we have the proof. Not only are we a small business, but, between Shawn and myself, we interviewed numerous people in different industries about the
impact the original lockdown had on their business.
We also all know how happy we were when the original lockdown seemed to have done its job and flattened the curve, allowing us a little more freedom.
That freedom, however, was short-lived as numbers ramped up and, now, we’re looking at the possibility of thousands of people in Ontario getting COVID-19 every day until by Christmas.
Don’t worry, this isn’t another one of those, “Denny scolds people for being stupid,” columns – though I’m sure I have enough anecdotal evidence to fill one – this is just a gentle reminder that simple things like wearing masks, washing hands and keeping to yourselves over the next little while won’t just protect you, your family and your friends, but will also help out the small businesses we have in our communities.
Between the artisans, the restaurants and other “non-essential” businesses, there are plenty of people who will be negatively affected if we enter another lockdown, even with the support programs in place. If you listen to or watch news from larger city centres, you’ve likely already seen the small business owners lamenting the fact that, under the new lockdown rules, they can’t be open, but big box stores and online giants can be. The result is that these big box stores, by virtue of selling groceries, are immune to lockdown protocols and the online companies will thrive. They can continue to sell everything from toys to games to books while stores that specialize in those goods (and, let’s be honest, would likely be a better place to shop for them, with the knowledge that accompanies a specialized location offers) are forced to close their doors.
The problem is that those big box stores and online companies will survive the pandemic, while those unique stores, small boutiques and entrepreneurs may not be so lucky. I’m not going to sit here and demonize Amazon. There are plenty of things that
you just can’t find in The Citizen’s coverage area. There are, however, a good number of things that can be found here and
should be bought here whenever possible. Use curbside pick-up and, until we have to close our storefronts (because I’m convinced that’s just a matter of when, not if), shop locally.
We have to ask ourselves if in surviving this pandemic, is convenience worth losing our community’s most important supporters: its small businesses?