Which world might we return to? - Denny Scott editorial
The past several issues of The Citizen, inclusive of this one, have focused on how people, groups and organizations in Huron County have made things work despite the pending threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it just goes to show how resilient we are here on Ontario’s West Coast.
Whether it was talking to local spiritual leaders last week about how they are reaching their congregations, talking to local funeral directors about how they are doing their best to help loved ones this week, or the plethora of stories that Shawn and I have written about local municipal- and county-level councils figuring out how to best run their council meetings, it’s become apparent that things we once thought impossible or unlikely to occur are now part of the everyday.
It just goes to show you that, if something is important enough, we will find a way to make it a part of our lives, whether that means spending a little more money or a little more time on the issue.
At the same time, however, the pandemic provides us with an opportunity that is the inverse of the above: what are things we thought to be of the utmost importance that have since fallen by the wayside?
Take, for example, grocery shopping.
While I’m still a staple at local grocery stores, I won’t lie, my wife and I have, for the first time, taken advantage of the shopping services that allow customers to pick up their groceries at the store instead of going aisle by aisle to choose them and, I’ve got to say, it’s pretty slick.
Before the pandemic, I was wary of such practices because I liked the adventure of going through the grocery aisles and finding something new or unique. As such, I was pretty down on the pick-up services whenever my wife and I discussed them. After using them a couple times, however, I’ve decided it isn’t the worst thing in the world and it definitely helps keep the grocery budget in line.
Working from home is also being looked at with new eyes by people around the world. Before the pandemic, I spent, at most, one day a week working from home, which was more about spending time with my daughter and saving a little money on childcare than it was about the joys of telecommuting. I figured one day a week would be the maximum that would work. However, as I sit here on a Monday morning, working a half-day from home to keep our office under the best practice of gatherings under five people, I realize that for our work week (which runs Wednesday to Wednesday, really), I’ll have spent two and a half business days at home and two and a half business days at the office and it seems to be working fine.
People are also learning how important their local businesses are as they try to avoid the crowds and lineups in larger centres, even in places like Goderich.
Heck, after sitting and waiting for several items I ordered from Amazon nearly a month ago now, I’ve decided that I’ll be nixing my Amazon Prime membership going forward because, in hindsight, the delay gave me time to realize I probably didn’t need those items as much as I thought I did. (Except for the cat food, my wife seems to think her cats eating is a high priority, I’ll never understand why.) I learned that, while it’s great to get something in two or three days I couldn’t buy locally, the company can’t be trusted when we thought we really needed it. On the contrary, local businesses have, in my opinion, come through with flying colours for the past several weeks.
That decision, and the other realizations, lend credit to the idea that things won’t ever be the same. Those of us who follow the news (in moderation) have likely heard that the world that we “return” to after the pandemic will scarcely be the one we left when most of us started practicing isolation and suggested cleaning procedures and I for one think that’s likely an astute observation.
We’re going to change the way we do things and it will be the results of a choice and, likely, something we do without realizing it.
Will I still sit shoulder-to-shoulder with people at the Blyth Festival or a local movie theatre? Probably, as long as they don’t have the sniffles. But I’ve learned, through the pandemic, that my desire to do interviews one-on-one, face-to-face, isn’t necessarily the best idea when there are other methods.
I’ve also learned, as stated above, that working from home doesn’t need to be as alien a concept as it was. Heck, it can be downright relaxing to put on a pair of comfortable pants and slippers to start your workday instead of a collared shirt, slacks and boots.
Every aspect of our lives could change after this: more people may take part in worship services online for safety’s sake, people may start ordering their groceries and picking them up at a local grocery store and, if something can’t be got locally, it may need to wait for a trip to a larger centre instead of turning to an online business. Maybe, after waiting that long, we’ll decide we didn’t need it in the first place.
The world will have changed forever, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.