As annoying as it is, I’m a silver linings kind of gal. It’s actually why I stayed out of the newspaper industry for so long, instead opting for the fluffy world of magazine writing.
It’s not that all news is bad, but the magazine stories I worked on always had a feel-good vibe or a happy ending.
It was a funny twist of fate getting back into newspapers after 15 years, and had my bosses told me I’d be covering a pandemic in my first year back, I probably would have politely declined and run full speed back into my fluffy magazine hole.
But now that I’m settled into my newsy writing boots, there’s no place I’d rather be right during this trying time.
At this community paper in this small Texas town, we literally are writing history right now. And it’s not about publishing the story before anyone else, or sensationalizing the lead. When I look back on our coverage of this I want to know we did everything we could to share information in a way that actually helped people. I want to know that we worked those long nights and early mornings to be a part of the solution. I want to know we were helpers.
There are so many helpers showing up right now. Most of us in this part of the country are lucky. We can be absolute heroes by sitting in our cars outside of our favorite restaurants and waiting for our food to be brought to us.
This is what I’ve been training for my entire life. It may not seem heroic, but not only are we not risking infecting other patrons as silent carriers, but we are supporting businesses and workers that quite frankly don’t know if they’re going to make it through this.
As someone who worked in the restaurant industry for years, my heart is aching for my food and bev brothers and sisters. I know what it’s like to rely on tips as your sole source of income.
And I know from doing PR for small businesses that just a few low days or a low week can put you completely under. I’ve been tipping very generously to my curbside helpers this week, knowing that they may not be there to serve me next week if I don’t. And maybe even if I do.
If you’ve watched Frozen II on loop this week like so many other parents, you know that we’re just called to do the next right thing. If that next right thing involves bags of burgers, I feel like we’ve still got it pretty good.
But not all heroes order takeout. Some are out there trying to find enough masks and gowns to suit up and go running headfirst toward trouble. I can’t imagine what their families are feeling right now, and I’m just so grateful they’re all willing to keep showing up. I worked at a daycare one day,
I worked at a daycare one day, and after losing the battle of naptime with 20 wild toddlers, having a kid poop on the actual playground and watching a boy named Wyatt throw up nacho cheese and corn, I literally never went back. I called and thanked them for the opportunity, and I didn’t even pick up my paycheck.
So, I am extremely grateful that those nurses, doctors, first responders and everyone on the front lines are willing to deal with a lot more than Wyatt’s tummy troubles to ensure that our community and our country make it through this. I should get them takeout as a thank you.
Then there are all the teachers — the brand new and very seasoned who are trying to figure out what virtual learning looks like. Certified professionals, who are now trying to boil down everything they do into something parents can try to work with in between conference calls, are also calling students at home and video chatting with them just to try and bring some cheer and normalcy to their days.
In between saving lives in San Antonio, a friend of mine who is an emergency room doctor set up a virtual classroom program for a group of us who are stepping into the new world of homeschooling. Both of my kids actually love it, and after about an hour each day they’ve finished all major subjects for the day. So they’re reading, and drawing, and fighting to the death, and trying to sneak Netflix, and building cardboard kingdoms and eating all the snacks in one sitting. And it’s all fine.
What’s important to remember is that the entire world is in new territory. I saw something on Facebook that said it’s like Mother Earth has sent us all to our rooms to think about what we’ve done.
And while I don’t think this virus is a punishment for bad behavior, it might be the best excuse for us to slow down, pause and think about how fortunate we are that in the midst of a global pandemic, we are still safe.
We are being asked to be still, which is not the worst thing to be. And in the end, if this respiratory virus teaches us anything I hope it teaches us to just breathe.
And I hope that once we’re all ungrounded we continue to find ways to be helpers. There will be a lot of people who need help long after the major threat of illness has passed and we try to shake out what the economy looks like moving forward.
We don’t know how long this will last, but there will be an upswing. So, I say we take it day by day, and even as things change we remain positive, and just do the next right thing.