Coronavirus has been another unwelcome visitor of 2020.
I explained it all to my doctor recently, before the Coronavirus map went all red-dot ominous. I’m an anxious person on the best of days, and my anxiety lately has been high.
I was looking for some reassurance or at least a script for some Xanax or something.
WHEN DISASTER STRIKES
Just a month before the Covid-19 mess, my family had been in our very first tornado (yay). Literally, the night before the tornado, I had told my daughter not to worry too much about tornados. “They’re rare in our neck of the woods, sweetie,” I said.
She had been learning about them in school, and I felt, was a bit too interested/ concerned. I mean, I get it; Tornados are like, the rockstars of small market severe weather systems. They are exciting and dangerous and fortunately (for us on the East Coast), they happen elsewhere.
I told her as much– look your dad has been through Nor’easters, blizzards, snow dumps, countless tropical storms, and tropical depressions, and a few major hurricanes. I rode out Hurricane Hugo in Camden, SC, while in my first month of military school. Hell, I was even in a decent-sized east-coast earthquake. And yet, not one tornado.
WE ALSO HAD NUCLEAR BOMB DRILLS IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
While we had drills for tornados in my elementary school days, I never saw nor experienced one. As far as my young mind was concerned, we could add dragons and other mythical creatures along with tornados to the list of fantastical shit we hid from that never actually came to fruition.
For instance, we drilled for nuclear Armageddon. I remember my first duck-and-cover drill in second grade, vividly. We climbed out of our seat and then proceeded to sit cross-legged under our desk looking stupidly at the teacher. “Great job class!”
At least for Tornado drills, we ran out in the school’s hallway and ducked flush against the concrete wall. The Tornado Bell sequence was terrifying. 4 Quick bursts of bell and everyone jumping out of their seat.
Nuclear Armageddon bell sequence was actually pleasant in comparison. And also where we broke out with some of the real protection, our flimsy wooden desks. If the desks stopped the collapsing roof long enough we could be properly vaporized. At the very least we would be pelted with glass flying at a million miles an hour.
I shudder thinking of what actual nightmares my children have and will continue to be drilled on in the future. That’s more frightening to me then any tornado drill, and an entirely more-depressing blog post.
Short-story long, I was like, “tornados are a rare thing in the Mid-Atlantic, sweetie go to bed.”
TROUBLE AND TORNADOS
And so the next day, after literally telling my daughter not to worry about tornados, and a February morning at that, I noticed the attic cover start moving up and down on its own. My first thought was excellent; we have a poltergeist.
Suddenly, the attic began to rattle and flop up and down. I was just about to be like, “honey, I think we have ghosts!” When I heard a rush of wind, and I knew immediately what was happening. I started shouting, “BASEMENT! BASEMENT!”
The wind gushed against our house on all sides, pattering with small objects. We rushed down stair after stair shoving our little ones ahead of us as we descended.
Then a crash. The twister hurtled a king-size mattress (some asshole dumped on the corner of our street) directly into the front of our house, smashing my daughter’s window and hurling glass all over her room.
It’s never a good sign when the local news sets up a live shot with your house in the background. And that wound up being our house on the local news, leading off the 6 that February evening.
Fortunately, we had all made it to the basement. And thankfully, the tornado had been a baby, a tiny thing. Yet, unsettling enough that my daughter still asks Alexa if there will be any Tornados in tomorrow’s forecast.
CORONAVIRUS & CLASS ASSIGNMENT
I’m also finishing up my last course in an online social media marketing class at SNHU. And what lies ahead isn’t any criticism about SNHU or my professors, when the course started in January everything felt as rosy as ever. It was still pretty rosy all the way up until the second to last week when I was putting the finishing touches on my 30 -page final-paper.
But have you ever tried researching social media marketing practices for a critical school paper in a world that has gone to hell, using accepted practices written when the world hadn’t yet gone to hell?
For instance, travel influencers are at best chilling at home right now. Foodie influencers are home right now. So are the rest of the cadre of Instagram influencers. And who really gives a shit about social media marketing best practices when you can’t even locate a roll of goddamn toilet paper IRL?
My assignment was to select a local grocery store or small business to conceptualize a digital storytelling and branding proposal. I immediately gravitated towards small business, specifically a favorite restaurant of mine in Washington, DC, 2Amys. I love 2Amys; they make my favorite Neapolitan pizza in all of DC.
Besides up until recently, I had never been all that interested in grocery stores in terms of storytelling, primarily because grocery stores always sent me junk mail littered with poorly lit photos of meat and party platters. It was January when I selected my business and not the current global hell-apocalypse we find ourselves in now.
GROCERY STORES ARE MY NEWEST WORST NIGHTMARE
Now, I think a great deal more about supermarkets. Lengthy grocery lists feel like Operation: Doomsday to me at present.
If I were to design a grocery store social media strategy amid our pandemic-nightmare, I think I would include store maps that plot the exact locations of items and how to capture them quickly to limit exposure while in the store.
These maps could go even further by combining needs like items for taco night as well as spaghetti night with an added excursion to the diaper aisle.
I say this mostly because I went to pick up some last-minute items to tide my small family over for the next 2-3 weeks and was utterly lost in the same store I have been in a million times. Searching for items, I could have found quickly a month ago, even while being constantly badgered by my daughter for a new toy.
Instead, I had to backtrack several times in my fog of personal and global worry. And I never found the goddamn egg noodles.
In the end, I was proud of my branding proposal for 2Amys, yet it is as useful today as a Disney World, “2020 Star Wars Rival Run Weekend Race” brochure.
And worse, I watched online as 2Amys made a valiant go at remaining open and offering takeout, to then having to close indefinitely.
I’m crossing my fingers for them and their employees, I cannot imagine my future, not including their excellent service and their equally outstanding Pizze Norcia And well, I need to make it through this as well with enough of a disposable income that allows for eating out.
I know I’m not the only student, online or otherwise, to experience this massive, frightening global event while trying to stay on top of classwork. Classwork that was so important days before had become a trivial exercise. Trying to stay focused while the world is in peril is a challenge.
By the way, did you know SNAFU is a military acronym? My father clued me in on that one; apparently, he used it a lot while in Vietnam. He relayed that the original meaning was “Situation Normal: All Fucked Up.” And some assholes later modified it to “all fouled up.”
Although double-checking SNAFU online has shown me that there are other claims on the original usage and of different iterations.
I’ll stick with what my late father told me, I’m too exhausted to care if he was wrong.
WHY YES, DOC, I HAVE SOME OUTER LIMIT SIZED ANXIETY ISSUES RIGHT NOW
Coronavirus, job fears, the economy, my children’s future all have joined the queue of things for me to worry about obsessively. So, while I could go into some dark places of what this ordeal sort’ve reminds me of… Well, a 2AM Sunday morning, Outer Limits I had seen in 2005 while living in my parent’s basement, when I was desperately alone.
To hell with it, let’s go to the dark place, the episode is called “Dead Man’s Switch.” It picks up the story of a soldier taking an elevator 11,000 feet underground to a bunker where he commands the entire world’s nuclear and biological arsenal.
The point is for him to be cut off from society, keeping the Earth safe by pressing a button that prevents nuclear annihilation on the Earth’s surface. Why? Because aliens are invading, and if the aliens win and claim the Earth as a prize, well fuck you, aliens.
The episode is a cheesy bit of pulp-sci-fi… Except it resembles our reality in many ways right now. Sheltering while the world struggles with a mysterious biological enemy. And like the show, our only form of communication is via cameras and monitors.
SO WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?
I have thoroughly displayed that I am no expert on calm or optimistic thinking. But I am optimistic that we can get through all of this if we try to remain calm. It may just be the Xanax talking (mostly kidding).
If we listen to the experts and stay out of our first responder’s way if we can do our part by remaining calm and clean and not interacting with anyone outside of our immediate homes… We can help not over-crowding our medical industry, and save lives.
We also have one major thing going for us that older societies hadn’t had the luxury of during pandemics. Open and safe (medically speaking) communication. There was no Instagram during the plague. No Zoom meetings during the Spanish Flu.
Coronavirus has Linkedin, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. And email so you can stay in touch with your mom. We can do this shit, mom!
Sure it feels claustrophobic, now. Yet imagine the loneliness and depression Benjamin Franklin Bache must have battled before succumbing to yellow fever in Philadelphia in 1798? He couldn’t Tweet about that shit.
Maybe this whole pandemic thing is like the dead man’s switch, only we need to keep hitting the red button for redemption rather than doom.
Keep mashing buttons to keep our online community “close” while leaving room for the smart people to figure out the solutions ITRW. All while we get back to posting pictures of sneakers and food on Instagram.
SO LET’S PLAY NICE
In all seriousness, let’s be kind to each other for once and not let the festering global bitterness and political antagonism, and everything else cloud this emerging new world with the same old angst and assery.
Let’s not let the many who will leave us too soon, cut down by this awful virus; let’s not let them die in vain. Why don’t we take this time with our digital friends and families and begin to build a foundation for a better world?
And bonus, SNHU, there will be newer social media marketing practices for us to learn. Like influencers taking selfies at their first colonoscopy, maybe? Wouldn’t that be some shit? (Let me know in the comments!)
So, let’s be thankful for our medical community, let’s call our mothers and grocery shop for our elderly neighbors, and maybe someday we can all see a better world for ourselves over the rainbow.