(Note: Today’s column is a light-hearted look at my daily routine and a few simple changes that have taken place under the “new normal” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not meant to minimize or be unaware of the suffering this disease has caused so many, both physically and economically.)
EVERY weekday morning over the past fifty years that I‘ve been editor and publisher of this newspaper, my routine has been the same: I get up very early, shave and shower, dress in a suit and tie and head for the newspaper office. Although fashions have changed and many offices have gone to a more casual dress code (I have no problem with what other offices do), I’m old-fashioned and still wear a suit and, frankly, I feel more comfortable in a suit and tie than in something more casual. But, that’s me!
DURING THE pandemic, since members of the news media are exempt from the “shelter in place” order, I still maintain much the same routine even though our offices are closed to the public and I’m the only one at the newspaper office — most of the time. Since I don’t meet anyone in person, or even see anyone else most of the time, it is strange that I don’t dress more casually — but I don’t.
AFTER sheltering at my home office or the newspaper for the past five weeks I will admit, I’m beginning to slip a little in my formal, decades-long routine. My suit and tie remain standard attire, but there are a few mornings a week that I don’t shave before my shower, so my whiskers get about three days’ growth on them before I shave again. That part of the “new normal” is something I will miss when “normal” returns and I have to spread shaving cream on my face every morning and manuever around with a razor — hoping I don’t cut off my nose! (It’s hard for an editor to stick his nose in other people’s business if he doesn’t have a nose!)
NOW that I’ve adjusted somewhat to wearing a mask during the very little time I am out of the office or away from home, I’m beginning to wonder if I will even have to shave at all until this over. After all, the mask covers my face where the whiskers are located. My only fear is that, if I don’t shave, when the pandemic is over and I take off the mask I will look like Gabby Hayes! (For you younger readers, ask your grandparents who Gabby Hayes was in the “good old days”.)
BEFORE the pandemic I would always stop at Casey’s on my early morning drive to the office and pick up a newspaper and then drive through Dairy Queen and pick up some breakfast to take to the office to start my day. That routine has also stopped. I drive from home to the office and make a couple of pieces of toast on a toaster that I dug out of storage in one of the cabinets in my office. It was forgotten but now sets on a table not far from my desk and is treated like another “honored’ piece of necessary office equipment. Every morning, it is two pieces of toast with butter and jelly. Life is good.
WE ALSO have a microwave in our office that I seldom used so I wasn’t that familiar with all of the different settings on it before the pandemic (How hard can it be to microwave something?) I’ve brought some Campbell’s soup with me for lunch and had that quite-a-bit — even though I thought the microwave made sounds like it was going to blow up the first time I warmed up a bowl! By the time this pandemic is over, I will probably be a renowned microwave chef! (I may start using a chef’s hat in my photo with this column.)
I ALSO have, on days that I don’t blow up the microwave with soup, good old peanut butter on bread, or a chicken salad sandwich, or turkey from home — the latter two on toasted bread, of course. Obviously, what I eat for breakfast or lunch is minor compared to protecting my family and loved ones including those who work for me, and in making sure our business continues to publish this newspaper each week and is delivered to you on time. I really appreciate all that my long-time staff has done during this period as all but one (who works part-time) continues to do their work from home. Thanks also to all who print and deliver the Trib to the post office and newsstands each week.
AS I AM writing this column at the office, I am not wearing any shoes and socks. Since no one is here, I thought it might feel good to try it — and I have to admit that my bare feet feel really good against the cold plastic of the mat under my chair!
So… when the pandemic is in the past, you might see a man who is wearing a suit and tie walking to the downtown post office with a Gabby Hayes beard and bare feet. That could be me with a real leftover look from the “new normal”.
–Reprinted from the April 29th print edition of the Decatur Tribune