Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Corona Virus Brings Shame

As panic over the corona virus sweeps the country world I am filled with a multitude of emotions. They range from my own panic and fear, to worry about what is yet to come  and also to shame.  Yes shame!  I am ashamed...at the people around me but also a wee little bit of shame at myself.

The corona virus has started to drastically affect my personal life here in Maryland.   My work is talking about changes that they can make to reduce risks and keep the business operational.  Jason’s boss has offered some short term and long term options for him in order to stay safe.  Things are totally up in the air about our employment. 

All of these changes are concerning. Will we have a paycheck.  Will we be able to survive.  Will we be able to get groceries when we need them?  When will we get sick because let’s face it, I don’t think it’s a matter of IF we get sick, but a matter of WHEN.  And with that thought comes the worries about how hard the virus will hit me!  I’m worried my family. I’m handling the concerns though.    I took time out yesterday at lunch to walk and pray about everything that is happening in our world. 

The worry escalated for me yesterday when I was at work.  The rumors were circulating about one of the other tenants in our building.   Apparently we have had a case of the corona virus  identified in our building.    According to the rumors it was two floors below me....but we share the elevators...the lobby and the parking garage.  Now in fairness, these are rumors and one rumor stated it was only a person that had direct contact with an infected person. But I will say this the rumors came from a pretty solid source AND the other floors had virtually no one working!   The building and parking garage were empty (except for the floors my employer  rents because we were fully staffed). 

 I have  called  my mother and I have told her that she probably won’t see my face for quite a while. I’m not risking taking this to her.  She is older and has some health concerns. (Diabetes, high blood pressure, etc). So I will just keep calling her. (My brother lives across the street but I will drop stuff off if they need me to....but I will wave through the windows...because I have come a lot closer to this virus that I want my mother to come).   So there is some real concern there about my health and the health of my loved ones.  

But I am also shamed.  I am shamed at my fellow Americans.   Jason and I get groceries every other week.  So a week and a half ago we went grocery shopping.  The stores were still relatively normal at that point.  I saw some signs of an impending panic.  The soap aisle was absolutely decimated and the bread aisle was a bit sparse.    But other than that there were no visible signs of what was to come.  Jason and I had talked and we agreed to beef up our perishable grocery purchases  to have a few spare meals....but we had no panic and we only picked up enough for maybe 4 extra meals). All was still ok.   But then in the ensuing week our world went belly up nuts!   The authorities started closing schools and businesses. People went into a panic mode!   I have always laughed about the ‘snowflake affect’ that causes people to run out to the stores to buy up toilet paper and bread anytime there is a threat of snow.  But the panic of an impending snowstorm has nothing on this panic!  This has been insane!  And I am ashamed at the selfishness I have seen in people.  I have seen people walking out of grocery stores carrying 4 or 5 big packs of toilet paper!  My word! You are going to be able to wipe the butts of a family of 10 for a year with what you just bought!!  How selfish are you?  There are people that really do need toilet paper Because they legitimately ran out and now they can’t get it because you have a bedroom full of toilet paper!

I initially laughed about the toilet paper panic and come up with two solutions for the off chance that I run out of toilet paper.  The first, I’ll just hop in the shower to clean myself!  The second option is that I go back to days long ago (think long long ago when they didn’t have toilet paper or think a little more recently to cloth diapers). I will just keep a bucket with some water and clothes detergent...or borax and we will use wash clothes to clean ourselves and then put the wash cloth in the bucket until it’s time to run a load of laundry.   No biggie!   I was secure and felt fine with my options in case we somehow ran through our 10 rolls of toilet paper that were left in our big package that we had purchased weeks ago!

But then something happened.  We ran into the grocery store for our bi-weekly stop to get water and fresh fruit.  We strolled through the store just out of curiosity.  I walked by the toilet paper and I saw those three packages left and here is where my shame comes.  I couldn’t help myself.  I put one of those packs in my cart!  I don’t need toilet paper.  I estimate that we use one roll per week.  That means that we had toilet paper for roughly 3 months!  I didn’t need it!  Yet there I was buying it!   I’m ashamed at my selfishness!   Sure, it’s going to be used....eventually.  But did I really need it?   Did I conceivably take it away from someone that really did need it?  Yes!   And that is to my shame.

I’m not writing this to shame anyone that did buy 10 packs of toilet paper or 20 loaves of bread that is slowly growing mold in their kitchen.  I am writing it because this pandemic is a chance to learn about ourselves.  It is a chance to see our perseverance and will to survive.  But it is also a chance to see how we handle adversity and hardship.   I had a minor setback with my toilet paper purchase, but I want to come through this pandemic in style with grace, ethic and kindness.  I only hope the world around me decides to do the same.