• Mike Hoffey

Common Sense and My New Normal





Since the beginning of the coronavirus, my mindset and that of my wife's has not really shifted. Initially, we felt OK to be in the camp with everyone else. Stay at home, take the necessary precautions, wash our hands, don't sneeze, and avoid going out into the world. Our employers helped the cause as we were both ordered to work from home 'until further notice.'


As the days went by, we became a bit agitated, curious and began to venture out to stores, parks, and gatherings to see how the world was reacting. We saw the masks and fear in peoples eyes. People took big swings when they walked around you, making sure to not invade our private zones. We got frustrated with the antiquated counting methods at WalMart and Home Depot and the circle stickers on the ground. We didn't like it. Ignorance? OK, but being forced to accept it, not so crazy about the new normal. I took a picture of the 'toilet paper wars' at the local grocery store and learned a new term ' fear buying. One roll per family per day. It was the low-grade toilet paper my wife despises anyway.


What's Different Now?


Three months in and restrictions have been relaxed. We're excited. We find this new level of freedom 'justified' and energizing to start our normal routines in a world still confused on going forward on a path that is still dark and murky. We have friends over on the weekends and hug. Handshakes are still off limits and we are OK with that. A hug is much better anyway. It all feels so much more refreshing, relieved of the chains and self-quarantine requirements.


Business is Business


No one has suffered the wrath more than businesses. Carry out got stale and boring. We wanted the real experience. Day one of the re-opening of our favorite watering hole was like visiting a senior citizen home. Staff looking robotic, masks, feverishly washing down menus, tables seeming ten feet apart, no bar stools, and the inability to read facial expressions. It was a drudgery one-hour survival experience. Two weeks later, the bar stools are six inches apart, staff occasionally wear masks (they're young kids), a band is playing in the parking lot, no one is social distancing and no patrons are wearing masks. I asked the manager 'why the change?' He said 'we couldn't take it. We said screw it. But look around. Everyone is happier.' Then he bought me a welcome back shot and we toasted to a newer more relaxed normal.


Consumer Fear


The recent polls tell a different story. Three months displaced from early March, and consumer fear still seems to be prevalent. The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that two-thirds of voters said they always wear a mask when they leave the home, compared to 21% who sometimes wear one and 15% who said they rarely or never do.


Two-thirds of voters said they are uncomfortable flying on an airplane or attending a public event with a large group of people. There goes the summer concerts I was hopeful would happen. The Rolling Stones were set to hit our city! Half of those surveyed said they were uncomfortable sending their children to school, and 54% said they weren't ready to dine out at a restaurant. Whether that fear is driven by media overexposure or common sense, it looks like it's going to be a long road out of Eden. Colleges are figuring out how to assemble 30,000 students on a campus. Some schools are drifting toward an only online experience, and dealing with severe defection of incoming students electing to find another campus to enjoy 'the real experience.'


Leading In a Dark Tunnel


Perhaps the most disturbing news was the number of people who say that the leadership of our country has lost control. 80% said we are 'spiraling out of control.' Look, smart leaders are doing what they can. Action is being taken. Common sense and rational decision making at the state and local level seems to be working. Some are calling this a warning sign from God. The end of the world. A punishment for the sins of history. Perhaps.


No leader took a class in Pandemic 101 to prepare us. This isn't the 10th time we've been through this. I applaud the leaders who are guiding us to light through this dark tunnel. They care as much as we do. It's a fresh breath of air to minimize the focus on establishing their persona and brand. They have real-world issues that impact every person. I'll give them an A- for their efforts.


My Corona Common Sense


Yes, I know. It's going to be a long ride with so much consumer fear. I'm sticking to my approach. Exercising some caution but staying within the swim lane of my corona common sense approach. I don't watch any more news. That in itself has been a refreshing relief. If my plan backfires, I'll be sure to let you know.