The coronavirus has impacted millions of people all over the world. With businesses, retail, and schools shut down, people are staying home to stay safe. Some people have called this aspect of the situation a horror, while others have said it is a blessing in disguise.
At this point I am counting my “stay home” period as starting on my last day at work physically – March 10, 2020. My kids’ last day in school was March 11, so I only got one “free” day before we were all home together. It actually hasn’t been as bad as some people are making it out to be, and it does have its bright side – we are spending more time together as a family than ever before.
The kids no longer have the block of time spent in school each day, and there are no after school sports or clubs to occupy their time. They are not going out to go to a mall or visit friends, so basically we’re home most of the time.
Now, my wife and I are working from home and the kids are schooling from home. Despite little challenges with Google Classroom, Kami documents, and Zoom, we have managed to adjust to this world of online work and school for the most part. In one way it is rather surreal, and yet in another way we have been slowly gravitating to this lifestyle with increasingly more time spent online, so that we probably have been moving in this direction without realizing it.
Are we getting on one another’s nerves? Well, maybe a little sometimes, but we are getting out to the grocery store dressed like astronauts, and we can utilize the drive-through option for Starbucks and occasional Taco Bell runs.
This can help break up the day, but the thing that we all look forward to is the daily long walk. Once work and school sessions are done, the family goes out for a nice long walk – I went alone in the pouring rain the other day because I just needed to get outside.
The walks are not without incident. Seeing other people coming toward us is akin to see zombies on The Walking Dead. Of course, on the show you can get a sharp or blunt object and bludgeon the zombie for getting into your space, but that is not an option with virus zombies. Your best option is to cross over to the other side of the street, but my kids don’t always like that.
Sometimes one of my kids will say, “No, let’s see if they move across the street first.” It is then a game that feels like driving into the opposite lane on the street and hoping the other car will veer away.
Usually, the people coming toward us go off the pavement into the gutter, and we pass with a silent wave or a quiet nod. There is something solemn and off about living like this, but everyone has a need to get out and about, so it is wrong to blame people for wanting to enjoy the same thing that we are doing.
One thing I never noticed before is that during this pandemic people are walking their dogs on the sidewalk. People are also riding their bikes on the sidewalk. Before this crisis, I never saw that happen.
When we are walking and see a dog coming toward us with its owner, our reaction depends upon the size and breed of the dog. If it is a pit bull – or as in a case the other day of a woman with two pit bulls – we immediately cross over to the other side of the street. If it is a person walking a chihuahua, we might wait and see if they go into the gutter first, which they usually end up doing.
The long walks are something we look forward to each day, despite the fear of encountering virus walkers. When I think about The Walking Dead and this situation, there is definitely a correlation. I vividly remember the episode “TS-19” in season one. The group of survivors find themselves in the CDC in Atlanta. The last scientist there reveals it is a virus causing the zombies, and everyone has the infection and will turn into a zombie when they die, and the French almost found a cure, but as we all know almost is not good enough.
So, as this very real virus is causing death and crushing the economy, it is at least comforting to know that real scientists continue to work on a vaccine. Hopefully, by staying at home and away from people, we are flattening the curve and moving in the direction of ending this situation. Until then, my family will continue to look forward to going on our daily walks, even if it is slightly tarnished by the walking dread of encountering others like ourselves out for a daily, healthy diversion.