From crazy discussions at our faculty lunch table, to crazy discussions with students in class, to trying to come up with constantly changing coordinated plans for the school and the coffee shop as the ground continues to shift.
On Thursday, I went to visit my mother in the rehab nursing home where she is staying until mid-week, and as I was leaving, they were posting big Day-Glo neon-colored signs at all the entrances saying visitors were no longer welcome.
Today’s visit to the grocery store was other worldly, with so many odd things out of stock, and too many shoppers swathed in a sense of something other than “weekly grocery shopping” about them.
It wasn’t like blizzard prep. The bread shelves looked like a turkey carcass– bare except occasional gristle, but Doritos were fully stocked. People weren’t buying to party for a day or two, they were buying to bolster their chances of survival.
There were hushed whispers between husbands and wives over canned goods. There were large families, carefully combing coupons trying to stretch out as far as possible what could be the last visit to the store for a while.
Then there were most folks, trying to gently move through the panic to grab a couple of things, maybe like they would on any Sunday; but the way they moved through the aisles was nothing like any Sunday anyone had ever experienced in a Tops or Wegmans or Dash’s before.
As somebody who has spent decades communicating with people through tragedies and calamities, I feel like I have an innate feeling for what people want to hear– what people need to hear during times like these.
I’ve been writing words and coordinating plans for a coffee shop and a private high school in the midst of a public health crisis, but it’s no different than hosting an overnight talk show during the October surprise storm or wandering the streets of Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina.
Just like in the movies, just like when the power’s out for weeks at a time, people want to know in the midst of chaos, that someone, somewhere, has something under control… and that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a mirage– and that things might be different, but eventually OK.
It’s the role we all need to play in the movie that we’re all living in.
We’re all going to need reassurance and a life preserver or two before this thing goes away… so, when you can–
Be the guy who reassures others that everything is going to be OK– and work to do whatever you can do in your power to make sure things are all right.
Be the gal who has things under control, and throw out a life preserver or two when it feels safe.
If we all feel good about reaching out when we need to… and we’re all there to grab a hand in trouble when we can… we’ll all come through this a little battered– but just fine when eventually, this all just becomes another one of those experiences that make us stronger and wiser.