By David Carroll
I woke up today with a much brighter outlook than I had a year ago.
I remember the fear, the uncertainty, and the eerie quiet in my neighborhood. The sounds of school buses chugging by, and folks going to work had been replaced by stillness. The era of masks, distancing, and elbow bumps had begun.
My daily journey to the TV station came to a screeching halt. A production crew transformed my den into a home studio, with intimidating technical gear. I’ve never been good at changing a light bulb, and suddenly I was asked to transmit a broadcast signal. It took only one snafu to keep me off the air, and I created a new one each day.
A writer for the Los Angeles Times summed it up: “We are not working from home. We are living at work.”
One year later: Like flowers blooming in the spring, our smiles are gradually returning. Day by day, the masks will disappear. The vaccines are working. Many people who were misled by misinformation spreaders finally came around. My friend Matt Haase put it this way: “I’m amazed that people I know from high school that couldn’t pass Algebra suddenly became experts in viral medicine.”
It isn’t completely over, and the new variant strains could still wreak havoc. Still, we are moving forward with a positive attitude. Our post-COVID world will be different, but in some ways it might be better.
When I asked readers how the lessons of the pandemic would change their lives, one woman wrote, “I will always use curbside grocery pick-up. I have never liked strangers breathing down my neck while I’m standing in line.”
Others added the joys of porch sitting, outdoor dining, cleaner hotel rooms, and improved personal hygiene habits. One mentioned a new landscape. “Why would anyone build a multi-story office complex?” he asked. “We’ve proven we can get just as much work done at home.” He makes a good point.
A woman added, “I’m glad I won’t have to wear a mask ALL the time, but at least I will have that option without being stared at. I like to hide behind mine. It’s nice not to have to wear makeup when I leave the house. Plus they feel good on cold days.” I totally get that, but I hope eye contact makes a comeback. I miss making a connection with new people.
I can also relate to this person’s opinion: “My challenge will be keeping my home as uncluttered as it is now. It has never been cleaner. I have used the pandemic as an excuse to weed out clothing and other items that have gone untouched for years, or even decades. Yes, I really was that bored, but it has paid off. My home seems bigger now, because I have created more space.”
Opinions are mixed on Zoom gatherings and conversations that have largely replaced office meetings and family visits. One reader said, “I hope we continue to have them. I hate in-person meetings, and I hope people continue to stay six feet away from me.” Of course, not everyone feels that way. Here’s a polar opposite point of view: “As soon as it is permissible, I will smother my family and friends with hugs, and they had better get ready, because it’s gonna be big!”
Many readers say they are looking forward to the spontaneous moments that disappeared in 2020. “I feel like I have been in prison,” one man wrote. “I can’t wait to go to a live music concert again.”
Another person said, “I have really missed last-minute invitations. I love it when a friend calls and says, hey let’s go downtown and get some dessert and see a show. I used to take things like that for granted. Never again!”
A female reader wrote, “I should be ashamed to say this, but I miss trying on clothes in stores. It may sound silly to some people, but it’s important to me.”
I am in full agreement with this comment. “I look forward to driving more. I’m paying an outrageous amount for car insurance, and the odometer is about where it was a year ago. I might as well get my money’s worth.”
And this one: “I used to think I wanted peace and quiet. Well, I’ve had enough of that. I need some noise and fun.”
Maybe the best words of all come from Samantha Dmochowski, a registered nurse: “Surround yourself with those you love and make your home a place you love to be. That way if you’re ever “stuck” with them again, it’s the best place to be.”
This renewed optimism is why I’m singing along to one of my favorite oldies. “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.” I wish the same for you.
(David Carroll is a Chattanooga TV news anchor and radio host. You may follow him at ChattanoogaRadioTV.com, or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405)