Saturday, May 16, 2020

Lessons Learned from the Pandemic So Far (1-10)

In no particular order...
  1. Plan on your fellow citizens to behave erratically and unreasonably, whether they are fleeing the city to save themselves from the virus (and possibly infecting others in their new locale), using the DIY method to ensure their neighbors are quarantining at home, or  fighting over restrictions set by various retail establishments (to the extent of "killing the messenger", metaphorically speaking).
  2. Expect your fellow citizens to be utterly unprepared for a disaster of this (or any) magnitude.  They may have no money, no food, no shelter, and no assistance from the government.  Needless to say, such an environment creates a lot of desperate people.  Being financially, physically, and materially prepared for a disaster should be your top concern.
  3. Always, always prepare before a disaster hits.  There should never be a reason you have to wait in a long line for toilet paper, fooda gun, or anything else for that matter (mark my word, there will be people who live in hurricane-prone areas who will be lined up to buy plywood hours before a hurricane is set to hit this happens EVERY year).  Buying an extra $10 worth of food and supplies to stockpile each week will put you far ahead of the average, unprepared person.
  4. Prepare for the unexpected.  Obviously this is easier said than done.  Even I wasn't prepared for at-home "corona haircuts" (although a beard and mustache trimmer will substitute for an actual hair trimmer in a pinch and do a reasonably good job...).  Ditto gathering the tech you need like webcams and microphones and lighting systems for work/school video conferencing, finding sewing supplies to make masks, etc.  Consider what supplies and skills you would need to become 100% self-sufficient and work towards that end.
  5. Expect every system you have ever relied on to go to shit.  Every system we rely on on a regular basis is just robust enough to cover "normal".  The minute things become abnormal, systems can fail.  This can be as simple as relying on Amazon's two-day delivery or having Door Dash bring you your regular dinner (both of these systems were very over taxed as the pandemic ramped up) to being able to pivot if your local stores are out of flour/rice/toilet paper/etc (while people were fighting over rice in the early days of the pandemic, there was still plenty of flour on the shelves, when the flour was gone, there were still plenty of lentils and corn meal).  Don't even get me started on people prioritizing toilet paper over food...panicking people make poor decisions.
  6. Be able to entertain yourself.  In our "always on" world, especially if you live in a city, entertainment options abound.  Most people were not prepared to entertain themselves all day, every day for weeks on end.  The internet helps, of course, but boredom is real for many people.  If you are old enough, you will remember that pre-internet, it was possible to entertain yourself all day without outside resources.  And if you are even older, you will remember activities that people and families did when they didn't even have a TV to help keep them entertained.
  7. Cut way (way!) back on media and social media.  The vast majority of pandemic-related information shared via these channels is utterly wrong.  Even top scientists have provided incorrect, or poorly explained, information that left the public more confused than they were before.  There are enough resources online to correct or clarify information (from trusted sources!) that you hear or read about.  tldr; don't believe everything you hear or read, do your own research.
  8. Be prepared to help others during a disaster.  Although we were materially and financially prepared to help others if needed, we weren't thinking about helping people emotionally during the pandemic.  As it stands, we check in with a half dozen friends and relatives each day who are elderly and staying at home by themselves for weeks on end which is both lonely and isolating for them.  So we call, text, Zoom, or FaceTime just to brighten their day.  A couple of relatives had financial emergencies which we were willing and able to help out with, and a few times we have provided meals to people to help them out.
  9. Use common sense.  I talked about panic buying toilet paper earlier.  If people think about it and use a bit of common sense, they would realize there are many ways to wipe your ass without toilet paper (something 70% of the world does on a daily basis).  The same with wearing masks.  I have yet to see people wearing masks in public in a way that will really prevent them from catching the virus.  Not that they shouldn't wear masks which are marginally effective at stopping droplet spread, but staying a distance from people, not touching their face, and sanitizing their hands will be more effective than wearing a mask any day.
  10. Be flexible.  When things are changing on a daily basis, being able to "go with the flow" instead of stressing over everything, is much better for your health and sanity.  If you run out of rice, make bread.  If you have an online meeting that conflicts with your kid's online school, the meeting might have to take precedence.  If everyone is in a funk because of the lockdown, camp out overnight in the back yard.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime event which can either break people down or expand their sense of adventure.  I would choose adventure.

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