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OPINION: Observations on a pandemic

One of the ironies about all this pandemic stuff is that we are now, finally, getting serious about staying home if we catch a cold or get the flu.

How many times have you hauled yourself in to work after an overnight binge of NeoCitran and Kleenex? And, conversely, how many times have you recoiled in horror when a co-worker, who has undergone the above, drags themselves in to work and plops down right next to you after, of course, sneezing 14 times in the breakroom?

Maybe, just maybe, after all this COVID-19 stuff is done, we’ll be a little more serious about staying home when we catch a cold or a ‘regular’ flu. We should have learned this long before now. And, hopefully, we’ll have employers who are more understanding of those who call in sick.

One of the other interesting aspects of this pandemic is how many people, thanks to technology, who can, and are, working from home. I already work from home, so it wasn’t too much of an adjustment. Being able to continue to work in these trying times is a blessing that we all took for granted just a couple of months ago.

When all this washes through it will be interesting to see how many companies realize that having their employees work from home isn’t all that bad. When I was hapless editor stuck in the cogs of newspaper bureaucracy, I advocated many times that reporters could, and should, work from home.

There was always a long list of reasons why we couldn’t, it usually involved a boss who couldn’t imagine being a boss without people, within eyesight, to boss around.

Now, as a new reality settles in, it will be interesting to see how many of those bosses found out that their employees didn’t abscond with the company laptop (which was an actual reason given to me once as to why reporters shouldn’t have laptops) and also realize that production didn’t go down. That, of course, leads to the realization that leasing a 10,000-square-foot office downtown is simply a drag on the bottom line.

The other change to our economy may a move to the cashless society. I’m regretting that I haven’t gone in to my bank yet and got a ‘touch’ debit card. It certainly gives more peace of mind in these days of being wary of everything we touch. I did, however, succumb to the Starbucks app. I resisted it for a long time simply because one less thing tracking my every movement is a good thing. But giving up coffee? Yikes, it truly is the end times.

And speaking of the economy: Remember way back in the Before Times … a couple of months ago … when rail blockades were the biggest threat to the national economy? Remember those folks who were holding up signs saying “Shut Down Canada.” Well, be careful what you ask for. This is what shutting down Canada look like. So if, and when, you see one of those people holding one of those signs, ask them what this accomplishes.

One of the silver linings in all of this is that social media has, at least in part, shown that it actually has value. The Trudeau haters are still there frothing at the mouth, but there have been a multitude of absolutely wonderful things going on online as we use social media to stay in touch with friends and family. Everything from the Hearts of PG initiative, which has gone global, to people finding innovative ways to use social media to lighten all our days wouldn’t have been possible without social media and/or technological innovations.

With schools in the province closed indefinitely, technology is (regrettably for students) making the difference between continued learning or an extra-long summer vacation.

In closing … keep your distance.

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