In COVID World, daily disruption is the new normal

My gym is closed, so my house is now my gym. Welcome to COVID World.

Strange times, man. That’s the only way I can think of it.

I’m a creature of routines, and for the most part they’ve served me well. I get up roughly the same time every day. Eat breakfast. My workout times are set, and it all dovetails nicely within my work schedule. I set aside time to write, sometimes for myself, sometimes for those of you reading here.

But it’s different now. My routines have been disrupted. Hell, all of our routines have been given one big ole flat tire on the highway of life.

COVID-19, the lovely little coronavirus that up until a couple of months ago was a curiosity to those of us in the West, has overturned our collective apple cart. Like it or not, we’re all having to adjust to this janky new normal.

A lot of what’s been altered is a series of first-world problems that are actually deeper than the term implies. After my city ordered most public service businesses to shut down, I lost access to my gym. Goodbye squat rack, sayonara deadlift platform, adios bench press and all the big bars and plates that go with them. What I’ve got at home: A scattering of smaller dumbbells, one kettlebell and some TRX straps. There’s a place on my back porch where I can do chin-ups, and I have my bike. I’m making a go of it, but it’s off to a bumpy start.

Saying that, I know there’s more to this crisis than a loss of my gym membership. At work, we’re enforcing social distancing. Some people are working on another floor now. Others are working from home. We’re doing a whole lot of G-chat to communicate, and adjusting to a workflow that’s unfamiliar and a little clunky. I’m sure we’ll get used to it. But again, it’s more disruption.

Comparatively speaking, my issues are  small. Others all around me are suffering much more.

This week, thousands of workers in all areas of the hospitality industry lost their jobs. Gone like the morning dew in a matter of hours, all because public safety had to trump commerce, even if that meant folks losing work. With the downturn has also come serious hits to aerospace, the airlines and the oil business. Before you scoff at the losses of big companies, keep in mind that tens of thousands of people in my city alone work in these areas. So do family members of mine in Texas. Layoffs for them loom large as corporations face the grim reality that a sea of red ink is about to swamp their finances for months to come, if not longer.

Having been on the losing side of such job cuts in the last recession, I can tell you that I feel for folks who have already lost work or are about to. And yeah, I’m nervous for my own liveliehood, too.

And cutting to the heart of it is this: Community spread of COVID-19 — that is, the disease being communicated freely in the population — is here in Tulsa, and one person has died. The man was a healthy person in his 50s who was diagnosed with the disease one day before he passed.

And as you read this, I learned only hours ago that a man in my own neighborhood was diagnosed with the new coronavirus. He’s quarantined in his house, fighting it off at home so far.

As I see it, disruption is all around, and more of it is to come. Stricter measures have been laid down almost daily, and yet I know from following this story since December that the U.S. is about two months behind the curve in responding to it. It’s probably going to get rougher before dawn breaks.

So sure, I miss my gym. I miss the races that all got canceled. I’ll miss the restaurants that had to shutter, and the movies that won’t play at the theater. The city streets are quiet, spring festivals canceled and plenty of uncertainty and fear lies ahead. This storm seems to be just getting warmed up.

I can’t say exactly how to respond to all this, other than trying to do what the scientists say. I’ll keep working. I’ll read more. Binge-watch a few more shows.

And I suppose I’ll go out to my back porch and do my chin-ups. It’s the best I can do to salvage some of my routines, virus or not.

Bob Doucette

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