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CITIZEN COLUMN: Back to normal? Not everything, please
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CITIZEN COLUMN: Back to normal? Not everything, please

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When the faucet in our kitchen was in desperate need of replacement, the pandemic was near its infectious peak. A call to our plumber generated a COVID-19 plan for a contactless house call to install the new faucet that I was to pick out and purchase from a local source.

My husband and I huddled around our desktop computer screen and logged in at Lowes.com, the place my husband liked to spend hours at prior to the pandemic. In seconds we configured our search options to only show us the kitchen faucets that the store on McLeod Boulevard had in stock. We eliminated the multi-handle faucets, the odd color faucets and the two that were approaching prices that would require a bank loan. What was left was the dozen or so that matched our needs.

Two hours later, a Lowe’s employee handed the faucet to us through the car window. Their curbside pickup and online purchase was a flawless, painless transaction with minimum contact with another person.

During the early days of the pandemic when normal things were turning into chaos, I was informed that a scheduled doctor appointment would be a telemedicine visit and a video conference. My husband, the voice of reason, calmed me and assured me we could make that happen.

To make the video visit work with our home computer, we needed an inexpensive camera. Office Depot, according to its website, reported that it had just what we needed at its local store. Once again, the online purchase and the curbside pickup that was unheard of prior to the pandemic took place without a fault.

On the appointed time and date, I visited with my doctor on a live video, and he refilled my prescriptions electronically. My pharmacy informed me that I could choose to pick the meds up at their drive thru or they would, if I so desired, deliver them to my door, at no charge.

Why would I want to go back to the way it used to be?

Recent news articles report that some employers that allowed employees to work from home during the pandemic were having to offer pay raises, increased benefits, bonus money, vacation allowances and bribes to lure their employees back to the office. These employees liked working from home, and they don’t want to go back to the office. Workers are doing their jobs in their pajamas, saving gas on the commute, eliminated the need for childcare, and they don’t have supervisors breathing down their necks. Why would they want to go back to normal?

At our house, we have tried many of the services that were created as a result of the pandemic. Door Dash has delivered food to us from local restaurants. On a cold, rainy weekend while feeling unmotivated and unwilling to brave the elements, we ordered groceries online and picked them up at Food Lion. The clerk had them in the trunk so fast, I’m not sure he heard the thank you I shouted as he was heading back to the store.

Online shopping has become a normal activity. I no longer have the desire to go to the mall, and I only visit a store when necessary. I like the new normal.

There are new normal activities going on behind the scenes as well. Supply chains have learned some lessons about what happens when demand for their products rapidly rise. Toilet paper manufacturers and distributors found out what it was like to be unable to supply consumers with basic necessities. They must have felt shame when they saw the empty shelf photos of the paper product aisles at Walmart. They report that improvements in ramping up production when needed and changes to distribution procedures are in place to help prevent the embarrassing long-term shortages from occurring in the future. They do not want to go back to their old normal ways.

I hear many people say they will be glad when we return to normal, but we may need to be careful about what we wish for. In trying times, we learned to adapt, improve and make our lives better. In many ways I don’t want to go back to “normal.”

Recently my sister Donnette mentioned having a family get-together. She wanted us all to meet at Red Lobster for a lunch or dinner soon. A Red Lobster get together from time to time was a normal family activity prior to the pandemic that I always looked forward to. The pandemic is responsible for many changes that made our lives better. I like some of them. But family and friend activities are one of the few things that cannot be improved upon.

However, a virtual teleconference with my doctor in lieu of driving to his office and sitting in his cold waiting room and freezing exam room is a normal I could get used to.

Dr. Darlene Atkinson-Moran grew up in Olanta. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She is retired from the education profession and now resides in Florence with her husband, Michael. Contact her at citizencolumnist@florencenews.com.

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