Column: Reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic

Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way

I don’t even have to close my eyes to visualize my dad spouting off one of his favourite adages at times like this.

Dear old dad would shake his head in bewilderment at his fellow man when they were acting childish and ponder at the chaos for a second or two.

Then with a frump, followed by a dramatic raising and lowering of his shoulders, he would blurt out, “Lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.”

Apparently it was a military euphemism by origin, or at least that was dad’s spin on it.

He would quickly remind me that, “Your grandpa believes the same thing. You either take charge, or allow someone else to do so, but don’t simply do nothing and stare at your belly button.”

Dad was generally a man of action and did not suffer fools well. He sadly, also lacked much patience or tenderness — at least on the outside.

Tolerance and gentleness were not things he learned or mastered as a young person growing up.

Still, his ability to cut through the rhetoric and take a position was impressive and served himself and others well.

Great community man. However, not much on the home front.

It’s a genetic germ I have to be cautious of.

Regardless, my dad would have gone off his rocker watching the world go nuts in grocery stores — hoarding, selfless acts of paranoia disguised as survival, independent actions with social ramifications.

Ironically, despite his personal control in such scenarios, dad was also obsessive-compulsive. I have no idea how he functioned in such a complex way.

Dad was the sort of fellow that was needed near the top at times like this, when the world is spinning at treacherous speed with chaos, fear, and change engulfing day to day lives.

When in charge he (and others like him) are much better doing something than not. Stuck at home, dad would have been an insane bear, impossible to be around, and easily consumed by cabin fever after a day or two.

Good thing I take after my mom.

While many folks perceive me as a social butterfly, close friends understand I am a loner at heart. An enigma of sorts, I am comfortable around people, but prefer to be alone or certainly with one or two people max.

I can comfortably go weeks without seeing or talking to anyone. My favourite hobbies are hiding in my garden, canoeing, and (when I could breathe better) hiking alone in the mountains.

As a youngster, I spent many of my weekends backpacking by myself around the valley while others were off partying.

Read more: 50 things to do at home during pandemic

Read more: Pandemic sees Americans turn to pot in record numbers

For the better part of the past 15 years I have worked out of my home writing columns, books and running my former strategic planning and public relations company off my home computer.

After 30 years of either full-time journalism, music or environment work surrounded by crowds, I welcomed the change and still do.

I do not feel ‘stuck’ or ‘trapped’ at home. For me, the only real adaption has been not going to city hall for council meetings or to a pub for a Friday beer and burger.

Of course, I am also adapting to Tez being home full-time — which is different for both of us. (I’m thinking I like it more than her…lol).

One habit Tez and I have continued during these times of adaptation has been watching the news together. In doing so, I get a better idea of the insanity taking place in the world outside my door.

Tez, despite her diabetes issues, is still the one that braves the world to get the occasional groceries as my suppressed immune system makes it even more absurd to consider leaving the house.

Watching TV, we find it hard to believe some people are so clueless or self-centred as to still ignore warnings and pleas to not congregate or be in close physical contact with others.

It’s difficult to comprehend how despite around the clock, updated news about the deadly virus — the fear factor does not sink in.

This disease kills people. No one is guaranteed safe passage. This morning as I send this email with my column off to the Capital News, we’ve learned Prince Charles has contracted the virus.

What does one do with such a scenario when the safety of all is placed in the hands of a few idiots who refuse to obey basic guidelines of survival? The answer takes me back to the harsh world of reality my father thrived in.

We cannot afford to suffer fools.

While the ‘normal’ world may have had the option of simply tolerating or ignoring such selfish stupidity in the big picture, the big picture has now changed.

We are it.

What we do directly and dramatically impacts those around us. Never before in our lives, have our actions had the potential to impact others as we face today.

That is why if you have travelled anywhere recently it is imperative you stay home and work out of your house, alone.

Living and working with family members is logical, but otherwise — adapt. Many businesses are learning to have employees work out of their own homes if possible.

Very soon, perhaps even before this column is printed, severe rules and guidelines will be enacted by government curtailing people gathering for work or play unless essential.

Those still not listening will pay an ultimate cost. Play smart, play safe, stay healthy.

Stay alive.


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