Business travel demands had me back on the road, almost immediately in the aftermath of 9/11. I got back on jets as I had been spending 3-5 days a week at that point for a few years. It didn't seem odd to me, but I could see the shell shock all around me, starting with the empty seats, on one early flight there were only two passengers. Those times were more than a bit eerie, but as we came out of the shock, America pulled together.
If you have ever had the misfortune of being in a serious car crash or a major near wreck, you are likely familiar with the unplanned but necessary chain reactions which follow SLAMMING on your breaks. Being tossed around inside your car, hopefully seat-belted, potential deployment of your airbags, shocks to your system, potential bruising and injury. The trauma to your body can last for weeks.
Welcome to an economy and new reality after multiple massive brake slams. Retailers and restaurant groups, as well as smaller local businesses, temporarily or permanently shutting their doors. Delta, the world's largest airline, on the verge of shut down, after multiple years of record profits and the recent hiring of thousands of new pilots and flight crew.
And there will be more. The ripples are just starting to hit. Sales and income taxes not collected and declining will impact everything from local school systems to state budgets. The federal government can spend and run up deficits, but your local municipality, county or state doesn't have that option. Services will have to be curtailed, and lay-offs there too will likely follow.
This isn't a speed bump, it's more like that car crash. BUT, if we work through this together, and help each other...not expecting our respective governments to handle every hiccup and detail we can and will get through this.
Some practical pointers for your day to day living, as lock-downs, shelter at home orders and even curfews expand in hot spots and metropolitan areas.
Limit your trips to grocery stores and shopping for essentials - Essential retailers and restaurants with limited service remain open. Don't make daily trips out, make a list and plan... You can carry 2-3 prepared meals home, or load up a cart (without hoarding) at the Big Box retailers or your local grocer. Most chains are giving their first hour of business to the most fragile populations. So shop later in the day and perhaps learn the stores where you shop more closely, cutting down on your 'shopping time' and getting quickly in and back out.
Recreate outside when possible, but in good weather and keep your distance - Sunshine is a natural disinfectant. Carry along a spray bottle of hand sanitizer or vinegar (and water), or lemon juice...all astringents which reportedly pierce the shell of the cell of the virus, killing it on contact. To prevent going stir crazy, bike, hike, walk or run and if you do so in pairs or with family, keep the safe social distance with the folks you encounter, and leave the longer visits and catch-up chats with folks you encounter for online or later.
Use this downtime constructively - Write actual letters, not just Emails and start with closest family and friends. Offer them your love, friendship and words of prayer and support. Start spring cleaning and garage/attic purging. List items for sale on eBay. Make the most of this new 'free-time'...don't just binge processed foods and Netflix.
Go through your pantry extensively - This is the time to go through your fridge and pantry, tossing out all expired date goods. COVID19 may be a current threat, but you may wish for that if you give yourself botulism, ptomaine or another bacterial food poisoning by consuming long expired consumer packaged goods.
In the best of cases, normalcy begins to return in weeks, not months. Those brakes will cause a deep economic trough. Help is on the way, but we will all need to do some heavy lifting on our own. Spread out consumption of your resources, support as best you can local businesses. Practice your faith of choice to keep your spirits up and be an exemplar for others. And like Kate Smith sang in Good Bless America, hopefully before too long we will all be back in “…Our home, sweet home,” with our nation much more as we remember it…pre-wreck and two weeks ago. Stay safe and healthy.