Being socially responsible in unconventional times

I was reading a magazine where the columnist remarked on how his car had stayed on the driveway for several months. Part of being socially responsible, he admitted. In these times, irrespective of your political leanings, it still does come down to how we view social responsibility and it does take many forms. All of which is to say, practices now embraced will be with us for many more years and we all have to be more than a little aware of both our surroundings and those with whom we socialize.

A few times now, the west end of our street has been holding driveway gatherings. Throughout late summer there were occasions when we carried folding beach chairs to each other’s driveways, practiced social distancing, did a few elbow bumps, and conversed. Those impromptu gatherings often ran into the evening and even as I now forget the topics of the day, the conversations were lively as I recall. As a socially responsible outlet for our small community, it certainly went a long way toward reinforcing that we, as a community, still like to spend time together.

I am writing this as the snow falls here in Northern Colorado. We are not sure of the impact this snowfall is having on the big fires raging up and down the continental divide. Hopefully, it will help stall the encroachment on our neighborhoods even as stepping outside to grill a tri-tip steak has its downside. On the other hand, standing over the grill has its benefits. We have entertained a family that has relocated to Arizona and have entertained a couple of friends who flew their plane to us for a weekend of socializing. We have entertained business clients over cocktails and nibblies. All the while conscious of our need to be careful but on all occasions, our friends and colleagues have been tested for COIVD-19 in the days before coming around to our home.

We have been tested now on two occasions. The first time was as a result of us telling our local GP that we had just returned from a voyage to the South Pacific on a Princess cruise ship. Turned out, we were positive after all. For Influenza B, no less! The second time was following the report by the couple who were living with us that a friend of the family had tested positive, but then, on this occasion the results were negative. Our family and friends back in Australia are very concerned by the news that continues to stream into the country about the devastation COVID-19 is having on all Americans, but reading our posts and looking at the pictures we include, we have left them somewhat perplexed. Where is your social responsibility? Why aren’t you self-isolating they are asking as they scroll down the horrific statistics they are being given.

Social responsibility takes many forms. It’s whether you stop at a yellow light or zoom on through. It’s whether you help yourself to a couple of coins left in the dispenser at the grocery checkout as you swipe your plastic. It’s about keeping your sidewalks clear of snow after each storm has moved on. For Margo and me it’s also about making sure the guests at our home experience something similar to what they would experience had they not left their own homes. In every discussion of late about social responsibility as we make sure our beach chairs maintain the correct distance, it’s come down to how we view this global pandemic and the immediate impact it has had on each of us.

We have complained that our trip to Europe has been cancelled. Twice! And our planned trip to Australia and New Zealand for my birthday in 2021 has likewise been cancelled. The many business events we regularly plan on attending each year have been postponed or indeed cancelled outright. ZOOM has dominated entries on our calendar and this week, I have to “tape” a presentation that will be back-up to yet another ZOOM presentation in case there are network issues. With no audience it will be a challenge and I continue to push it away toward the hard deadline, for now.

We are hoping that this snowstorm is an aberration and fall weather returns. We are almost finished decorating our downstairs patio – bar and stools, high tops, umbrella and chairs and a fire pit are all in place. Only mounting a couple of shelves remains. Sure would be nice to sit outside with a cooling fall night and toast s’mores, but for now, with fires raging even as snow is falling, lighting fires of any kind is really not being socially responsible. Next year, perhaps? Are you looking forward to resuming normal programming in 2021 or will COVID-19 hang around for all of 2021 putting on hold any plans we might have for the year?

As we now head into the holiday season we have no plans for Thanksgiving or for that matter, Christmas. The holiday season is looking pretty grim. Our daughter Anna and her family aren’t ones that view COVID-19 as a trifling matter as their children are particularly susceptible to anything nasty. We haven’t erected a Christmas tree in years anyway, as it was really Margo’s Mom’s holiday and since she passed away it just hasn’t been the same.

This year, being socially responsible as we now have become, the cars will likely sit dormant on our driveway accumulating snow as it blows in as we ask ourselves, is that necessarily bad? Does it mean we are missing out on something? Does drifting snow make our coupe look more like a station wagon? One thing that this extended period of living and working from home has shown us has been how we have come to genuinely like this experience; is this necessarily bad? 

This may fly in the face of conventional wisdom, but then again, that’s why we are together. We have talked about a return to a new normal but have not come to any conclusion as yet. We didn’t really experience anything that changed going into this period so we aren’t expecting to experience anything different as we come out of it. A return to normal may be something we miss entirely.

Summer gave way to fall even as this snowfall reminds us that winter is coming. The temperature outside was just 14F (or -10C) and when I stepped outside to sweep aside the snow that had accumulated on the grill, it felt every bit as cold as the numbers suggest. Then again, we have fireplaces on and the HVAC is working just fine. Furthermore, it seems as though the dreadful fires of the past month for the most part, have been extinguished! 

Shortly we will be watching the final race in the Indy series for 2020. Social responsibility comes in many forms and takes from us many of the things we so often take for granted. (Sneak peek about future post; our good friends grandson ended season placing third overall in the series, his sophomore year!) But again, those dreadful afternoon skies blackened with soot appear to be squarely a thing of the past. Those wonderful blue skies of Colorado have returned with the onset of winter!

For Margo and me, even as we have seen little change to our daily routines, we still carry a mask with us at all times, continue to elbow bump while we offer a smile in greeting and yes, wash our hands incessantly. We continue to be in good health and make sure we see our GP, virtually, whenever there is any sign of a problem – last thing we want is to risk having to go for tests and / or checkups needlessly.

We continue to enjoy each other’s company and with that our responsibility to each other, all of this talk of social responsibility is simply a reminder to be nice! To be friendly! To be good partners and most of all, find new and creative ways to continue enjoying life unabated. From Margo and me, our sincerest wishes as we head into the holiday season and we trust that you too are enjoying as much as possible this adjustment to being part of a society we never expected to embrace. 



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