A Week in the Life of a germaphobe…on the front lines…of COVID-19

A Week in the Life of a germaphobe…on the front lines…of COVID-19

When I watched the news last night I heard a lot about people across the country, and in Georgia, not respecting the seriousness of the COVID-19 virus. We were ‘out in it’ all week, and from what we experienced that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I thought it might be helpful, comforting or enlightening to give you a run-down of what we experienced during the first full week of high anxiety. 

 I honestly didn’t know what to expect at 6:30 a.m. last Monday morning. Would our people show up for work?  Would we be able to get fuel for our trucks and equipment? Would our suppliers be open to buy plants and all of the operating supplies we need.  Would our phone stop ringing and our email stop dinging?  

I never questioned whether I would go to work, but I wasn’t sure about everyone else. People rely on us for a variety of things, both outside and inside the home.  We have known many of you for more than a decade and you call on us to help with all kinds of problems around your home. Since we can operate at safe distances – at least 6’ away from all but a small number of coworkers – we intend to be available as much as possible to continue to help.  Whether it be moving a heavy delivery into your home, helping a family member in or out of a wheelchair, or something unusual like mowing your lawn, blowing your patio or planting your flowers. 

A few observations from the “front lines”:

If you’re hearing that people aren’t taking it seriously and aren’t honoring the six-foot safety zone, that has not been our experience.  This week we have purchased items for clients, picked up packages, met contractors while people were traveling – in every instance (except for ‘Janice’, an angry personal-space-violator in Costco that nearly caused a brawl) we experienced people exercising extreme caution and keeping their distances.  We have also witnessed people like us who actually wipe the pump and keypad AFTER getting gas! A simple, magnanimous act we all would benefit from.

While most people are being very responsible, there are still people like ‘Janice’.  We take this so seriously we’re asking Costco to revoke Janice’s membership. If someone chooses to ignore the warnings, they can put their own lives at risk, but not those of other people.

There is product on the shelves at grocery stores, Costco, etc. But it is still very hit or miss.  Costco is limiting the number of people in the stores and encouraging safe distances between shoppers, which is easier to do in the wide, warehouse aisles.  Publix (especially West Paces) and Kroger make it more difficult to keep a safe distance, but they tend to have a more stable supply, albeit in smaller quantities.  I have found that if you go early in the morning (as they open) you can find the basics. Rainy days also seem to stifle the crowds. Throughout the week we have found chicken, milk, eggs, Clorox bleach (jugs, no wipes), frozen pizza and fortunately, my personal favorite, ice cream.  

You still need to be careful in the stores.  You absolutely can keep a 6-8’ distance, but it’s like “defensive driving” – you have to pay attention.  We take the extra steps of taking our own Clorox wipes into the stores and immediately disinfecting our hands when we re-enter our vehicles.

 It seems toilet paper has become the new Holy Grail.  Some people are panicking over it. There is no rational reason to buy an 11-year supply of toilet paper, but people are doing it.  If you’re in need, forget Costco for now. We’ve found stashes at CVS, Walgreens and some of these smaller drug stores. And if you’re willing to take an 8-mile drive OTP, check Ollie’s and other deep-discounters.

Let us know if you’re in need of something – we’ll keep a lookout and pick it up on one of our many runs.  To be clear, this is not something we take lightly – it’s risky and we treat it as such, taking extra precautions at every stop.  

 While there may not be a plethora of handy Clorox wipes or pre-mixed hand sanitizer, we have found good ole, 8.25% Clorox bleach in a variety of stores.  Mix a couple of ounces in a spray bottle with water (the mix rates are on the jug) and voila – spray it on a paper towel and you have a Terminator-class Clorox wipe.

We have no idea how long this goes on, but as long as we can operate safely, we intend to do so. We have a lot of people that depend on us for a variety of daily tasks, and employees that depend on us to put food on their tables.  Unfortunately, at this writing the direct-deposit government check that congress is debating is like a Kleenex in a Cat 5 hurricane. If we can safely avoid putting our employees in the unemployment line, we intend to do so.  

 When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’ – Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers)

 In the meantime, we’re starting a movement.  We’re putting our Christmas lights back out. They make people happy, and a lot of people are really scared – not so much fear of the virus itself, but fear of not being able to provide food and shelter for their families.  Do what you can to take the edge off:

  • Christmas lights are guaranteed to brighten someone’s day – we’ll even do it for you if you like
  • When you order a necessity from Amazon, order an extra for a friend or neighbor.
  • Donate to the food bank – we’ll pick it up and deliver it for you.
  • If you have an elderly neighbor, make sure they have your cell number, just in case.  Better yet, pick up some groceries for them on your next trip. The more trips that we can combine, the more social distancing we’re achieving.  

Pardon our social distance, but we’re going to keep our distance.  When you see us at your home, we’ll just be smiling and waving. But please, call us for anything.  If we can’t solve it, we probably know someone who can. Wash your hands, keep your distances and don’t touch your face – a client who is an infectious disease specialist suggested tying a string onto each hand to remind you – it’s that important.