The New Normal
by Lee Pitts
We’re living through the strangest year I’ve ever experienced. Just as World War II, The Great Depression and 911 changed our world forever, so too will the COVID-19 pandemic.
What will be left over from the coronavirus crises? Will people still wear face masks? Will they eat out less often? Will they social distance? Will personal protective equipment (PPE) remain in our vocabulary? Will people still fill concert venues, arenas and stadiums after a vaccine is produced? Here are a few predictions.
1) People will make greater use of mail-in-ballots, and eventually, voting by phone, which will make it possible for my dearly departed grandparents to vote again. And again.
2) With everyone wearing face masks, I haven’t recognized anyone since March. As a result of wearing masks, the number of flu and cold cases is radically lower, so many will continue the practice. The first company to produce a face mask with the old, “Hello, my name is,” tag printed on them for people to write in their own name will become a billionaire.
3) Zoom, Facetime and e-mail will replace meetings and committees.
4) Anyone who coughs or sneezes in public will be treated like a leper.
5) We’ll never forget who gave us COVID-19, and we’ll purchase less of anything saying, “Made in China.” This will cripple dollar stores. Craftsmen and hobbyists will bury tools made in China so in a hundred thousand years, they’ll make inferior coal.
6) Elon Musk will invent a temperature gauge to be hung over the entrance of every home and business that will unleash an alarm when someone tries to enter with a body temperature in excess of 98.8 degrees.
7) More people will keep a six-month supply of dehydrated meals in their basement. People will buy big freezers, halves of beef and whole hogs. They’ll stockpile food, liquor and toilet paper. Grocers will rethink the strategy of “just-in-time deliveries.”
8) People will relearn the joy of cooking and eat at home more often, as one-third of the restaurants in America will not reopen if we don’t find a vaccine soon.
9) Ranchers will buy more of their bulls online. Therefore, no one will show up at sales, causing purebred producers to have strokes when starting their annual bull sale with only four people on the seats including the Extension agent, a banker and a retired couple who came for the free lunch.
10) Big expensive weddings with hundreds of guests will go the way of the dodo bird. Newly married couples will take the cash instead and the word “dowry” will re-enter our vocabulary.
11) People have learned what a joy it is to eat outside, and they’ll do it more often. Outdoor home kitchens and patio dining at restaurants will be the trend.
12) The sports our children play will change. Gone will be football with its huddles and scrums, as will basketball with its close contact and sweaty bodies. Soccer will become the favored sport, and golf and tennis will both make big comebacks.
13) Employees will work from home more and instead of phoning a call center in India, they’ll be connected with an English speaking American sitting by his phone in his or her bathrobe.
14) More kids will be homeschooled. Colleges, which were previously more proud of their buildings and football fields, will now offer online courses taught by great teachers who’ll be paid like superstars. The value of a college education will become more questionable.
15) Cowboys and cowgirls will carry small bottles of Purell® in their saddlebags.
16) Old Sears and JC Penney buildings will continue to be converted into Amazon distribution centers, and malls will be transformed into “pay-as-they-go” dog parks.
17) People will shop at big grocery stores less and farmers’ markets more.
18) Residents of big cities will bail out of them faster than rats leaving a sinking ship. Speaking of which, I’d sure hate to own a cruise line these days. I predict many of these floating palaces will be parked permanently and their cabins turned into condos and resthomes.
19) The handshake will be replaced permanently by the fist bump.
20) We will respect and trust scientists less and nurses more.