I’d like to recount two recent disparate experiences under shelter-in-place. Like all of you, I am struggling to maintain a sense of normalcy under the current conditions. I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home, and have basically only left the house last week to walk the dog. Thus, I was ignorant of behavior outside my block, where people kept a respectable distance while still being quite friendly.

My wife and I were searching for a way to support local businesses, many of which are now struggling. In my first foray out, I went to pick up a case of wine from Darcie Kent (named here due to good behavior). I called ahead, drove up, popped the trunk, and the wine was placed inside by a friendly staff member, who gave me a smile, a wave, and hopefully heard my “thank you” through my closed window. That was not only great service, but also good practice.

In the second case, we wanted to buy a wheelbarrow to catch up on yard work. We placed a pick-up order with a big box hardware store, and expected an experience similar to that at the winery. What we found dismayed me. The parking lot was packed, and the only nod to social distancing was slightly more separation in line; nothing else seemed to have changed. We still had to wait inside for the pickup, and still had to sign for it with a pen handed to my wife by a clerk who had just licked his finger to hand a penny to the previous customer. The cavalier attitude demonstrated by this store is not how we are going to beat COVID-19.

I would love nothing more than for life to return to normal, and hate that mundane actions such as the one above (while still gross), now make me nearly recoil in horror. We need to keep supporting not only our businesses (many of which are operating responsibly), but also the people they employ throughout our community. We also all need to stay sane and occupied. But for the sake of us all, we need our interactions to be more measured, more thoughtful, and yes, more distant. Nothing less than our lives and the lives of those we love are at stake.