In coronavirus lockdown, it’s ‘the ordinary stuff’ people miss the most

Published 10:41 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2020

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By Joseph Gerth, Columnist

Louisville Courier Journal


It’s the little things.

That’s what people are missing as we’re midway through the fourth week of the coronavirus lockdown that has so many of us holed up in our houses and apartments waiting for this viral death to go away.

And while it has caused some to put the seminal moments of life on hold — the weddings, the vacations, the graduations, the funerals — it’s the minutia that we miss.

It’s the things that we take for granted.

Or used to take for granted, anyway.

That’s what I was missing. Just the ability to jump in the truck and go somewhere to get out of the wife’s hair. The ability to wander through the newsroom and bounce a column idea off a colleague. The ability to go grab lunch somewhere — alone — just to get away from people.

Just the ability to do whatever the hell I want to do and not worry that my actions are going to kill me, or someone I love, or someone I’ve never met.

That’s what’s been bothering the most about the seclusion we’re in. Trapped in homes with our wives and husbands and children and dogs and cats and whatever other critters we have running around.

I miss the routine of going into the office — even though I usually work from home a couple days a week. And I hate having to think, “OK, is it Wednesday or Thursday?” and then consult with my phone to figure it out.

I wanted to know if others felt the same, so I asked social media what others were longing for and what they like about the isolation that has me feeling a lot like a prisoner, needing a haircut and a shave, and some days struggling to concentrate on what I’m supposed to be doing.

I’m not alone.

“The ordinary stuff. Working in an office, watching kids play sports, not worrying about ordinary stuff,” wrote Robyn, a public relations practitioner from Southern Indiana.

“I miss my students,” wrote Emilie, a Jefferson County public school teacher.

For Danielle, a movie critic in Chicago, it’s going to a movie theater rather than streaming new movies on her television.

Larry, a computer engineer from San Jose, said “I miss hanging out with my niece and nephew the most followed by not having as much fresh produce as I’m used to.”

It’s not all bad. People repeatedly noted that they like the slower pace, and spending more time with their immediate family, and not having to get up and roll into the office every morning.

Waking up at 8 a.m. and being at my computer at 8:15 does have its benefits, even if it does prompt an occasional, “When was the last time you showered?” from my daughter. (I swear. It was this morning. Or was that yesterday morning?)

“Tennis!!” said one state senator who responded. (She really misses it — having responded the same way on both Facebook and Twitter.

Steven, a financial planner in Northern Kentucky, misses going to a bar. I hear you, bro.

Dee, who works for the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District misses her daughter’s lacrosse games. Lora, a jewelry distributor, misses planning a vacation she’ll actually get to go on.

“Meeting friends out at a bar and having a conversation,” said Matt, an architect in Louisville.

“Seeing family and friends… really I just want to see them and drink a beer and eat Mexican food with them,” wrote my cousin, Jess.

“I miss my grandchildren!” wrote another state senator.

“Hugging Phil and my dad,” wrote Michael, of Houston.

Sports is a big thing for a lot of you. Especially baseball, now that it’s getting warm outside and the season has been delayed at least two months. (One wiseacre noted that one good thing about delaying the season is that the Cincinnati Reds aren’t in last place in the National League Central Division.)

“Really miss ‘me’ time,” wrote Michelle, a neighbor. “It was rare to begin with. Now it’s obsolete.”

“I’m a member of the choir at St James and I used to not look forward to choir practice on Tuesday evening, but I find now that I actually miss it!” wrote Phil, a lawyer.

“I miss bringing groceries into the house and putting them in the fridge or the pantry — without having to wipe everything down,” wrote Jim, a former colleague. “I never imagined I’d be washing strawberries in soap and water.”

Tony, of Louisville, said he simply misses “human touch.”

“I miss my wife who is staying in our basement because she doesn’t want to infect us in case she becomes compromised,” said Jim, a teacher in Jefferson County schools. His wife is a doctor who has to come in contact with patients who may be carrying the virus.

“My wife and I miss hugging our kids and grandkids,” wrote Bob, a retired state worker from Sadieville. “Our 2 1/2 year old granddaughter asked my wife for a kiss and my wife cried for 5 minutes. There will be some hugs and kisses in the near future!!”

Tim, who lives in North Carolina, just misses the ability to go to Home Depot and the grocery store “on a whim.”

It’s the little things. But they’re important.