By Scott Carlson

Changed by COVID-19

When I recently went through the drive-through line of a local fast-food restaurant to get lunch for my wife and myself, I never imagined I would have to wait nearly a half hour to place my order.

Not an exaggeration. There were four cars ahead of me in line and the driver at the order window seemed like he was stuck for an eternity before he got to place his order and moved to the takeout window.

I had no idea how long it would take me to reach the order board. So, I shut off my car and placed it park.

Oh, finally a driver in another car moved forward to place their order. I started up my car and moved forward.

Another long delay. Turn off my car and wait.

Only two drivers ahead me now. Wait. Turn off my car and wait again.

After I repeated this process again, I finally made it to the order microphone board.

“How could things be moving this slowly,” I thought to myself. I felt like cursing but held my tongue when the young cashier apologized for the long wait.

I finally placed my order, then waited for the line to move again so I could pay for my food and actually get it.

Again, when I reached the food window, another apology, this time from a second kid who actually handed me my food and drink.

“Well, maybe someone didn’t show up for work,” I thought to myself. “Maybe the staff is just shorthanded. Maybe they are getting a lot more business than they expected. Maybe they are getting slammed. Maybe it’s just been one of those tough days.”

Rather than getting all bent out of shape, I tried to be more understanding of what was happening to other people. I have been thinking that way since we all have endured the challenges of living through the pandemic and seeing so many people get gravely sick and many of them dying. More than 600,000 Americans in the past 18 months.

That’s how the pandemic has changed me. Now, more than ever, I strive to see the world through other people’s eyes. Not because it makes me feel good. Rather, I believe it’s just the right thing to do.

During the darkest days of the pandemic, I had plenty of time to think about how I spend my time and what I am doing.

For many months, I was not able to worship at my church. I could not go to my athletic clubs. And then, I could not visit my mother in the nursing home.

I lost my mother to COVID-19. I also saw scores of other people, some known to me and thousands I did not know, succumb to this pernicious disease.

Along the way, millions of essential workers—from doctors, nurses and ambulance drivers to janitors, delivery drivers, food workers and police officers—put their lives on the line to serve me and our fellow citizens. Teachers, parents and students have all adapted with changed schedules, virtual meetings to carry on education. You name it, we all have been affected by the pandemic.

A host of fun activities and cele­brations, like the 2020 4th in the Park parade, got canceled or were greatly curtailed.

So, this Fourth of July was so sweet when the 4th in the Park Committee was able to hold an in-person parade, albeit smaller than the usual ones but still joyfully celebrated by parade participants, including me and a group from the Bugle, and spectators alike.

So, at the end of the day, I am focusing on enjoying more of the little things in life and endeavoring not to sweat the small annoyances or disappointments. I pray we can continue on to the road to recovery, that there will not be new surge of COVID-19 that shuts us down.

How about you? How has the pandemic changed your outlook on life? What have you done that was different from the “old normal”? And what is likely to remain a part of your “new normal”?

Please share your thoughts. I will be looking to see how normal is looking to you these days. Send your thoughts to editor@parkbugle.org. 

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