Silver Linings Playbook: Covid-19 Edition, Part 2

  • JOKES! “J’avais une blague sur les magasins, mais elle n’a pas supermarché!” And there’s this one, if English is more your thing: “Why is 6 so AFRAID of 7? Because 7 8 9!!Okay, maybe you had to be there, walking along Queen Mary. *I* laughed. (Go find your own!)
  • BASIC HUMAN DECENCY and compassion and doing the right thing get “front page” billing, or maybe I should say top-o’-the-Twitter-feed attention. On one walk yesterday, I saw a couple with a huge poop bag for their tiny pooch, and a super-long extended picker-upper claw, and I didn’t quite get what they were doing. Then I caught up with the guy hiking along with a bike frame in one hand and a flattened wheel in the other. “Did you see those folks under the bridge picking up other people’s dog-shit?” He, meanwhile, takes home bicycle parts junked by the river and fixes them up for a hobby. “I can make a few bucks on some of them, too!” A few hundred steps later, a woman was scrambling along the hillside picking up trash, and seemed slightly embarrassed when I raised multiple thumbs in her direction. “Well, somebody has to, right?” And before I arrived on my doorstep, I had to walk past a brightly chalked bit of sidewalk hopscotchery, with the words “YOU MATTER!!” in gigantic pastel letters. (Then it was my turn to grin shyly. Aw shucks! You didn’t have to do all that for *me*!)
  • CIVIL SERVICE HEROISM? In a government town like Ottawa, we hear about as much 3rd-party praise for public servants as we normally do for teachers, but during a pandemic? Some complain about the feds or provincial leaders responding too slowly (even though we have the American drama as a vivid contrast), but suddenly most folks realize that government workers DO STUFF WE NEED. My bride is normally trying to save the world one technological climate solution at a time. However, many Canadians are stuck abroad, over 3 million (nearly 1 in 10 of us!) at the beginning, incredibly enough – yes, we’re just escaping winter – and still well over a million. So she’s been putting in days at the Global Affairs bunker trying to help folks get home, and folks are grateful.

I do worry about underfunded public transportation taking a backward step after the pandemic, every time I see a city bus with one or two people riding. The comeback for local businesses will be hard. On the other hand, it’s a great (and much safer) time for bicyclists, and folks are much more aware, now that they’re compromised, of how vital local businesses are to a thriving city. (I say, Shop Local! Physical distancing on the bus is easier than usual!) In my city, in yours, many people are asking excellent questions. Will the slowing down of our civic life create opportunities for lasting improvements? Does a pandemic perspective allow us to re-imagine our cities, to sharpen our municipal saws? Will an enhanced sense of neighbourliness spread like the corona virus, and outlast it?

Let’s make it so, good citizens of my town and yours.

[Next up: Silver Linings from sea to shining sea to the other shining Canadian sea.]

Comment (1)

  1. Michael Freeman

    We look for silver linings once the event is over, not while the event is still going on. Being embroiled in the circumstances of the event does not allow us to look for silver linings, until after the stresses of the events are over. The pandemic is not over and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be over for a very long time. If that is true, then we won’t be able to look for silver linings for an awful long time either. Maybe we should be looking for milestones or glimmers of hope, but I think this is what the writer refers to as silver linings.

    It is very hard to believe that with all of the coverage in the news, with all of the social media, with all of the changes, that there are still people out there that have no idea that they are supposed to be staying in their homes. People can still be seen roaming the streets where other people are gathering, and generally ignoring the social-distancing, self-isolation instructions of the chief medical officers. Thank goodness for the grocery clerks, truck drivers, medical professionals of any kind, workers within seniors residences, and all the others that were deemed essential very early on in this time of unusual conditions. These people are not problems. They need to be out and about. And I’m sure it’s hard for them to find ways to keep their distance. But there are so many others out there that just don’t seem to be getting it. I guess that the positive to take away from this is that there are a lot more people that are getting it than aren’t.

    I was always told that if you don’t laugh you’ll cry. Many people have known conditions where their only outward response was laughter, but inwardly they were torn apart and wanted to cry. This pandemic has many many people experiencing that right now. Looking for humour in the face of adversity has been a very strong coping mechanism for many people. I turn to the jokes that I can find on social media. I look to the funny stories that I can find. And I look for the humour wherever I can find it!

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