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There’s been a lot of talk these days about the COVID-19 pandemic and its human casualties. It is a very serious subject and I am not here to make light of it.
To do so would be offensive and ignorant, and I try my very best not to be either. Well, most of the time.
There’s always someone who might be offended by what I write in the column. You know who you are, so I don’t have to point you out. I will once again thank you for reading the column and I hope to continually annoy you in the future. That said, I would like to carry on and discuss some of the pandemic’s lesser interesting casualties.
Schoolchildren, do not read any further. I am under the illusion that there might be actual schoolchildren reading the column, so humor me. My column is most likely read by their parents and grandparents and clipped out and saved to share later. I digress.
As I said, you schoolchildren can skip this part. You aren’t going to like it much. No, really. You aren’t.
Remember when Aunt Gretchen would make you kiss her even though she smelled like stale coffee, dime store perfume and Chesterfield Kings? This is worse than that.
The combination of technology and the Chinese plague has taken away one of the most revered events of childhood. It has taken away the snow day.
For generations, children have anxiously awaited the falling of snow and what it usually brings. It brings snowmen, snowball fights and sledding. It also brings the anxiety of sitting in front of the television anticipating the sight of your school’s name in the list of closings.
When you got a one-hour delay, you knew you were still going. A two-hour delay was a crapshoot. Sometimes you would wind up going, getting to school just before you would normally go to lunch .Other times, you would win the jackpot and not have to go at all.
This was before 2020 ruined everything. This is when you learned you could still go to school remotely, on the internet, and still have to deal with mean Mrs. Kitlowski, albeit from the comfort of your own home.
Some schools are requiring the students to adhere to the dress code even when learning in a virtual environment. Schools with uniforms are telling students that they still have to follow the code of conduct, including uniforms, when connecting remotely.
Our Lady of Perpetual Motion High School in Downer’s Grove, Illinois, has instituted a Virtual Sister with a Virtual Ruler to strike out when students do not follow the code of conduct. Apparently a pop-up appears on the students’ computer screens instructing them to hit their own knuckles with a metal-edged ruler and say a Hail Mary or two to appease the nun who appears like that little paperclip that used to pop up in Microsoft Office when you needed help.
When I was a kid, my father kept telling me he had to walk uphill (both ways) barefoot, in the snow, through a bad neighborhood, every day to get to school. I can only imagine my grandsons telling their kids that they had to walk upstairs both ways, with no Wi-Fi, to get to the dining room to get to school.
Before you parents get all excited to tell your kids they are going to lose their snow days, remember, you are losing those “sick days” when you just don’t feel like making the commute and going into work. Those days when you play hookey because you are an adult and can do so just came to a sudden end. If your kids can go to school remotely, you can connect with the office.
Brush up on your acting skills, folks, because you can’t see a fever. Be sure to act like Debra Winger in the last half hour of “Terms of Endearment” so you at least look like you aren’t feeling well. A spray bottle with water off camera will make it look like perspiration. Keep a pile of crumpled tissues in sight. They don’t have to actually be used, just look like they have been. Stomach virus folks, there is no need for you on the video conference call.
I write the column from home anyway. I can’t tell you the last time I was actually in the newspaper office. The last time I was there, they didn’t know who I was and kept sending me to circulation so I could talk with someone before cancelling my subscription because of that idiot columnist who keeps writing about his cats. When I told them I was the idiot columnist and I don’t always write about my cats, they showed me to the editor’s office. He asked why I was there.
“Don’t all of you columnists work from home anyway?” he said. “I’ve got too many columnists here already. Someday, you all are going to work from home and I won’t have to deal with you.”
Joe Weaver, a native of Baltimore, is a husband, father, pawnbroker and gun collector. From his home in New Bern, he writes on the lighter side of family life.