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I am not okay with all of this

May 21st, 2020 by Kenneth Abrahams

Trust me, I understand that I have little if anything to complain about. My freezer is full of food. Despite some bumps in the road, my wife and I can pay our bills. No one that I know has died from the virus, although several have gotten sick. As a family, we have not had to go through the grieving process while not being together. We live in the suburbs in a single-family house with a big backyard and not crammed into a small apartment with 5 other people because that is all we can afford. Nor do I need to put on PPE’s and go work in a hospital where my risk of encountering someone with Covid-19 rises exponentially. There is no need for us to go to a food pantry in order to have enough food to survive. As I said, I have no real reason to complain.

Even though I do realize how fortunate I am, I can’t help but think about those who aren’t. I am not okay with knowing other people are hurting. It is hard to talk to my friends that live alone. You need not be Dr. Phil to understand how lonely they are. Nor is it easy to know I have so many friends that have elderly parents or grandparents that they are unable to see or hug because of this. It pains me to hear of families that have lost a loved one and had that person die only in the company of the well-intentioned strangers on their medical teams. To add insult to injury, they can’t even have a proper funeral to say goodbyes or to gather as a family so they can grieve together. Having lost my Mom a few years ago, I know how important it is to have the support and comfort of family and friends during such heartbreaking times.

Having worked with colleges and high schools for 30+ plus years, I’ve had the pleasure of sharing in some of the most important celebrations. So, I know what it means to these students that graduations, commencements, proms, and parties being are postponed or cancelled. It’s upsetting that the accomplishments of the Class of 2020 will never be properly appreciated. They have missed out on so much. There will be no traditional Senior year activities; no proms, senior weeks, breakfasts, dinners, or awards programs, not to mention the parties and celebrations with friends and family. Unknowingly, the day they all left campus would be the last day they were all together. Some will celebrate virtually, while others will hold their ceremonies at different times but the whole class will never be together gain. No chance to sign yearbooks, take selfies, hug one another for one last time. There will be little or no closure. That is hard to observe.

Despite what you may think about star athletes, for some the loss of the Spring and potentially the Fall seasons will be both devastating and life altering. Scouts or college recruiters may miss out on someone that has had a year of incredible growth both physically and talentwise who now may never get the chance to play at that next level. For some of these kids, it was their only ticket to college. The NCAA has granted all Spring sports participants an additional year of eligibility but for some it is an opportunity that will never come around again. Some of these gifted young men and women have worked hard for years and were on the verge of setting records that they will now never have the chance to do. For those athletes it is a validation of a lifetime of work and sweat equity. When they talk about being so close, it is gut wrenching to hear the disappointment in their voices.

We walk around our town a lot. Often the people we see are no longer just neighbors or pleasant strangers, they can be seen as potential threats because they may have the Coronavirus. Instead of waving and smiling, many people make sure their masks are secure and walk in the middle of the road or cross the street to create distance. In our travels lately, we have seen a lot recycle bins filled with alcohol bottles. If someone is taking the time to dispose of them this way, one might assume that there is a problem. According to some sources, attendance at AA meetings is on the rise, giving credence to that theory.

For others, this time of lockdown at home has been great. Family dinners are reminiscent of the 1950’s where it was a time for the whole family to sit down together, actually at the table and not in front of the TV. Normally, regardless of the season, meal times are grabbing food in between work, school, meetings, practices or games. They are rushed affairs rarely with everyone in the same space, at the same time. Clearly, for many families, this together time is great. But not for all. Some, whose relationships were a bit rocky to start, are finding this time together to be very stressful. Combine that with a number of people under financial stress and that can be a recipe for disaster. Right now, there is great concern for people who are in abusive situations. With the restrictions placed upon our society right now, there are few, if any, places for them to go.  I and many others are not okay with that.

Schools and businesses are starting to close permanently. Unfortunately, I believe this is just the beginning of that. Recently the University of Massachusetts, a large public institution, announced that it is going to start furloughing employees and offering incentives to others to resign or retire. Granted the furloughs are only 5 unpaid days but they are feeling the pain of “unprecedented financial challenges”. Many businesses are currently staying afloat with assistance from the SBA, local and federal governments and that is not a sustainable model. Some companies like TripAdvisor announced permanent layoffs and have closed offices. With less people working, especially after the additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits ends, people will have less disposable income. Businesses of all kinds can’t help but be impacted by that.

Like many other businesses, we have had to lay people off. Who knew that entertainment and parties during a pandemic is frowned upon? We still meet virtually as an office staff, twice a month, but it is not the same. I miss the daily routine of being in the office. There are few story tellers better than Mark G. and I miss him and his stories. Despite the fact that I don’t watch a lot of TV, I miss the daily recaps on the shows others are watching. When we meet, it is clear that they all miss one another too. I should feel blessed that we have a great team that enjoys working together, but that just makes this situation harder. Not to mention, I miss my daily discussion with Kim about what she has brought me for breakfast and/or lunch. (Spoiler Alert it is always the same thing …NOTHING)

It is shocking to see the lines of people waiting for food at the pantries, some with young children. Listening to the discussions about how cities and towns were going to get food to school aged children who relied on schools for breakfast and lunch was painful. Especially knowing that for some, this was their only daily nutrition. What makes it worse is that as demand has increased, supply, in some cases, has been diminished. With the current pandemic, donations are down and less people are allowed to volunteer. In some of the hardest hit areas nationwide, small groups of people are working tirelessly to feed the hungry.

There are some good things that have come out of this too (Debra, who edits these blogs, hates it when I end with a negative note). Neighbors have been helping neighbors and people are checking on the elderly in their neighborhoods. People are realizing that the time spent with family is important. Businesses are finding ways to pivot and themselves and their clients/customers are doing their best to support those businesses. It is my sincere hope that these behaviors continue after we find a cure or vaccine for this virus. 

All and all though, there are a lot of people out there suffering right now and I am not okay with any of it.

About the author:

Ken Abrahams is the proud co-owner of FUN Enterprises. For 30 plus years he has had the luxury of having a job that often isn’t like working. He is really looking forward to getting back to the office and eventually (when it is deemed safe) doing events with the clients he so dearly misses.

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