By ALAN CARTER
As we send 2020 packing to the dustbin of history, it is time to reflect on an unprecedented year that saw the word unprecedented used an unprecedented number of times.
When confronting anything remotely out of the ordinary, keep in mind there is limited time left to score an easy laugh by simply shrugging and naming the year. Unmoored by endless existential dread? Spilled soup on your sweater? 2020, am I right?
Before we collectively slap a Worst Year Ever sticker on the past 12 months, it’s worth considering that despite the very real horrors of the pandemic, there have also been some upsides to the upending of our lives.
The all-for-one, one-for-all togetherness of the early days of the pandemic, when people would bash pots and pans every night, feels like it happened a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. But it’s not science fiction to believe we’ll value healthcare workers and others for a long time to come.
We hopefully now realize how much we rely on others, whether they’re teaching our kids science or restocking the dairy aisle, because most of us have the same amount of patience for teaching as we would have for churning our own butter. Better to let the experts do it and to value them more for it.
Other benefits, like discovering great local places for take-out dinner have been a win-win for restaurateurs and elastic waistband manufacturers alike. Ordering another jerk chicken poutine for pickup is an easy way to support a local business in my Kingston Road neighbourhood. The fact that it is now socially acceptable to leave the house in stained and straining leisurewear to pick up said poutine is, as they say, gravy.
We can only hope some pandemic changes last. We all miss travel, but what if post-COVID taking a flight could be less dehumanizing? Safety protocols have forced airports and airlines to streamline the check-in process and to impose order where chaos previously reigned supreme. Who among us will miss the maddening crush of passengers jumping to their feet and fishing for their carry-on luggage the second the plane pulls up to the gate? Now flight attendants enforce an orderly deplaning to ensure physical distancing. Let’s keep that please.
Speaking of waiting your turn, we all love to hate Zoom calls, but virtual meetings have hopefully taught us the value of keeping our mouths shut until others have finished speaking. In the Before Times, the sentence finishers, punners, and snarksters were tolerated. No more. We’ve all seen what happens when you try to fire in a zinger during the office video call.
“What?” “No you go.” “No you.” “What?” At that rate it doesn’t take long to go from office comic to straight up clown.
2020 has sucked, no two ways about it. We’ve lost good people. People are hurting financially and emotionally and the pandemic isn’t over yet, not by a long shot.
But the old cliche about every story having two sides still applies. Among the dark clouds of 2020 have been small veins of sunshine, pandemic silver linings to keep us all going. Now it’s time to turn the page and see what 2021 brings.
Alan Carter is Anchor, Global News at 5:30 and 6 p.m., and Host of Focus Ontario. He is also a Beach resident.