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Looking at a new normal

Brandon Case
In the new normal, toilet paper (or lack of it) has taken on a whole new meaning.

For those who lived or worked in Greensburg following the May, 4, 2007 EF-5 tornado, you know what I mean a new normal. I worked at the Iroquois Center at the time and to put it succinctly, life as we knew it changed. We had to make some adjustments.

We used that phrase, “the new normal,” a lot at the Iroquois Center, where I worked at the time, after the tornado. Our mental health center was based out of a building at Barclay College in Haviland for several weeks immediately after the tornado (thanks again, Barclay).

The new normal means many different things, some of which haven’t even come to fruition yet. As of March 18, 2020, however, here is what this phrase conjures up in my mind:

1) A strange obsession with toilet paper. A friend of mine was pushing her cart around Dillon’s recently and noticed that a woman kept following her. “Why are you following me?” she turned and asked the woman. “I want that,” the woman said, indicating the package of toilet paper in my friend’s shopping cart (even though this woman already had two packages in her cart). “Have it,” she told her. As American author and gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson said, “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

2) Rumors, half-truths, and innuendo. The rumors are flying: the first case of coronavirus in Pratt County (false as of 3/18/20); they’re going to have drive-through testing for coronavirus in the Wal Mart parking lot (not hardly); the coronavirus is going to be present until August (who knows?) Folks, don’t believe anything you read while surfing Facebook, unless it’s on the Pratt County Health Department’s site or otherwise from an official, credible source.

3) Fear. Everybody’s living in fear these days: fear of, again, running out of toilet paper; fear of dying from the virus; fear of losing income or otherwise not being able to go to work. The list of fears is pretty much endless. Certainly, there is much that is unsettling these days, a lot that we simply can’t change. There’s no going backwards: we must weather this storm. It’s a good time to remember who, ultimately, is in charge here. What will happen, will happen, but God will never abandon us, as long as we don’t abandon him.

The new normal is no fun. That’s true. Yes, it will probably get worse before it gets any better. Nobody wants to go through this experience, but we don’t have a choice. Regardless of where you live; how wealthy or poor you are; what your race or ethnic background is; or, what religion you profess: we are all in this together. Hopefully, the end result will be improved relationships in a world where we feel increasingly estranged and isolated from one another.

So, just remember, wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands (and maybe even behind your ears, like your mother said).