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How much will life change after the pandemic?

It seems like a lifetime ago that The Day still had a functioning newsroom, before working from an internet cloud, and we all gathered physically one morning around the City Desk to talk about how we would cover the unfolding pandemic.

Ah, the good old days, in March.

My ears perked up that morning when I heard one reporter sagely use a term I had never heard before: social distancing.

And now, of course, not only do we all know what it means but we are getting good at it, or at least much better.

I still cringe a bit when I see someone careening with a big cart the wrong way down the middle of a grocery store aisle, ignoring or just not seeing the masking tape arrows on the floor. Other times, I wonder, doesn't that person know how far 6 feet is?

But mostly I am amazed how quickly as a society we have adapted, not just to protect ourselves, but one another. It's heartening.

In my long walks around town, I see lots of parked cars with masks hanging from the rear view mirrors, a new routine.

I am thankful more than ever to live in such a wonderful place like eastern Connecticut, where you can literally feel the neighborly strength of the community, even though the smiles of passersby are often masked.

I don't mean to minimize in any way the pain this is causing here for the people who are sick and their friends and family members. But we are fortunate as a community to have much less of it than many other parts of the state, the country and the world.

Remarkably, we have kept our sense of humor.

The other day I overheard someone say to a passing mailman: "I would just like to go out for a haircut and a cold beer at a bar."

The postman responded that he just wanted something that I can't describe in a family newspaper. But I will say the sidewalk pandemic patter was very funny.

I've read the suggestions that, without professional hair assistance, we are soon going to know everyone's real hair color.

One real estate appraiser suggested in an interview that he expects to be very busy when all this ends, because the divorce rate will spike and people will put up for sale the houses they've been cooped up in for so long.

On the other hand, maybe there will be a post-pandemic baby boom.

Dogs are happier these days, getting more attention. Parents are learning how hard their kids' teachers work. People are cooking real food again.

I know no matter how long I live I will never again take hand sanitizer or toilet paper for granted.

I am convinced we are going to come out of this stronger. Not only do we profoundly respect the bravery of the first responders in cruisers, ambulances and emergency rooms, but I think there is genuine gratitude, too, for the many people who are doing jobs that we used to take for granted.

Dare I hope that the country might finally make the political moves to correct the great and growing imbalance between the haves and have nots of America? Won't we all better understand what is important and what really makes America great?

Good government and science will matter again.

I have even heard of a pandemic crime I can excuse.

There's an official notice on a porta potty at the Poquonnock Plains Park in Groton that begins as an apology.

"There's no hand sanitizer in this unit," the notice says. "People have been stealing it."

This is the opinion of David Collins.

d.collins@theday.com 

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