Hey there, boys and girls.
Welcome back to the New Normal.
As the term implies, there are things that remain as they were prior to the pandemic: your friends are still your friends. The guy from the IT department is still one taco shy of a combination plate. And getting your daily exercise requires just as much discipline…but still feels just as good when you’ve done it.
Some things are different. You may now be working from home on a part-time or permanent basis. If you live in Paris (!) you may not be doing the kiss-kiss greeting again just yet. You may have lost touch with acquaintances during lockdown(s). You may be uncertain about how you could re-engage with them…or if you even want to.
As with all things that are both ‘new’ and ‘normal’, you will need to remember old traditions and implement new courtesies in order to diplomatically navigate these fresh, familiar waters. So let’s discuss a few topics and how we might now handle them.
First, do not ask people if they have been vaccinated for Covid unless they are a close relative. While it might seem to be an easy conversation starter, it is none of your business. It is no more appropriate than asking them how that recent prostate exam went. We endured a global public health crisis. We do not now need to endure a personal privacy invasion.
(Tip: if someone asks you a personal question about your health, you may reply, “Why do you ask?” When they mention that they’re simply concerned about you or that they care about you, you may respond, “Thank you. I appreciate your concern.” And leave it at that. Even the most inquiring minds will get the hint and change the subject.)
Vaccination status may be important for airlines, but not for the average citizen. From the available public information that I’ve read, it appears that being vaccinated for the virus (in its present incarnation) does not prevent a person from becoming infected with the virus or passing it on to others.
Only wearing a mask, social distancing, and hand washing have consistently proven to be barriers to catching and transmitting this virus. The vaccine just helps you to, you know, maybe not get really sick and die. Many people have been vaccinated. No one is immune.
Healthy habits are much more of a reliable barometer and safeguard. If you have your doubts about the hygiene practices of the person your sitting or standing close to, put a little distance between yourself and them. Wear a mask if you’re so inclined. Do a fist or elbow bump instead of a handshake or hug. And use that hand sanitizer.
Most importantly, have a civilized conversation. Ask others if they have any travel plans, since that’s been a little up in the air for the past 18 months.
Second, if you’re working from home, get dressed anyway. I can feel the Global Sloth Vibration Rate (GSVR) increasing weekly as telecommuters putter about their second bedroom offices in boxer shorts, pajamas, flip-flops, or those dreaded cargo pants.
Maybe I’m sensitive to this because I live in Paris: elegance is a living, breathing way of life here, whether you’re going to see anyone or not. You’re going to see you. You’re going to feel you. So make the effort, home-bodies. Run through the shower. Give you hair a lick and a promise. Get dressed just as if you were going into the office.
Third, be optimistic. Doom and gloom was understandable and easy during the Covid epidemic. (And I’m not saying that it’s over. Just maybe that the worst is over.) People were very sick and many died. Healthcare workers took a beating and deserve a medal. It was tragic, and it was terrible.
But that is part of life. The other part of life is turning the page on tragedy and loss, getting together with your friends and family, and celebrating.
We got through this. We still have our health. We still have our friends and family. We still have a democracy. And we still have a future.
Let’s make the most of it.