Stay positive, America

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By Scott K. Fish

Sometimes, when six-year old Grafton was younger, we’d step out of the house to explore or to drive somewhere. Later, I’d notice he had his shoes or boots on the wrong feet. Walking the grocery store aisles, for example, I would see Grafton’s boots and do a double-take.

“You’re shoes are on the wrong feet,” I’d laugh. Grafton would look at me as if to say, “What do you mean ‘wrong feet’? These are the only feet I have.”

“Aren’t you uncomfortable?” I’d ask. Grafton shrugged. I’d reposition his boots and off we’d go.

This past week especially I feel as if much of America, overreacting to non-stop, worst-case scenario coronavirus news, is effectively moving through each day with their shoes on the wrong feet.

My bank President/CEO sent me an email on Wednesday. Presumably the email went to all the bank customers. We’re here to help, said the bank Top Dog. “We recognize there is uncertainty related to the spread of the virus and that some of our clients may face financial challenges as a result of illness and/or business interruption.”

“We’re working with our cleaning professionals to coordinate more extensive and frequent cleanings of our branches and ATMs. We’ve made hand sanitizer readily available and are reinforcing best practices recommended by the CDC,” said the bank executive, concluding his email with tips on coronavirus and “fraudsters,” and assurances the bank was staying on top of coronavirus health developments.

I have a flight scheduled later this month. The airline Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer included me in his March 9 “valued customers” email.

“We want you to feel confident when traveling with [our] Airlines. As a result, we have enhanced some of our cleaning procedures in the interest of our Customers’ and Employees’ health and safety,” wrote the Airline executive, following with details of aircraft cleaning.

I learned the airline “spend[s] between 6-7 hours cleaning each aircraft every night, and, as of March 4, 2020, we have enhanced our overnight cleaning procedures.” The exec tells me what grade disinfectant they use and where, which, he further assures, “goes beyond the standard CDC guidelines.”

If the added airline info on aircraft air filter types doesn’t give me enough confidence, I’m offered a link to “our blog for a detailed overview, along with a video and photos of the process.”

Yesterday I received yet another email, this time from Merrill Auditorium that the Sunday, March 15, Portland Symphony Orchestra celebration of Maine’s bicentennial is canceled, and, said the Auditorium folks, here’s what you can do to make good on the concert tickets you bought.

The same type of message also arrived last night, instructing me on what to do with my tickets for Portland Ovations’s canceled Blue Man Group performance in April.

I drove to the local Hannaford for some milk and soup. Then I worked my way to the aisle with kids books displayed. The same aisle also has paper products i.e. tissues, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper. Except the toilet paper shelves — all of them — were empty. It looked like a scene from a Venezuelan food store.

A stock clerk with a wheeled hand truck topped with cardboard boxes of toilet paper had placed three packages on the empty shelves. I asked him if people were really buying this much toilet paper? “Yes,” said the clerk. “It’s crazy.”

Yesterday coming to a close, I read one final email from a nearby farm/restaurant where we have Mother’s Day reservations. The farm owner was writing about daily measures taken there to “sanitize” everything. “While the virus has not been confirmed in Maine we are taking precautions here…,” she said, ending with, “Remember to stay positive….”

To those farmer’s words of wisdom I will only suggest, when leaving your house, be sure your shoes are on the right feet.

Scott K. Fish has served as a communications staffer for Maine Senate and House Republican caucuses, and was communications director for Senate President Kevin Raye. He founded and edited AsMaineGoes.com and served as director of communications/public relations for Maine’s Department of Corrections. He now works in the private sector.


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