Steve Eighinger

Remember, it's a temporary norm

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 19, 2020 12:01 am

In recent days I have found myself trying to determine whether or not we are living in the "new norm," or as I prefer, a "temporary norm."

While life as we used to know it -- say, two weeks ago -- will presumably return, for the most part at some point later this year, the term "temporary norm" seems most fitting.

In addition, the phrase "social distancing" has officially entered our lexicon. And another term, "global pandemic," is now something much more real than merely a plot line on a television program like "The Walking Dead."

Some of the most eye-opening illustrations of this temporary norm have hit me in my recent travels in and around the immediate Quincy areas. There has been an almost-eerie feeling or sensation when driving around town on streets that are virtually deserted. It's reminiscent of a scene from one of those black-and-white sci-fi movies from the 1950s when we were invaded by aliens.

Only a few days ago there was the regular hustle and bustle, steady flow of traffic, and the occasional logjam of vehicles at certain intersections.

And now there's not.

It's downright weird to drive past my normal lunch haunts that earlier this month were vibrant outposts, with parking lots full of cars.

And now they're not.

There were days when I would pick up grandkids at either the junior high or one of the local grade schools. There would be that steady stream of endless chatter from the school kids who would be laughing, yelling, running and enjoying life.

And now they're not.

Watching this pandemic unfold in the midst of this temporary norm has rekindled some memories of events from the past. And since I'm so old -- 66 and counting, for those keeping score -- my past is rather extensive.

During the gas shortages of the 1970s, I found myself legitimately scared and worried. I lived in Ohio at that time and often wondered what the future might hold. I was recently married and neither my wife or I made much money. It cost what seemed to be a fortune just to fill our cars with gas.

But things got better.

To this day, some of my most memorable images after moving to Illinois involve covering the heartbreak of the flood of 2008. For those who grew up in the region and were around for earlier disasters like the flood of 1993, they knew what to expect. This was all foreign to me, and at times was incredibly depressing.

But things got better.

Maybe it's because I am older, maybe it's because I have faith in both our local leaders and country. But I have confidence we'll be able to work our way through this mess.

At some time, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, that hustle and bustle will return, the kids will be back in school and ESPN programming will be more than replays of events from years past.

Remember, it's a temporary norm.