Essential personnel

Today’s Google Doodle sends love to the “doctors, nurses, and medical workers…”

My wife’s an RN, so I’ll certainly second that emotion. The healthcare community is going above and beyond. Actually, it seems above and beyond to most of us, but it’s par for the course for them. We’re just a bit more cognizant of it now, and we offer them a hearty salute.

That said, I also think we need to give a shout-out to the other types of “essential personnel” who aren’t getting the props they deserve. Like the folks making minimum wage at the grocery stores, trying to keep products on the shelves for the toilet-paper-starved masses.

Doctors, nurses and medical workers likely knew what they were signing up for. The dudes and dudettes at restaurants (carryout only!), gas stations and grocery stores are being exposed to dozens if not hundreds of people every day, for low wages, long hours, and likely zero benefits.

And let’s not forget the factory workers, the truck drivers, the delivery people… everyone in the supply chain who is working OT to keep up with demand, not just for food, but also for medical equipment like masks and gloves.

We take it for granted most of the time. But I hope we’re a bit more appreciative now.

Take a hike

There’s not much good that can come out of a global pandemic. But on a macro level, perhaps we’re all more aware than we’ve ever been before about the fact that we share one planet. Like it or not, actions halfway across the globe can turn our whole world upside down.

And on a micro level, we’re all realizing how much we need connection. And not just the Zoom Meeting kind. In fact, after a long day of staring at a screen and the same four walls, we’re starting to get reacquainted with the magical, mystical powers of a good old-fashioned walk through the neighborhood. Just a simple stroll, with perhaps a friendly wave to a fellow traveler or three (from a safe distance, of course) can do the heart a lot of good (literally and metaphorically).

I hope that when this coronavirus crisis is over, and the gyms and movie theaters and restaurants and bars are open once again, we’ll still take a daily walk… on this planet we all share.

That sinking feeling

My employee communications job has turned into “crisis communications” of late (thanks a lot, Wuhan exotic animal market!) and there have been a lot of workdays that have stretched into worknights. (Which also explains my lack of posts recently.) So the last thing I needed when I got up on Wednesday morning was a clogged bathroom sink. But that’s exactly what I got. Actually, it’s not exactly what I got… I got exactly TWO clogged bathroom sinks. Our master bathroom and hallway bathroom are back to back upstairs, and share the same drainpipe.

I played a bit of “plunger ping-pong”: plunge the master bath sink and the standing water would go to the hallway sink…. plunge the hallway sink and it’d go back to the master side. I did manage to yank a field mouse sized lump of hair out of one drains (ah, the glamorous life!) but it was clear that the clog was farther down in the pipes.

I’m far from handy (and far from handsome… sorry Red Green), but I was 72% confident that I could pull out the pop-up plug and/or disassemble the PVC pipes below one of the sinks and clear the clog. But I also was 99.9% sure that I’d screw up the reassembly (which is in tight quarters in a vanity), and we’d then have a leaky drain on our hands. And I was 110% sure that I didn’t have time for this nonsense, with my company’s head of HR and COO already pinging me about the latest corona-crisis.

I got caught up in work and forgot about the clog until that afternoon, when I suddenly remembered that one of my co-workers has a husband who is a master plumber. And they live nearby. And she said he gives a “friends and family” discount to her co-workers.

So I pinged her via our company’s instant message system to get his phone number. I also couldn’t remember his name. Here’s what happened next:

It was a bit crazy. Freaky. Eerie. I mean, what are the chances that she’d use the bogus name of “Herbert” in a chat with a real Herbert’s son, on the very day that he passed away a decade ago?

I’ll spare you the rest of the chat, but we wound up having a nice little conversation about my father. The day started with a lot of frustration, but it wrapped up with some warm fuzzy feelings. Guess things — including clogged sinks — happen for a reason.

Oh, and the ghost of Herbert must’ve heard us summoning him from the Great Beyond, because after I texted Erin’s husband and we arranged for him to stop by the next morning, I went upstairs and the drains were working fine. Thanks, Pops… for everything!

School on Saturday

“There’s a myth that learning is for young people. But as the proverb says, ‘It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.’ The middle years are great, great learning years. Even the years past the middle years. I took on a new job after my 77th birthday – and I’m still learning. Learn all your life. Learn from your failures. Learn from your successes. When you hit a spell of trouble, ask ‘What is it trying to teach me?’ The lessons aren’t always happy ones, but they keep coming.”

John Gardner, a politician and a recipient of the 1964 Presidential Medal of Freedom

I came across this quote in the most recent weekly “3, 2, 1” newsletter from author and entrepreneur James Clear. Every Thursday, he sends out an email with:

  • 3 ideas from him
  • 2 quotes from other folks
  • 1 question/prompt

It’s a quick read and provides plenty of great food for thought. You can sign up for the newsletter here.

(HT to my friend Chris H. for putting the James Clear newsletter on my radar.)

Two-fer Tuesday. Two for every day.

Seth Godin’s daily blog posts (you can sign up here) are pure magic. They never fail to provoke, challenge and/or inspire. Two recent ones really hit home for me. Here’s Seth’s post from January 25th:

Awareness vs. experience

We are more aware than ever before. More aware of victims of violence, or a natural disaster. More aware of insane wealth or grinding poverty. It gets beamed to us, regularly.

We’re even more often exposed to social hijinks, sports stars or business moguls.

We’re aware that people run a marathon, or fast for a week. That they start a business or meditate every day. They know how to code, or to take pictures.

But there’s a difference between hearing about it and experiencing it.

There’s no excuse for being uninformed. But when it matters, there’s also no good reason for being inexperienced.

There’s often a piece of glass between us and the world as it’s delivered to us. That glass magnifies awareness, but it doesn’t have the same impact as experience does. It can’t.

Our awareness has been stretched wider than ever in history, but often at the cost of taking away a lifetime of experiences.

So true! Let’s repeat that last sentence, shall we?

Our awareness has been stretched wider than ever in history, but often at the cost of taking away a lifetime of experiences.

And now for the Seth Godin double shot, a post from yesterday, Feb. 3rd:

Something’s more interesting than this

And now, that’s always true.

Whatever you’re doing.

No matter who you’re with.

Something, somewhere, is more interesting than this.

And it’s in your pocket.

All the time. As long as the battery lasts.

There’s an alert, a status update, breaking news. There’s a vibration or a text, just waiting. Something. Right now.

Until infinity.

Unless we choose to redefine whatever we’re doing as the thing we’ve chosen to do, right here and right now.

Ignore the distractions and the coming attractions. Don’t take the clickbait. Focus on what YOU want to accomplish, not the dopamine hit that some AI algorithm is pushing.

The Joker gets serious

While most of America was watching Hour 88 of the Super Bowl pregame hypefest, Novak Djokovic was capturing his 17th Grand Slam title in the Land Down Under (which might have to change its nickname to the Land That’s On Fire).

I’m happy for “The Joker”… and not just because he’s my doppelgänger. (OK, he’s 23 years younger, much more athletic and much better looking… but if you squint you might see a slight resemblance.)

Djokovic or Dubbatrubba? You decide! Photo: Getty images

Djokovic’s career has overlapped with the heyday of both Roger Federer (20 Grand Slams) and Rafael Nadal (18) and he probably doesn’t get nearly the acclaim he deserves. Slowly yet steadily, he’s been gaining ground on both in overall titles and Grand Slams. He’s six years younger than Federer, and a year younger than Nadal. Before his career is over, he just might be the all-time leader in Grand Slams.

Photo: Getty Images

Novak also seems like a good dude. After the Australian Open final, he wore a jacket with Kobe Bryant’s initials and NBA numbers on it, and in his victory speech he offered some heartfelt words about what really matters in life.

“This is a reminder to all of us that we should stick together, now more than ever, being with our families, stay close with the people that love you. Of course, we are part of a professional sport. We compete and try our best, but obviously there are more important things in life. It’s important to be conscious and humble about things that are happening around you.”

Sounds like a winner to me.

Photo: Getty Images



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