Can we have real talk about the coronavirus for a minute? Panic has swept the nation, the world. And for what? Runny nose, cough, fever, sore throat. Personally, I’ve had all of those symptoms for months. That’s the result of living in West Texas in the winter. But the panic from the media (not doctors, not the CDC) has had a more significant reaching effect. Stores have run out of toilet paper for a reason I can’t seem to fathom. They’ve run out of bottled water.
Let’s talk about the broader consequences of this panic.
Travel has shut down. Tourism is coming to a grinding halt. Massive concerts are being canceled, states of emergency are being declared.
But that doesn’t affect you and me, right?
What about those mom & pop businesses in the towns where those multi-million dollar concerts are being canceled? What about the small gas station owners now suffering because travel has stopped? What about the restaurant owners all over the world who are losing business now?
My sister and I own and operate a small trucking company in the Permian Basin. Eight weeks ago, we were looking at the best year on the books. Eight weeks ago, we doubled our workforce. For the past eight weeks, we have struggled to keep up with the daily paperwork.
Monday that changed. Monday, oil prices took their biggest hit since the Gulf War in 1991. Monday, we went from having more work than 100 trucks could handle to barely having enough work for 30. Tuesday, we were forced to look at laying off 70+ employees.
That is the livelihood of 70+ hard-working people. None of us are millionaires who can sit this out and wait for recovery. This has caused 70+ people in our small little company to wonder how they will feed their families next week. This has caused me to question if we can afford to buy my oldest daughter the horse she’s been begging for for years. This has caused me to wonder if we can afford the cheerleading squad my youngest so desperately wants to join.
How many of you skipped your flu shot this year?
How many of you still smoke?
How many of you grabbed greasy fast food on your way home from work last night?
We have to stop falling for the panic. We have to start being realistic and proactive about our own health. Wash your hands. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Go back to kindergarten and relearn these necessary skills, and stop toying with people’s livelihoods. And for the love of Pete, stop buying up all the toilet paper!