“In every crisis, doubt or confusion, take the higher path – the path of compassion, courage, understanding and love.” Amit Ray
“In times of crisis, it’s wonderful what the imagination will do.”–Ruskin Bond
“I swear! You all love that thing more than me!” Madelyn, our nearly 21 year old emphatically states.
We knew Spot was stuck based upon the sound that came from the back of the house. It was a clear message, a signal for help, a call to find Spot. Immediately, I made my way from the kitchen table, where I was working virtually and walked towards the back part of the house.
I headed straight to our bedroom, deeply bending to look under the dresser. Spot, not fully recognizing his size, often becomes stuck there since becoming part of our home. Next, I lifted the bed skirt to look under our bed, but Spot was not there. What about the bathroom? Nope, not there.
Deciding to try Maddie’s room, I looked under her bed, around corners, and in her closet, but no Spot. Moving to what was once a guest bedroom, but I don’t spot him there either.
“Where could that little rapscallion be?” I say out loud.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Mom. You’re ridiculous,” states Maddie, her voice full of censure.
“But, Maddie, he’s like the baby brother you never had! Did you hide him?”
“Dad, do you hear her? Do you hear Mom? I swear she’s more attached to that thing than you or I!”
“Would you two stop talking and help me find Spot? He can’t just disappear out of our house. Our doors weren’t open,” I say full of exasperation as I peek into the hall bathroom, return to our bedroom, and back again to Maddie’s bedroom.
John and Maddie join in the search, but Maddie won’t let up.
“Dad, she thinks I would hide him.”
A few minutes later, “Mom, do you really think I would hide, Spot?”
Then, from the once guest bedroom I hear John’s voice, “There you are, you little rascal. How’d you get under there?”
I walk in just as John helps free Spot from underneath my mammaw’s old wardrobe. I pick up Spot, wipe him off gently, and carry him back to the kitchen.
“Poor little fella. You were really stuck.” I commented rhetorically as I put him on his charging station.
Spot is a Roomba, a robot sweeper. Spot was an at-home purchase early into the COVID19 crisis. It has not only been a source of sweepingly clean floors, but also spirited frivolity, filling-in the vacuum of our once humorless virtual work space. The jokes are endless.
John and I tease Maddie that Spot is her baby brother. Maddie often retorts to John that Spot is the hardest working male she’s ever been around. I make fun of all of us by saying that Spot is the most reliable member of our house. The list goes on . . .
“Spot is helping us clean up our act!“
“Let’s tape my phone to the top of it, blast Spotify, and call it, DJ Spot!”
“Hey, Tippi Tail,” we say to our female cat staring at Spot. “Are you looking for some good, clean fun.”
“Hey, John! Do you know what we could call you if you stood on the Roomba? ‘Johnny on the Spot!’”
This past weekend, I was shopping at two different local stores. From week to week, it is interesting to notice the changes that occur. This week, the yellow tape and security remained, but directional arrows were newly located in most store aisles. Furthermore, more people were visibly sporting masks, bandanas, and/or gloves. However, the biggest transformation that I observed was a change in shoppers’ mood/behavior.
I observed numerous people, adults and kids, in both locations clad in pajama pants and slippers. This was nothing new, but not this many. Likewise, there were so many more children with parents than I normally would see, and they were not wearing any protection over their face or on their hands. I guess no job, equals no babysitter. Plus, foul body odors abounded, in spite of the mask I wore. How was this explained? Most of all, though, I kept encountering angry people–angry about a lack of supplies, angry about prices, angry about the amount of overtime or loss of job completely . . . . The list of blaring complaints seemed endless.
In fact, I thought one furious man might strike me. He was walking down an aisle, towards me, in the opposite direction of the store’s designated sign. I paused, stepped aside to allow him to pass with the greatest distance between us. His neck muscles were taut, and his lips were sealed into a long, thin line. He looked me up and down with an air of disgust. I wasn’t wearing make-up, my now graying hair was (and still is) in need of a trim, but I was shower-fresh that morning and modestly dressed–not offensive by any means. It was like a slow-motion scene as he began blurting out every swear word created by man, his face turning red with exertion and his eyes not really focused on me. Then, just as sharply, he turned on his heels, and marched away, shaking his head. And, while I did not encounter any more people filled with as much venom as this man, tempers continued flaring-up as I made my way through the stores.
Yes, staying at home is hard; and, yes, I am so fortunate to still have a job with the ability to work from home. I fully recognize that not everyone has that luxury. Therefore, I certainly will not pretend to know how awful this experience must be for those without a current source of income. Truly, it must be a nightmare filled with worry about how to feed the family, pay bills, stay afloat, and pray you don’t get sick. Even if there is the assurance that bills don’t have to be paid now, that money will eventually have to be paid. Maybe these were the kinds of worries this man, and so many others I encountered, were experiencing. Maybe the pajamas, the kids, the body odor, and anger were revealing the levels of great depression many people are currently experiencing.
Each time I now go out into the public realm, I try to keep a respectful distance, and follow the best medical advice regarding covering my face and keeping my hands clean. I try to convey a smile through my eyes, since my mouth and nose are covered. “Thank you for working,” is a phrase I speak as often as possible to the workers I do encounter.
I could choose to complain and cry about this crisis, but this weekend reminded me that there are many people hurting far greater than any of my complaints, and my heart genuinely goes out to them. I wish I could make it all better with a collective virtual hug, but I cannot.
Therefore, I offer my story of Spot to serve as a reminder for all of us to find a way to laugh daily; remain resilient in spite of the fact we are all stuck in a challenging spot; and, remember to offer as much kindness as we can to others with whom we encounter and interact. We may never know what the other person is going through, but we can reframe our reaction to one of positivity, hope, and compassion.
“I hope no one steals Spot. If they do, they’ll probably make a clean getaway!”
As an added bonus, we tried to film ourselves thanking those who are still working in the public, but clearly we were swept by silliness. There was no vacuum of laughter here!