If you’ve ever been to or worked in a restaurant, you most likely know what 86 means. For those of you scratching your head, it means no longer available, sold out, scratch that off the list, no more, don’t have any, it’s gone, or remove. Over the past couple of months, this saying has been all over social media, being especially popular with hospitality memes. During a global Pandemic and national crises, all we can do is try to relate to one another and by doing so, we’ve all agreed that we’d like to 86 2020 and move on to the next year.
In 2019 I never would have thought, I mean who could have, that 2020 was going to be such a disaster. Well, to be fair it is an election year so disasters are inevitable, however, I don’t think I’m alone when I say, I just didn’t expect this. I got married in 2019 in early November, went on a 10-day Honeymoon to Europe, and after returning got a promotion and started a new position in my company. 2020 was looking to be a ripe, beautiful new year full of opportunities and settling into my new last name, Mrs. Shepherd. Knock, knock, knock, “Hey! It’s 2020, I’m here to lock you in your home, remove all of your jobs, take all of your money, prevent you from seeing your friends and family, and set the world into mayhem and a pandemic, may I come in?”
As newlyweds being locked in the house together wasn’t something we had planned but, I have to be honest, it’s not the worst either. I feel very very lucky to have married the man I married. I truly know now that if I were to be locked up with someone, that I’m glad it’s him. We’ve been making the best of the situation as much as we can. Grocery store trips are now considered getting out of the house for the day.
We’ve taken on cooking projects like a crab, corn, and potato boil, and made cookies, beef wellington, meatballs, jalapeno cornbread, and even tried out new pizza dough recipes. We have planted flowers and herbs on our patio/balcony garden, put up a new shelf in the living room, averaged about three or four 5k walks a week, colored and done way too many word search puzzles, and achieved a little painting project as well. Oh, we also managed to celebrate both of our birthdays under quarantine, his in March and mine in April.
The most common phrase is now, “Wow, weird times we’re living in now huh?” People went from making small talk about the weather to small talk about what normal used to feel like. If someone told me in 2019 that my job would be taken away and that I was going to get bored sitting at home doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, obviously I would have accused said person of being crazy. Getting a little glimpse into what retirement feels like; man is this boring!! I find myself thinking I might be more entertained if I lived on oceanfront property, or maybe in a lakeside home. Where could I be that could make this less boring and more exciting? Well, guess what? That little saying that has become so famous during these times that not everyone wants to believe is, “We’re all in this together.” It is my own belief that no matter rich nor poor, we are all in this together because we all have nothing to do and nowhere to go. I mourn for those unable to feed their families or pay their bills, ones who are losing loved ones without getting a chance to say goodbye, health care workers who haven’t seen their families in months. COVID-19 has taken lives, ruined families, taken down the global workforce and economy, destroyed the high school and college graduations, removed prom photos from future photo albums, and made wedding planning impossible. It’s a true sign when you hear and see that disasters bring us together, nothing is more true and vivid right now.
Unfortunately, to some, it also helps to divide us. Trying to paint an equal picture of the Corona Virus is complicated. People are sleeping all day, binge-watching tv, playing video games non-stop, teaching their kids from home and online services, employers have their staff working from home introducing the term ‘Zoom’ into everyone’s daily routine. Late-night TV shows are airing from home; recording clips from their residence and sending them to the ABC’s, NBC’s, and CBS’s and editing them for the world to consume. Then, on the other side of the “Stay Safe, Stay Home” movement is the “Reopen States” protesters. People chanting and threatening nurses and state officials to “Re-Open NC Now!”, or whatever state you’re living in because it’s starting to happen more often and in more states. I’m sure for years to come the photos will remain as reminders to that one-time, protestors shouted at hospital workers that it’s safe to go back to work having no facts to back up their horrific opinions.
I’m attempting to document my version of the story because I know I will be telling it for the rest of my life. This thing we’re all going through is only comparable to The Great Depression stories that our great grandparents used to tell when they were growing up with their children. My kids will know about this Pandemic when they study it in school, and I will have my story just like everyone else will have theirs. I will tell them how I spent it with their Father. I spent it volunteering at the restaurant where I normally get paid to be the General Manager. I will tell them how you couldn’t go out to eat for months, that the malls were closed, parks and museums were abandoned, you couldn’t go to the dentist or the movies or even concerts. All sports from kindergarten through college and the professional world were all suspended. (No March Madness, no NBA Playoffs, and no Stanley Cup this year.) I will tell them life as we all knew it had hit pause and there was nothing to do but embrace it and make the best of what we had. I will also force them to look at the massive amounts of food photos I have taken from all the new cooking projects I was able to complete, or if I’m lucky, I’ll be telling them, “You know, your Father and I came up with this recipe during quarantine 2020.” (COVID Note: No one can find toilet paper or paper towels, there is a meat shortage, not a single grocery store in 100 miles has yeast or flour and it’s very hard to find sugar, and for the first time in my life it’s illegal to not be wearing a face mask that’s covering your nose and mouth.)
In an attempt to wrap all of this up I can say one thing and one thing only. The older I get the more important this phrase becomes and it originates from an animation movie about a fish who got lost, “Just Keep Swimming”. If you never stop swimming and learn how to adapt, you’re going to be ok.