Uncommon Common Sense

A Covid-19 Blog Entry

I DIdn’t SIgn Up For This
A Covid-19 Blog Entry
Chapter 12
“Uncommon Common Sense”

Years ago, when I was a seventeen-year-old student nurse in training at The Royal Adelaide Hospital in South Australia, I wrote a letter of thanks to South Australian author and horse-trainer, Tom Roberts. I loved horses, and had purchased and read his book, Horse Control – The Young Horse. As the owner of a young horse, not yet broke-to-ride, I began training my young horse, Karra, with the book in one hand and the horse in the other. 

You might imagine my utter shock and surprise when I received a hand-written letter from Tom (Robbie) Roberts thanking me for my lovely comments, and inviting me to come out one evening to their home, enjoy a meal, and watch movies about training horses. After peeling myself off the ceiling, I called them and we set up that first visit a few weeks later.

And so began a lifelong friendship between myself, Robbie and Pat Roberts, two of the most wonderful, caring and delightful human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure to call my friends. When Robbie died in 1989, I continued my friendship with Pat. We spend many lunches and dinners listening to her delightful laughter, and reminiscing together about Robbie, and horses and life.

You might wonder what all this has to do with a blog about the current Covid-19 pandemic? Well, here it is.

Robbie, as his friends called him, was wise beyond belief. His gentle manner bade him well, not just with horses, but with people as well. I often told people through the years that listening to Robbie speak, was like sitting in front of an open treasure chest – you could only imagine the amazing riches you would discover. 

One of his favorite expressions was, “You have uncommon common sense.” He used this phrase to refer to people he believed had exactly that. Common sense by definition is “Good sense and sound judgment in practical matters.” Robbie didn’t believe it was as common as some people believed, and he appreciated it when people displayed an abundance of this when dealing with life and everything that comes along with it.

As our country flounders in the wake of this pandemic, I long to hear some words of wisdom from Robbie. He fought in two World Wars and had some amazing stories to tell of those times. I wonder what he would say if I could ask him about the current situation, this war against an unseen enemy, a virus that continues to spread like those recent Australian bushfires, leaving global devastation in its wake.

I like to think Robbie would be proud of me for being careful. For wearing a mask and staying at least 12 feet distance apart from other people when I’m forced to go out in public right now. It’s not that I’m afraid of getting sick.

Do I want to catch Covid-19?

No, thanks.

Do I have Covid-19?

Who knows?

Testing and antibody testing still isn’t readily available in my state of Iowa, U.S.A. I wear a mask because I don’t want to catch the virus (and although they say this won’t help, I say it can’t hurt) and because I don’t want to spread the virus. I was horrified when I went to the store this morning for a client and saw people of all ages not social distancing and not wearing masks.

I don’t want to be the one who transmits this insidious virus to others who might die, or transfer it to someone they love who might die. I work with the mentally handicapped and would be devastated if I caused one of them to become ill. 

So, as an essential worker, I go to work. I stay away from my co-workers and wear my goggles, mask and gloves when interacting with my clients. I wash my hands all the time and use hand sanitizer. I limit my trips to public places and stay even further away from everyone in the stores, while wearing a double mask. 

I have not seen my grandchildren who live in Illinois for months now. I miss them terribly. Up until this year, I had never missed attending their birthday celebrations. 

But common sense tells me to stay away. 

I’ve watched recent events unfold with a sinking heart. Stores, bars, restaurants re-opening. People gathering in large groups to protest against the social isolating and lockdowns. 

I understand people’s frustration at being unable to work, run a business, etc. 

What I don’t understand is this. If you want this pandemic to be over and for life to go back to “normal” – whatever that is now, why are you doing this?

It’s like going outside in the middle of a stalled hurricane that isn’t moving on (like Dorian) and expecting not to be blown away because hurricanes don’t last that long. Or swimming into a rip tide zone because you have the right to swim anywhere in the ocean you want to swim. Or standing in the eye of that hurricane and telling everyone to join you because all those stories about massive devastation must all be a hoax. It makes no sense. 

Frankly, I don’t care if this virus was genetically engineered or not, or whether they created it in a lab, or in the giant soup of life on this planet by natural causes. There will be time to figure all this out later, but to do that we have to survive. 

I don’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat or Independent, whether you were born in China, Spain, America or Asia. If you’re a human being, you owe it to yourself and to every other human being on this planet, to take this seriously and protect yourself. 

Yes, our economy is suffering. But if we lose more and more people, we will all be suffering much more before this is over, or under control. We need people, healthy people, to have a healthy economy. We are only months into the worst global pandemic in over 100 years, and I believe it’s going to go down in the history books as the worst ever. 

We are not following the guidelines, and waiting until the virus cases slow down. As a result, the predictions for my country are that by June, we will lose up to 3000 people per day. It’s not just the elderly, or those with underlying conditions. Now children are getting sick and dying. Younger, healthy adults are also dying. 

None of these losses are acceptable. This isn’t a hoax. Regardless of how you believe this started, it will destroy us as a nation if we don’t get a collective wake-up call and take it seriously. 

Staying at home for six months will not destroy our economy. Going out into public places with reckless abandon and without regard for the reality of this situation will do more than destroy our economy. It will destroy families. It will destroy lives and bright futures.

Listen to the scientists. They do not have hidden agendas. They are not conspiring to elect a different president, or change our country forever. 

Please do it for your grandchild, your child. Or for your parents, your neighbor, or your friends. Do it for yourself. 

Robbie must shake his head in sadness. All the sacrifices he and the other soldiers made to give us this life of freedom. And we’re throwing it all out the window because we don’t want to be inconvenienced?

This pandemic won’t last forever. We will develop a vaccine. Many people will gain immunity.

But the death of a loved one is permanent. 

Be thankful your vision doesn’t allow you to see these invisible enemies floating around our world. If we could see the trillions of bacteria and viruses cohabitating this planet along with us, we might never venture outside again.

We can get back to all that ridiculous stuff once we survive this dreadful pandemic. 

And surviving means using common sense.  

Right now, that seems to be more uncommon that ever.

(Author’s Note: The illustration is a painting of Tom (Robbie) Roberts on the beautiful horse, “Why Argue.”

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