right there, that’s not true. Everything can be normal, depending
on the perspective of the people and situations we’re considering.
But… still… ok…
friends have reached out to me in recent days about a few comments
I’ve made in recent efforts around my web site. They’re not saying
I’m wrong. Not saying I’m right. Just want to know if they’re
interpreting a few different ideas correctly. If so, then how
I can say there never was a normal while at the same time offering
thoughts that eventually we will once again find consistency and
comfort in the everyday by applying differences that aren’t necessarily
know, I agree, it’s kind of a thinker. But essentially, they’ve
decided I’ve said normal doesn’t exist, and yet everyone is looking
for normal to return. And the answer is… yes… no… both… but mostly,
sort of. Let’s take a bit of a meander about…)
ten years ago, a friend spotted me walking down a hallway, shouted
out to get my attention and rushed over. He wanted to know why
I wasn’t responding to his messages. I asked him what messages
he meant. He replied his text messages. Said he had sent several
and that I never returned any of them. I explained that I didn’t
have a phone that received or sent text messages.
when I graduated from high school, no one had an e-mail address.
And while actually, there likely were such things as electronically
sent mail in those days (or at least similar enough to be considered
the same concept), the idea I’m trying to convey is that e-mail
wasn’t something the vast majority of people had even a vague
sense of awareness about.
smart phones and tablets and more are standards of doing business.
You can order food and pay bills using an app, watch television
on a streaming service, browse the web… the list goes on, all
with a phone.
advancements, seismic shifts and whatever you care to consider
are created, developed and implemented by all sorts of things.
Imagination. Genius. Necessity.
grandparents and parents never would have guessed when they were
children that a wireless phone would not only be portable, affordable,
and easily available… and they certainly wouldn’t have guessed
fifty years ago that such a phone would also serve as a camera,
encyclopedia, wallet, and all-encompassing entertainment platform.
(In color. And maybe stereo. (Never mind. Stereo idea is far from
move those thoughts to the side. Next step…)
on where you are in the United States, a soda might casually be
referred to as a soda, pop, coke, tonic, soft drink…
on where you are in the United States, a sandwich made on a sub
roll might casually be referred to as a sub, hoagie, grinder,
two examples, but those are all regular, average, routinely used
and normal terms.
the side. Next…)
does your day move along from beginning to end?
you sleep when it’s dark out on most days because you work when
the sun is out? Do you work overnight and sleep during the day?
time do you eat breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?
you’re employed, could you perform your job from home? Do you
work from home? What is your work week schedule? What are your
But this time, let’s see about uniting some of this stuff…)
the sake of brevity, I’m simplifying in this essay. A lot. But
I’d like to think that for you there’s already a lit bulb hanging
in the air and a ding-ding-ding bell of realization sounding in
the distance. You’ve sort of figured out what I mean when I say
normal isn’t normal.
all of us, normal is different.
way I lived my life growing up in New England, we’ll say about
forty years ago, is tremendously different than the way a person
of similar age today is growing up in in the southwest of the
potential aspect of that normal definition in some way matters
in a comparison. Growing up, I was restricted by the length of
a phone cord. Heck, I was restricted by only having one phone
in the house. Televisions were still available for purchase as
black and white models in significant numbers.
is worth a funny step aside for a moment. Articles discussing
the disappearance of black and white televisions for sale date
around 1992 and 1993 depending on the method you use and wording
you search. Two reports I found said Sears used its last black
and white model as a deal to get people into stores. Ready for
this? The sources I had said it was sold in 1990 and the deal
was $79. And, you may want to sit down, because in the quest for
appears that at least one company may still be manufacturing black
and white televisions. And, I saw a source crediting the BBC as
saying approximately 7,000 people still watch television primarily
in black and white. (I’m not wandering further down this road,
but understand that the UK approaches television viewership in
ways different than the US, so just from those two countries there
are reasons why a person might elect to watch television in black
and white in London that make no sense to someone from Chicago.
Still… black and white television as a blanket topic… it’s considered
a normal scenario for some homes.)
so, yes, I think we have a clear grasp on the ides where using
the term normal is effectively being presented not as normal,
but rather as an equivalent for acceptable… practical… comfortable.
when I say we can’t go back to normal, I mean that because the
reality is for most folks there is no way of balancing, equalizing
or comparing normal for one to normal for another. Some folks
don’t have cell phones. Some folks don’t understand when you order
a pop. Some folks need child care… work weekends… and on and on.
when used, the term normal becomes a sweeping generalization and
not a specific definition. A way for a television face to say
“let’s get back to normal” and all of us hear that with a nod
in agreement, even though your normal and my normal and the normal
in Kansas and the normal in Montana and the normal in every home
is why I say we want a return not to normal, but a return to what
we’re comfortable with.
that brings us to the last stretch of this… the new normal on
you like cash? During those times when you read about security
breakdowns for electronic transactions for this store or that
bank, do you kind of feel happy you use cash?
well… get ready for that new normal.
been coming, you’ve been kicking and screaming as it approaches,
and now people don’t want to handle money from everyone.
worked in places where people pulled damp bills out of socks,
or reacted to a price by reaching into the area of their bra right
near the armpit, the understanding of why someone wouldn’t want
to handle it is something I can only too readily relate with.)
with a smartphone. A tap of a credit card. A swipe or insert or
whatever of your debit card.
This amazing pandemic is sliding us from a time where places that
only took cash were a bit of a novelty item into a new day where
we might be headed to cash being used at all is a rarity. An extreme
rarity, because some places will be trying not to take it.
that’s where the phrase new normal comes into play the most strongly.
Sure… we’ll see hand sanitizer dispensers far more frequently
and prominently wherever we go… we’ll see more people wearing
masks, even when restrictions requiring them are dropped… and
you might start being more aware of your temperature in just a
single day out of the house than you had been in the previous
is that the new normal? I don’t think it is, even though I am
not dismissing it as a reality. I’m just saying people will get
back to restaurants, stores, movie theaters and more.
new normal, for my argument, is the comfort involved. A transition.
A movement into what we find as the way we do things.
is normal… mainly because to someone, every possibility is. And
tomorrow, as we emerge again and return to our comforts, we’re
going to find the experience is just a bit different than it was