GUEST COLUMN: My what-I-don’t-know list has grown during pandemic

Bob Boulton

Since the arrival of self-isolation, social distancing and the Quarantine-15, my mind has been crowded. Big thoughts, little thoughts, all smooshed together.

Bob Boulton

There’s my closet, for instance. It’s not in any better shape today than it was in March, and it should be. I could point to where it was written down in my ‘To Do’ list, but today it’s as messy and disorganized as ever.

Living through this pandemic has not been without positives. One is the virtuous feeling I have each time I disinfect the car after a trip out.

I have even learned a new word — reactance. In practice, reactance arises in people feeling hostile toward another person over a perceived restriction on their liberty.

They may try to regain that freedom using everything from argument to aggression. We’ve all heard stories of people exhibiting reactance to store clerks, wait staff, health-care workers and other innocents.

Our community has experienced many disturbing negatives — the heartbreak of family tragedies and the pain of separation; the no-right-decision about kids returning to school; the parallel pandemics of stress and exhaustion among clinicians, health-care workers and counsellors.

Many are anxious about Sarnia’s unemployment rate and the many businesses that shut down temporarily in March never to reopen again.

On the other hand, the federal and provincial governments have provided extraordinary COVID support. The Sarnia Community Foundation, United Way and Red Cross, for example, have received more than $130,000 to disperse.

Those cheques helped provide laptops to long-term care homes so loved ones can remain safe during virtual family visits, and provide meals at the Huron House Boys’ Home for boys required to extend their stay over the summer.

The list of things I don’t know has grown longer over the past six months. I have not practised the mandolin or taken online courses, or learned to do cross-stitching. And goodness knows there’s been enough time.

But one thing I do know — no matter what our reactance level, there is no justification for yelling at the people who serve us in stores. They didn’t sign up to have their souls corroded by vitriol.

I would suggest that anyone who feels their reactance rise and takes it out on others should be subject to a penalty.

And for a first offence, how about they clean out their closet.

Bob Boulton is a Sarnia writer and creator of a blog for new and renewing writers,