Monday Postcard

Postcard Special – No Panic Diary Week 2

24. March 2020

Postcard Special No Panic Diary Coronavirus

After the events at the beginning of March, I decided to put my regular Monday Postcards on hold for a bit and write updates about my daily life during the coronavirus (Covid-19).

This thread will be updated regularly (I aim at daily updates). It starts with the most recent entry at the top. I have also written a longer part about my past weeks in Thailand, right after the outbreak of the disease. (Read more about it in the Post about Week 1 of Social Distancing.)

I would like to use this thread to share the knowledge we have gained in Asia over the past weeks – how did we live, cope with fake news, and how or social life changed. I know for a lot of you, especially in Europe and the US, this is a very new situation. It is for me too, I just had a bit more time to get “used” to it. (If you can ever really get used to it).

I called it the “No Panic Diary” because I want this to be a “virtual discussion”. On the one hand, I share, rant and also calm down by writing. On the other, I would like to give you a platform where you can ask, share and discuss about the current situation as well. It is a very new situation for all of us and maybe this diary helps us to connect and support each other. If you have any questions, you can comment below these updates, send me an email or contact my via social media. There are no silly questions and I am happy to talk.

First and foremost, do not panic, stay calm and stay at home! Please follow the instructions by your governments and be smart.

Day 12 until Day 14

I decided to take a step back from blogging and social media. The last three weeks have been a whirlwind and I just wanted to be on my own for some time without constantly checking the news.

After two weeks of social distancing, I have found some sort of routine – I structured the week and split up my tasks, run our errands and also exercise regularly. I still find it funny to see that many people feel as if they are on holidays, because for me, workload-wise it has not really changed. I am extremely productive. Probably because work has become a way to distract myself from the depressing and also scary news.

This “holiday-feeling” also has a really bad effect on all our efforts to flatten the curve. I get angry when I see pictures of people who still meet for picnics with friends, skiers having to be rescued from cross country tours or market visitors stating on on TV “I know I should stay at home and that it is a risk, but I need to go outside.”. I have mentioned it over and over again: please stay at home! WE ARE NOT ON HOLIDAYS! Our hospitals will not be able to handle Covid-19 and at the same time treat people with sports injuries. And think about it – is a picnic now really worth it? Do you really need to sit in the sun? If you had a normal worklife at the moment, you would also not be able to sunbathe. If we do not flatten this curve, we will have all these measures for a much longer time than you may think. And all these activities are a slap in the face of all people who comply and those who have become sick!

Another way of reframing my thoughts is focussing on the good things – no matter how small they are. There is a stray cat coming by our house to eat. Maybe she is looking for a home – I hope so. Spring has arrived and the whole garden is in bloom. I had phone calls with many of my friends after quite some time.

When I started my online store, many people asked me why I would only operate online. My decision was very often met with scepticism. On some days, I admit, I wondered if online-only was really the way to go. At the moment, I am glad that I opted for this model. Many businesses are struggling – they are required to pay rent and salaries in times where sales are uncertain. It will be tough no matter the industry. But I do think that e-commerce has a big potential for growth given the social distancing requirement. I hope that after we have overcome this crisis, digitalisation will stop being stigmatised and seen as a danger but as an opportunity instead. I do not think that every single business has to go fully digital. It would be unrealistic – many business models need a physical service, product or location. But I hope that many business owners will embrace digital opportunities at a larger scale.

I cannot judge as yet how the e-commerce industry as a whole and my business will develop over the next months. I think for many of us who rely on international distribution, the closing of borders and the limitations in terms of logistics may pose some problems. But I guess, again, we need to wait and see what happens.

I wish you all a good start into the week ahead. Stay strong, positive and healthy – and please stay at home!

Day 11

As for many of us, one of the rare occasions we get to leave our house these days is to go to the supermarket. I have become quite a pro at it now. I have the lists for the people I shop for in one hand, two baskets in the other. I try to avoid using the shopping carts – I did hear that it is unlikely to catch the virus from touching it but better safe than sorry. Today was the first day I wore gloves to the supermarket – does anyone else do that too? I organise the products into groups according to where they are located at the store and then try to breeze through as fast as possible. I still am not used to the fast paced scanning and I also do not really get the hurry. We are all at home and today I was the last customer before they closed the cashier before their disinfecting process. The part where the products are placed after scanning was filling up and some products almost fell out. Is it just me? Have I become too slow to survive an Austrian supermarket cashier?

When I went back to the car I met a family friend who is about my parents age. Keeping our safety distance, we chatted a bit and then I saw that her trunk was full with her shopping and she was doing it all on her own. I offered her that I can also do some runs for her. She smiled. I think the task of us “younger” ones is also to pay attention and be proactive. The past days have shown me that it must be quite tough for the so-called “boomers” (but also those who are older) to accept that they are part of the risk group. I guess it is something nobody wants to think about – when we realise that we are getting older. I am sure I would be as proud and not ask for help. And apart from pride, many of us probably consider ourselves younger than we are.

But let’s forget about pride and age. I think what we all can learn from this crisis is how important it is to help each other out. Hence, pay attention if you have people in your neighbourhood who might need a little help and approach them proactively. It cannot harm to ask. And maybe if you are part of my generation or the Gen Z’s or Gen X’s and you would like to enrich your home office by some further activities, you could think about signing up for volunteer work. Team Austria is one of the many initiatives for neighbourhood assistance. If you are not in Austria or want to support other organisations, you could reach out to your local authority or mayor (if you are in a smaller town) and ask if they need support. Many towns have started their own initiatives as well.

Day 10

Many of us are able to work from our home offices, I would like to draw some attention to some groups who keep our lives running. I have seen many advertisements, posts and pictures about thanking our doctors, nurses, police, and supermarket staff. I would like to extend this list by the following professions which we seem to forget at the moment. Without them, we would not be able to keep going at the moment:

  • Waste collection
  • Postal and parcel service
  • Energy providers
  • Journalists
  • Public transport
  • Truck drivers
  • Cleaning staff
  • Employees of our Foreign Ministry trying to bring Austrians back home
  • Everyone at the hotlines of coronavirus testing and questions around the topic
  • Chefs and staff of restaurants still providing delivery and those who deliver food

A big thank you to all of you!

Please let me know who else should be listed here.

Day 9

I am wondering about the long-term. What will we learn from all this?

First of all, I hope those of us who live in the rich democracies, will appreciate what we have. At the moment, our fundamental rights are limited, some are even suspended. Freedom of assembly is suspended – maybe we do not realise it yet because we all know that most likely these strict measures are unavoidable. But we need to make sure to get these rights back once we have overcome the current times. Our ancestors had to fight hard for those rights and they can be taken away easily. Our task will be to ensure to get all these rights back.

I also hope that our attitude to consumerism and globalisation will change. Do we really need to have everything available all the time? Can we not live with less and make things work with what we have? Do we really need to eat mangoes and papayas and drink coconut milk in countries where these fruits do not even grow? Does the cheese go to waste because it has reached the expiry date, or can we still make something out of it? I hope that people will look more into who made their products and at which price. I am not referring to the price tag but the price the people who make them have to pay – are they in safe workspaces, are the paid a fair price, are their fundamental rights guaranteed?

On the level we work every day, I hope that companies will adapt their corporate culture. We will have proven that remote work actually does work. It does not mean decreased productivity. I also hope that companies will see that by applying more flexible working models, parents (and I am mainly talking about the mothers here) do not have to sit at the office for the mere sake of face time and will trust they can also perform and deliver from home.

On a personal level, I guess we will have learned to appreciate the moment, our families and friends. Maybe it is not necessary anymore to go to the trendiest restaurants or bars where we cannot even talk because the music is so loud. We will have learned again to listen and will enjoy a nice coffee where we will actually listen to the answer of our friend when we ask them “how are you?”. Because we had to learn again that being there for each other and listening is one of the most important things these days.

What do you hope that you will have learned from this?

Day 8 – We Need Some Positive Thoughts

Yesterday, I published some thoughts of the week under my regular Monday Postcard format. Read a funny take on social distancing and staying at home in this week’s Monday Postcard.

Read more about week 1 and the time in Thailand here.

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