Sometimes we wake up and think life during a pandemic isn’t so bad. We hop out of bed, skip to the kitchen to make coffee, and when we take that first tongue-tingling sip, we wonder what delightful surprises the day will bring. A life of isolation is glorious, we think, because we get so much more done. Bring it on!

Other times we lie awake in dread. We squint when day breaks, stub our pinky toe when we stumble out of bed, and —due to this being COVID-19 and all—we take our temperature but don’t know why because it ends up there is no normal when it comes to body temp. (Ninety-eight-point-seven is so passé.) We pour leftover coffee into a mug that says, “Wake me when it’s over,” and then spend the rest of the day thinking about what we shoulda/coulda said in every Zoom meeting we’ve been on in the last week.

If someone is around and they observe our funk, they may smile gently, take our hand in both of theirs, and in a reassuring voice say something encouraging like, “What could possibly go wrong today that you and I together can’t handle?”

How rude to interrupt our anxiety with a positive attitude!

“Put a mask on it!” we might growl and leave the room, and then realize that perhaps we blew our crabby cover by saying something nice to someone who loves us very much. Which we did.

We worry all the live long day, and when we lug ourselves back to bed we find on the pillow a piece of paper with little red hearts and smiley faces drawn around its border. The paper is titled “Signs To Help You” and this is what it says:

A sign in a shoe repair store reads:

“We will heel you.

We will save your sole.

We will even dye for you.”

A sign on a blinds and curtain truck says:

“Blind man driving.”

A sign over a gynecologist’s office:

“Dr. Jones, at your cervix.”

In a podiatrist's office:

“Time wounds all heels.”

On a septic tank truck:

“Yesterday’s Meals on Wheels”

At an optometrist’s office:

“If you don't see what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.”

On a plumber’s truck:

“We repair what your husband fixed.”

On another plumber’s truck:

“Don't sleep with a drip. Call your plumber.”

At a tire shop:

“Invite us to your next blowout.”

On an electrician’s truck:

"Let us remove your shorts.”

In a non-smoking area:

“If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and will take appropriate action.”

On a maternity room door:

“Push. Push. Push.”

At a car dealership:

“The best way to get back on your feet—miss a car payment.”

Outside a muffler shop:

“No appointment necessary. We hear you coming.”

In a veterinarian’s waiting room:

“Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!”

At the electric company:

“We would be delighted if you send in your payment on time.

However, if you don’t, you will be de-lighted.”

In a restaurant window:

“Don't stand there and be hungry; come on in and get fed up.”

In the front yard of a funeral home:

“Drive carefully. We’ll wait.”

In a tattoo parlor:

“Covering ex’s names since 2004.”

At a propane filling station:

“Thank Heaven for little grills.”

In a pizza restaurant during the pandemic:

“Order two pizzas, pay for them both.”

Sign on the back of another septic tank truck:

“Caution—this truck is full of political promises.”

And finally, in the produce aisle:

“I love you from my head tomatoes.”

You stand there, paper in hand, one corner of your mouth turned up, and shake your head. You realize somebody’s giving you a sign that they’re looking out for you and maybe things aren’t so bad after all.

And consider this: what could possibly go wrong that we, together, can’t handle? Sleep well.

You may let The Thunker know what you think at her e-mail address, donoholdt@gmail.com.

© 2020 Sarah Donohoe

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