My seasonal business pushes this lazy guy’s butt out of hibernation around mid-March. When the last of the “yeah, right” wintry mixes blows through these parts, I tentatively tow my shy weenie wagon up the road to an Irish Festival swarming with bendy little hat people and crafty good booth vendors.
I say tentatively because – after 15 years – I’m never quite ready for it, emotionally. It’s the beginning of a nine month spectacular slinging slog of magnificence ending with another wintry mix mid-November. In that span of 270 days, my stainless friend and I get rained on, have spectacular sale days, see all our fantastic customers, burn food, give Doug hugs, have disagreements, pay a lot more bills, receive sunburns, lose tongs, and cook up dump loads of chili sauce. You know … normal.
This year wasn’t any different. For the first day open or so, anyway. Normal was … well, normal on that green, four-leaf clover “luck-o-the-Irish” day. After that 24 hours, my tow-a-long friend and I parted ways – involuntarily mind you – as I reluctantly backed her into storage. She remained in isolation for 45 days until this past Thursday when I, as squeaky-toned as her well appreciated wheels, hooked her back up to be operational once again.
Under duress of my over-compressed brain, I felt it necessary to serve the public. May 1st, 2020. Friday. The day to be back dipping into melty cheese, planking up Doug’s Dawgs two-by-two in a manner Noah himself would be proud. Time served of 45 days in isolation when, under the terms of take-out and drive-thru, I could have opened. I opted to close down because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. There was – and still is – an abundance of caution that needs to be respected. I feel that is required. Here and now is all of our space.
Here and now is six weeks later. The past two days customers came as I set up in the ArtsAltoona lot located at 6th avenue and 23rd Street in Altoona, PA. Fifteen years in the business with little advertising … I knew they would. Was it throngs of folk? No. A spattering of hungry, regulars came by, ordered and conversed, then left satisfied they received high quality, service, and cleanliness they’ve always expected.
For me, I was so glad to be behind my friend again. Supporting her as she always does for me. Yes, my stainless 10×5 is a “she”. Don’t argue with me. I have my problems in life. Please don’t make this another one. Y’all don’t pick on boat-toting, glee-floaters who have she-sheds with oars, so ….
Anyway, all of the activity those wonderful two days as I was open gave me concern. They felt normal. Even with masking and social distancing, I felt almost normal again. The facts: … Doug’s Dawgs was open for lunch and I felt normal.
FACTS and FEELINGS. Two sides of a very uncomfortable coin right now. A coin we can’t frivolously toss into the Trevi fountain hoping upon hope for overwhelming public consensus and healing of a very public open wound. The facts vs feeling debate rages on faster than the virus itself – to a greater end – and will outlast any supposed vaccine or herd immunity.
The umbrella shading all this is the increased feeling of “normal”. It continues to drive emotions. Protesters in Michigan who storm state office buildings, Governors issuing open-orders trying to get back some sense of “what should be but isn’t”, and grocery store patrons refusing to mask despite concern for their neighbors.
Then we have numbers. Data. Cases and death. Red and yellow counties in Pennsylvania, “facts” and on the ground, basic grind-away, undisputed (possibly, not) figures, Viet-nam comparable death counts. Virologist, immunologist, statisticians, ER doctors, … all the professionals this hotdawg seller/pianist respects … injecting their well-informed opinions into our semi-accepting, very-close, uber-sensitive veins.
Everyone is scampering about … starting to feel normal. And this could be not so good in the near future.
Feelings are not going away. Neither are the facts. The weather is getting warmer around these parts and I will remain open with all the restrictions in place. I “feel” this is the right thing to do. One “fact” too, … I have bills to pay and the season is upon me.
So many are stuck. Small businesses have to make similar decisions. None of us have easy times right now. These everyday normals suck. This fall, depending upon how the virus spreads, or doesn’t, could be a disaster … or not. Facts and feelings will determine a lot of our fates. The equation of the times, right? Facts and Feelings add up to our Fate in the Fall. Four F’s we never saw barreling toward a devil’s crossroad in NormalTown, USA.
Such a paradox with no real answer. We want to feel normal … but acting normal could get all of us in real trouble down that road … if the facts hold true. Ugh.
I feel ya, brothers and sisters. I feel ya. Hang tight. Rough roads we travel … hang on to your dawgs.