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“And Then COVID Hit…”

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Sometimes the Words Just Choose Themselves 

By Jason Jones 

Messenger Reporter 

EAST TEXAS – There is no blame to be laid, so I will refrain from starting this piece with the words “We’re all guilty of it…” 

But… We’re all guilty of it. 

One day last week I stood on the sidewalk in front of the Messenger office exercising one of the best perks of my job. My dad had strolled over for a visit and my friend of four decades, the illustrious Will Johnson, and I were all casually swapping anecdotes.  

In the middle of one of Will’s stories, he uttered the four words that are quickest to set off a migraine: “…and then COVID hit.” My brain immediately went into tiny convulsions. 

Two years ago, we had no clue what COVID was. Two years ago, we had different ideas of what “normal” was. Today there is a distinct line between “then” and “whatever this is.” That distinct line, much like the equator or the fence around Area 51, separates two distinct entities: life before and life after. 

The phrase itself is practically inescapable. There are thousands upon thousands of stories. Actually, it’s probably more like millions upon millions.  

“Everything at work was going perfectly. I’d put myself in a position to get that big promotion… and then COVID hit.” 

“I had just perfected my lasagna recipe and was going to make it for my girlfriend… and then COVID hit.” 

“I was about to start my diet and get back in the gym… and then COVID hit.” 

“I was dribbling up the sideline, about to pull up for the winning three-pointer… and then COVID hit.” 

It makes me want to poke a fork in my eye. “And then COVID hit” has become the excuse for everything. Personal failure? Check. Poor customer service? Check. The inability to enjoy anything, including a good joke? Check. I’m sure it has also had a huge hand in gas prices and my recent inability to find tater tots at the grocery store too. 

“Are y’all out of tater tots?”  

“Yes sir.” 

“Why?” 

“Well, we had plenty… and then COVID hit.” 

“Ugh.” 

We live in the year 2022. In the past century, many movies were made depicting the future with flying cars and robot butlers and all sorts of other cool things that were supposed to have happened before now. Even the second installment of “Back to the Future” took place in 2015. We ought to have the technology and expertise to nip this in the bud. COVID was, and still is, very real. But there is no reason to allow it to take over every conversation we have with one another. 

Naturally, I have an idea. 

I think we should begin immediately replacing “and then COVID hit,” with something better. Here are a few of my own suggestions: 

“And then the world hit its shin on the trailer hitch.” 

“And then the drop of Tabasco hit us all in the eyeball.” 

“And then the world realized its zipper was down.” 

“And then the dog pooped on the rug.” 

Pretty much anything would be better at this point. At least getting through a conversation would be relatable and moderately funny, at least until we did the translation in our heads and came up with “COVID.” 

COVID has forced some changes for everybody. Some folks have jumped into the deep end of the pool and taken drastic precautions. Others have chosen to view it as an acceptable risk and changed little. I saw the bad end of the spectrum in my very own house. I won’t take up any sort of soapbox except to say this: COVID should not be allowed to consume everything in its path. Even when it goes on a destructive bender, which it has before and will again, at the very least I should be able to have a conversation with my dad and my friend and not call it by name. 

I’m thinking about changing its name altogether. Instead of COVID, I’m leaning toward something like “OTIS.” 

“…and then OTIS hit.” 

Yeah, that sounds better. 

Jason Jones may be reached via email at jjones@messenger-news.com 

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