Life As I Knew It

Today, March 26th, 2020 is the first official day of Mecklenburg County’s “stay at home” order that will last until April 16th. The idea is to keep everyone away from each other long enough to stop the spread of Covid-19, a coronavirus that is devastating people in places around the globe. Closer to home, it is devastating our printing business … and pretty much everyone else’s business if they aren’t in healthcare, banking, groceries or toilet paper.

While many people were sleeping in this morning, watching Jerry Springer, working from home, or trying to figure out how to entertain their kids who have now been out of school for twelve days, I was up at six o’clock to get ready to go to the office. Our business closed to clients, I spent the morning gathering documents that will be needed to apply for the government sponsored stimulus package loans. I came in planning to print out the government bill so I could highlight whatever applied to us. I don’t know what I was thinking. This was a document created by politicians so, not only was it difficult to decipher, it was also about 850 pages long!

It didn’t take long for my head to hurt and my mind to wander.

Five days ago, I turned 55. The last time I had three weeks stretching out in front of me that I knew would not be filled with work, I was 18. On June 4, 1984 my dad and I started CRC Printing Co. in the backyard shop. For thirty-six years, I’ve gotten up before 6:00AM to head to work. For the first two and a half years, I was also going to UNCC, until I graduated in December of 1986. Unless we were on vacation (still 2 weeks a year after 36 years of service!) or I took the rare “mental health day”, I knew I would be at CRC Monday through Friday for at least eight hours a day. Most days went pretty fast. That’s what happens when you are busy. It’s important to me to spoil our customers. I want to give them the best work I can in the least amount of time for a fair price. That’s always been my mission. Sometimes that meant coming in early or working late. It often meant I lost sleep, worrying about things both in and out of my control.

This week, the shop has been a ghost town. I’ve slept maybe three hours a night in the last two weeks. Anxiety, stress, uncertainty about what the future holds fill my every waking minute. I am trying to force myself to believe that everything will eventually be okay.

I would give anything right now to be able to enjoy the break from business as usual. I’d like to be able to sit outside and soak up the sun, to work on things I enjoy, to read a book or ten in the next three weeks. I even wish I could work from home, like so many others are doing, but there’s nothing to do. All of my small business clients are afraid to spend a dime, as unsure of the future as I am.

Twenty-one days stretched out in front of me with no work in sight would have sounded like paradise to me a month ago. Today it seems like the end of life as I knew it.

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