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These past few months have certainly turned a lot of lives and businesses upside down. It's been like living in a sci-fi movie. How quickly the world has changed in the presence of an invisible "bug." As individuals and business owners, we all need to decide how we will move forward. Know that we are all responsible for the effect we have on one another as a result of the tough decisions we need to make today and in the future.
It is very encouraging to see how tradesfolk rise to challenges such as this: continuing to provide service, navigating changing job conditions and transforming buildings to care facilities in mere days.
Across the globe, neighbors are helping neighbors during this COVID-19 pandemic. Retirees are coming back to health care to help where they can. Doctors, nurses and supporting health-care workers are moving across the country to offer their time and expertise. I know several industry folks who are manufacturing masks, face shields and components personally in their homes.
This novel coronavirus seems to have a more prolonged and more severe harm potential compared to previous virus strains we have evolved through. I don't know that any of the experts are 100-percent sure where this all ends up. Going forward, what, if any, steps will you consider for protection from this or other viruses? Indeed, this is not the last outbreak we will see.
Global travel, with thousands of planes in the air and ships moving around the seas, adds complexity. A virus or illness could hit every country on the planet in a few weeks. A facemask is an option to consider when at customers' homes, for peace of mind — for you and them. Is handshaking going to fall out of favor? As a frequent traveler, I'm all for keeping the middle seat empty on airliners!
Maybe not so many gents will leave the restrooms without washing their hands. As a society, I wonder if some will go back to the way they lived before. Others will make the needed changes and adjustments, knowing and understanding how viruses spread.
For the past 12 years, I have traveled around the United States and Canada doing hydronic training. My trips have taken me to all 50 states, most of the Canadian provinces and many destinations in Europe. I have enjoyed meeting and chatting with folks from all parts of the industry.
I do lunch-and-learns at engineers' offices, counter days at wholesalers, and training classes at vo-tech schools and union halls. Often, we rent a conference room at a hotel to put on a training event. As you can imagine, there is a lot of close contact involved.
Air travel itself is the definition of "close contact," both physically and in the air that all passengers are breathing. Many touch the same surfaces throughout the trip. I've read the magazine pouches on the seats have the highest germ potential as they see anything from diapers to laptops. Ew!
The connection challenge
So, with all this travel and training on hold, my challenge is to find ways to stay connected and still provide educational programs. Fortunately, we have been using online methods for the past decade for our monthly "Coffee with Caleffi" webinars. The switch to 100 percent online was fairly easy for me. We have the video conferencing service pretty well figured out. We've learned how it can fall apart ("Mute yourself!") and how to leverage and manage all the features.
Numerous options exist for presenting remotely. Weekly, our family gathers via Zoom or Facetime to engage in a family get-together. We hosted a talent show on Facetime and a trivia contest on Zoom. Next up: a lip-sync contest! Ellen's 90-year-old mom, Yai Yai, can join in on Facetime because it is that easy. And she is super-motivated to participate.
So, once you are on board with an online medium, both work and play are possible across the miles. Not being able to hold my baby granddaughter is tough, though. Facetime doesn't capture that experience.
The extra time at home has been a luxury in many ways. It has allowed me to settle into projects I am usually struggling to find time for. The fence line is straighter and the grass trimmer than last year. I've been participating in more live webinars by other industry experts, and always have a podcast or YouTube video cued up. It's been a long time since I have spent so much time learning, not just teaching.
Ellen and I have had fun hanging out. It's nice to dine at home, something we use to do only a few times a week. My cooking has improved. Ellen's not so much. She has turned me on to yoga, a discipline I am starting to enjoy. Still feel pretty stiff, but I'll report back in a couple of months. Our two dogs, Molly and Sox, seem delighted to have me around. Whenever I would pull out my suitcase, they would pout. It's nice to spend time with them, too.
I, like most, miss the social "live" gatherings. Time will tell how or if we return to that method of social engagement for the sake of training the industry. I hope it never goes away entirely. Morphing to more online platforms will take away much of the travel hassle, delayed and canceled flights, hotel shuffles, rental car challenges, etc.
You and I will be in a different place, I expect, by the time this magazine arrives in front of you. I hope to see you again soon, on the screen or in your office. Stay well until then. Keep smiling!