Excerpts by Henry Lane Hull

by Henry Lane Hull

This year has been momentous for everyone in a plethora of ways. The unexpected has become routine, and the weird normal. What one least expects can be counted upon to happen. What formerly could be assumed is now off the table. What was unimaginable no longer causes an eyebrow to be raised.

Today, to enter a bank, one must wear a mask. How would that have set a year ago? Surely, a teller would have activated the button to summon law enforcement, and by now the masked visitor would be serving time, having been adjudicated by a court of law.

In the old days, doctors made house calls for those unable to get out for office visits. For the most part, that practice ended years ago. At present, it is making a resurgence, but in a novel form. The doctor’s “house call” is literally a telephone call to the patient at home, inquiring as to his or her health. 

On a more physical level, some physicians have begun making “car calls.” A car call occurs when the patient makes it to the parking lot of the medical office, and the doctor comes out to chat curbside. Vital signs can be taken, medications prescribed, and the patient sent on the way. Perhaps not as convenient as the old house call, but still efficient as far as getting a remedy underway. 

In my day, being late for school or playing hooky was a definite no-no for which the student paid the price of detention or being assigned an interminable writing exercise. I never played hooky and almost never was late, but my classmates who were habitual offenders were “encouraged” to abandon their Ferris Bueller activities.

Of late, in many educational venues, the students are not allowed to be present physically, being required to learn remotely. My daughter teaches from an empty classroom, rarely having any in-person contact with her pupils. The situation is not as good as in-classroom instruction, but at least education is struggling to continue.

Previously, a significant household expense centered on gasoline and periodic car servicing, especially for families with multiple cars. In our case, we always drove more than the suggested mileage recommended for regular oil changes, almost never making the three-month interval. For the last six months, we have never reached the 3,000-miles in a normal time span between oil changes.

In-house restaurant dining, which was a traditional staple of culinary behavior, has been replaced by carry-out cuisine, which is equally as tasty, but without the ambience of sitting at a comfortable booth dining at leisure among friends. Restaurants have borne an inordinate share of the burden of the pandemic. In cities, many long-time favorites have succumbed from the closures.

Managers of retail stores that prided themselves on being able to get specialized products to meet their customers’ requests have been put in a hit-and-miss condition where fulfilling the requests totally depends on what they can get delivered. The supply chain disruption has left many store shelves bare, whereas they used to be stocked to the hilt. Personally, for over three months, I have been awaiting the replenishment of three different cheeses.

Lastly, and most importantly, missing going to church has been difficult for many faithful individuals, currently forced to watch services on television or via the internet. The Lord’s Day has morphed into being whatever each worshipper decides to make it. Those churches holding services are for the most part unable to have congregational or even choir singing. Tenors and sopranos do not sound the same, emitting masked voices. Church bells are continuing to ring—but in most cases they are not calling congregants to worship, but merely proclaiming their presence.

Perhaps the ancient Persian adage that has passed into many languages over the centuries affords a proper stopping point for this litany of woe. “This too shall pass.”