Day 31 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Wednesday, April 15, 2020 – Live to Blog from Under a Tax Obligation – Happy (Original) Tax Day!

HEY! Can I withold MY taxes because I don’t think our government has handled the COVID-19 crisis competently and send it instead to the World Health Organization? Just asking!

#alonetogether

I don’t think anyone expected that when we changed the clocks we’d go from Standard Time to the Twilight Zone.

It feels like the Twilight Zone, eh? There are certain moments in your life that always stay with you. The time of COVID-19 will be one of them to be sure.

Speaking of the Twilight Zone, it gave me one of those memorable moments too on Friday, October 11, 1963. I was nine years old and I had two school friends sleeping over. All three of us were big Twilight Zone fans. We were laying on the floor in front of the TV with our faces nearly stuck to the screen. As the intro music played, we all shuddered with excitement. When the “flying eyeball” appeared in the opening, we looked away. But as the narration and music built toward the beginning of the show, we became transfixed.

Finally, it was starting. We were watching the original airing of “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” We had no idea we were watching TV history in the making.

The episode starred a young William Shatner who, three years later, would warp back into our TV sets as the captain of the Starship Enterprise. His nemesis in this episode of the Twilight Zone would be a gremlin whom some would credit with producing one of the most frightening moments in the history of television. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” would become an iconic episode that would inspire two remakes (one as recently as 2019) and numerous parodies and homages in movies.

We couldn’t know any of this, of course, as we lay side by side, only inches from the TV screen. Here’s what we saw (don’t worry, this is a 2 minute 15 second version of the show, complete with the scene that nearly made us wet ourselves):

Did you figure out which scene it was? Yep, that’s right! The one where Shatner can’t decide whether to open the curtain. He finally does, and of course, the gremlin is right there…pressing his face against the window looking right him.

The moment he ripped that curtain to the side, all three of us discovered we could fly. It’s the only possible explanation for how we three found ourselves on the opposite side of the room, behind the sofa, and covering our eyes. We saw that which cannot be unseen…even though we really didn’t see it that well. We were so scared and thrilled out of our minds that all we could think of to say was…“Do it again!”

Years later, when I finally got to see the episode again as an adult, I found it hard to watch that scene at first. In my mind’s eye the gremlin was absolutely hideous and my memory pushed every “stop” button it could to keep me from seeing it again. However, my courageous self prevailed and I watched the scene, leaning in for a prolonged, closer look at the gremlin. What I saw this time was a really good acting job by Shatner who built the tension in the scene up to just the right place for the surprise and, finally, I saw some dude with really bad gremlin make up.

Because of this episode, The Twilight Zone lives on in my mind, and that of at least two of my childhood friends, as the very best that television has ever had to offer.


Meet Cayci Banks – Communications Guru

Cayci Banks is a colleague and friend who is also the VP for Strategy and Communications at 1000 Feathers. She is the backbone of a team of us who produced Leading Through Crisis: A Framework for Nonprofits During Trying Times. Cayci sat down to do an interview with Patrick Jinks, another team member, to talk about communicating in a crisis. Cayci’s advice here is stellar, practical, and actionable. If you are leading a nonprofit, this is 18 minutes of golden advice. If you are not leading a nonprofit, but have a leader you can forward it to, please do. It will build some capital for you for sure!


In Reality

While the COVID-19 pandemic seems like an episode of The Twilight Zone, it is not. How we see it, though, depends on what we believe about it and how we experience it.

  • Some believe it is an overblown panic about a non-crisis and people should be able to live their lives as normal.
  • Others believe it is an inconvenience because it is disturbing their day to day lives.
  • Many believe it is a bad dream because the consequences they are experiencing are severe – lost jobs, businesses put at risk, hunger, the continual threat and worry over infection, and others.
  • Too many believe it is a genuine nightmare because they are experiencing the sickness of COVID-19 and/or have lost friends and loved ones to it.

I’m not here to tell you how you should see COVID-19. I only want you to remember that others will see it differently than you. That is because they are experiencing it differently and because they have a different set of beliefs that inform their experience.

What we have in common, though, are facts. As of today, COVID-19 has infected 2 million people worldwide and 635,000 in the United States alone. Worldwide over 133,000 have died. In the U.S. we can account for nearly 28,000 of those (that’s about 21% of all deaths).

What do these numbers tell us? They tell us this is a serious issue and people are dying, regardless of what we believe about the virus and how we experience it. All this illness, all this death deserves our best efforts to end the spread of COVID-19…whatever it takes, no matter how long it takes.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing you hands, keep wearing your mask, and keep your eyes on the numbers because they tell the whole story.

Tom

2 thoughts on “Day 31 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place”

  1. I remember that one too, Mike. I believe it was one that was remade as well in 2019 by Jordan Peel. Shatner did well on TZ!

  2. I’m remembering another Shatner twilight zone episode, had to wait out an auto repair in a diner that just happened to have truth telling devil right at his table. Beware truth telling devils with answers

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