BOB LOBLAW/VOICE

September 8th—a great day for students, a sad day for bushy-tailed rodents

For many students, this marked the official end of a six-month March Break. And while most of those kids might normally dread the end of summer, I got the feeling that many were itching to get back to something tangible, something that they could sink their teeth into—masks notwithstanding. The experiment of going back to school may be short-lived as a second wave hovers and threatens to tear apart what is so tenuously stitched together, but, to use an autumn metaphor, we’ll just rake up our pile of leaves and hope we don’t land in dung when we jump in, proving once again that a ready, fire, aim approach can be the best approach.

For squirrels, this was a very bad day indeed. It appeared that a genocide had occurred, as so many of these unsuspecting little guys went innocently about their business, freely crisscrossing streets and undeterred by traffic, which had decreased dramatically over the past six months.

In Pelham, anyway, our furry friends had recently been conditioned to believe that living among humans had become a relatively safe place to be. No one told them that September 8th would provide an immediate end to their peace and love days, treated as equals on the roads because people weren’t in a hurry anymore, if they were even in their cars at all. Those nice people slowed down and gave them time and space to cross the road, even though the squirrels’ only purpose seemed to be to get to the other side. The humans on foot even brought them nuts, and our squirrels were living the dream and finally getting the recognition they deserved. But as I drove the short distance to and from school on that fateful day, I saw six of them, not long previously crushed by school buses and other vehicles getting our learners back to school, proving once again that a good education comes at a cost. Rest in peace, little buddies.

***

When restaurants opened, we were hesitant to join in, having gotten used to a pretty predictable menu created by Master Chef Mom. Not having access to good food, prepared well by restaurateurs, lowered the bar significantly in our home, and delicacies like my Sunday night turkey stroganoff was declared “on point” by my panel of Bobby Flay judges.

Now we’re ordering curbside and this has proved to be a new challenge altogether. First, I’m lured into choosing from the menu because it appears to be an easy thing to do. But then I’m overwhelmed with creating an account and a password, and figuring out how to use my gift card and, hey, why can’t I add a note that I want my sauce on the side? Twenty minutes later and I’m hangry and frustrated. I could have prepared Wednesday night mac and cheese in less time!

Here’s what happened a couple of nights ago, and this could only happen to me, says my patient husband (who has, on one occasion, been sent to the wrong airport due to my organizational deficiency). I went online at Restaurant A to check out the menu. It was fine and had some good salad options, but I wanted to compare it to Restaurant B. After scrolling through several menu sections, I decided on using Restaurant B but couldn’t even find a phone number to contact them—they were forcing me to do it online. It was late, it had been a long day, and I was just too tired to go through the online procedures at the time. There has to be a contact number here somewhere, I thought. I used my back button to examine the previous menu pages and found that elusive phone number.

I spoke to a perky lady, who was pleased to help me. “I’d like the pecan chicken salad,” I began.

“I’m so sorry,” she interrupted, “but we’ve removed that item from our menu. Can I interest you in an Asian steak salad?”

“Oh, that sounds even better. And I’d also like three orders of your buffalo chicken dinner.”

“We only have those as appetizers now, but you can make it a double order.”

“Sure. That’s great.” She gave me a pick up time of 40 minutes later.

We pulled up to the curbside pick up spot at Restaurant B, and my husband called in our arrival. The woman on the phone was flustered and put us on hold. A manager came out to our car to speak with us, apologizing profusely. Another customer with the same name had just picked up an order and they may have given him ours. We told him that, unfortunately, we would have to go elsewhere and get some fast food–it was just too late in the evening to put in another order. He scurried away as fast as a squirrel in traffic with the intention of retrieving a gift card for our troubles.

My husband looked at me quizzically, which happens more often than I would like to admit.

“Are we even at the right place?” he asked.

“Of course,” I replied over-confidently, pulling out my phone and pushing redial for the number of the restaurant where I had placed the order.

“Thank you for calling Restaurant A. How can I…”

Click.

Whoops. Now what are the chances of all those coincidences occurring for the same dinner order? My husband quickly pulled out of our parking spot and we quietly disappeared into the night, arriving a little late at Restaurant A, where I had accidentally placed our order. While we waited for delivery to our car, we were entertained by a guy surrounded by beers and buddies, vomiting into a garbage can nearby—naturally, I took credit for booking dinner and a show, proving once again that when life gives you lemons, even though you ordered lemonade, you should squeeze all the enjoyment you can out of them.

***

I was at the grocery store the other day and was startled at the sight of a long aisle of empty shelves where the toilet paper and paper towels should be. C’mon people! Really? I know things are getting bad in the more populated parts of the province, and while I do take this pandemic seriously, please be sensible. The verb to hoard is an ugly one, both aurally and by definition.

If you went to Costco and bought two packs of 40 rolls of toilet paper, according to my limited math skills, you would have 80 rolls. That’s one roll a day for 80 days! If you’re using half a roll per day, which, depending on the size of your family, may be quite reasonable, those packs will last you 160 days or 5.3 months! And yet, we need more.

I saw a couple (obviously together) at Costco each with a cart containing 80 rolls of toilet paper, adhering to the two-pack per person limit. Together, they had 160 rolls of toilet paper! Maybe they were buying it for a school, or for the country of Lichtenstein—or, like the Kardashians, they needed it to T.P. someone’s mansion, and I shouldn’t judge, but it seemed excessive, even by pandemic standards, proving once again that no job is finished until the paperwork is done.

In conclusion, can we please do our part to beat COVID-19 without beating each other? Continue to support our front-line workers, but also support our students and teachers, shop sensibly, order food with attention to detail, and give squirrels the right of way. Because we’re still all in this together.

 

Everyone has a tail tale to tell. Send yours to Column Six!