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Kevin J. O'Toole, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is a former New Jersey State Senator. (Photo: Kevin J. O'Toole.)

The O’Toole Chronicles: Who Knew?

By Kevin O'Toole, April 29 2020 12:00 am

As we continue to move through this seemingly uncertain and never-ending time, I am fairly confident that we will return to something that resembles our former life. Yes, many aspects will change, but we will soon understand the new world order and re-train ourselves to live a little bit differently.

During this unprecedented lock down, as we deal with this pandemic, we have all discovered a few things about ourselves.

Who knew:

  • That we could actually spend 2 months at home without going crazy (jury is still out for some).
  • That we could help our kids with homework while working full-time (a newfound respect for teachers).
  • That we could actually take time to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with our family (the Beav would be happy).
  • That we were all Rachel Ray in the kitchen.
  • That we would actually look forward to returning to our workplaces and seeing co-workers (loud talkers don’t seem so annoying anymore).
  • That we would reach out to friends and relatives (that we have avoided for years) to see how they are or if they need help.
  • That we would finally come to appreciate healthcare workers as true front-line heroes.
  • That we would re-discover our police, fire and emergency workers are so special.
  • That waiters, cooks, truck drivers, farmers, grocery store workers and others that we routinely overlooked are actually holding our fragile society and economy together (the only stable piece of our shattered existence at the moment).
  • That our kids look to us for the answers and for once we might come up empty.
  • That you had the time and patience to do a 1,000 piece puzzle (those who are not working from home of course).
  • That we would miss going to the local diner.
  • That we would miss sitting in traffic.
  • That Zoom would make drinking at home alone on a Friday night okay.
  • That group texts with friends that include mindless memes or gifs would be appreciated.
  • That when we were making-up reasons to be socially distant from people, there would come a point where you miss your annoying neighbor stopping you to talk.
  • That we look forward to doing the things that made most of our lives “routine and boring.”

As we come closer to the end than the beginning of this crisis, I offer a few comments to our elected officials:

  • Be positive, truthful and let science speak for itself.
  • Understand waiting for a perfect flattening might never happen.
  • Understand people who are dying deserve a dignified end and every life is precious.
  • Individuals as well as families are struggling, and the economy needs to be jump started and sometimes the bubble of government life prevents you from feeling that real pain.
  • Stop thinking that you need to fill the air with some proclamations or statements – less is more.
  • Did I mention be positive…not Pollyannaish, but positive, because in times like this people desperately crave hope and direction.

Eventually this, like everything in life, will pass, but certainly not without casualties and a re-examining of how we go about our daily lives. In the end, we might even use these lessons to make ourselves better and cherish the moments we have – who knew.

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