Well, dear internet people, we’ve gone through the looking glass, haven’t we?

This week our newspaper offices closed and dispatched everyone to work from home. My son and his new wife are working from home in Austin and have been for two weeks. My daughter has been working from home for about 10 days, and now is in lockdown in Chicago. All this in the hopes that we don’t transmit COVID-19, the novel and deadly coronavirus, and make this horrible pandemic worse than it is.

Sam is not working from home. And his team is working harder than ever at the WinCo warehouse, because people keep buying groceries and home cleaning supplies at a crazy pace. Their warehouse supplies stores throughout the region. I can’t even imagine what some of those logistics folks are going through right now.

(Here’s just a little PSA to remind you, dear internet people, that there is a line between being prepared and hoarding. If you cross it, you are hurting other people more than you can know — other people you may need one day to help keep you alive. Stock what you use, and use what you stock.)

A tiny part of me wants to pull the disability card and protect Sam and keep him home, too. But that’s not right.

We have already lost one extended family member to the virus. It’s swift and deadly. It requires something new and different from all of us to survive: heroic levels of cooperation and consideration.

A fire ant colony joins together to survive flooding rains. Credit: Texas A&M and Omar Villafranca

I ask him each day how he’s doing, how his team is doing and how the crews are doing keeping things clean at work. Sam is a straight-forward guy. He says everyone is stressed and working hard and also doing their best to stay clean and keep apart. They canceled their regular safety meeting because, well, that wouldn’t be safe.

He’s concerned, but he also wants to be a helper. As Mr. Rogers says, when things are going horribly wrong, look for the people who are helping. Warehouse workers in my town and everywhere in the world are hustling to move product and keep it all from collapsing. I can’t even.

Through the years, different people have said to me that Sam was their hero. Truly, he’s been mine, too. But that’s not quite the same as being _a_ hero.

He put on his jeans and work boots each day this week, walked out the door and came back nine hours later exhausted and hungry, but knowing he did his part.

Internet people, Sam is a hero. We can be, too.

12 Comments

  1. Ann Hatch on March 22, 2020 at 1:32 am

    Can’t imagine what it’s like now to be in Sam’s shoes with so much work for so many people. We are depending on him and others to help us get through these crazy days. Please thank him for me. I try to do the same with others working at Sam’s or Kroger and elsewhere. Condolences, too, for the loss of your extended family member. We live in stressful times and must remember it’s all about people and taking care of each other.

    • Peggy on March 22, 2020 at 1:48 am

      I will do that, Ann. We all must take care of each other now.

  2. Nancy LeMay on March 22, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Mr. Rogers was full of wisdom. There are so many helpers if you take time to look. In this crisis, it’s definitely medical people – doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, researchers, medical aides, and more – and grocery store staff like dear Sam. There are many other heroes, including reporters like you who keep us informed of the constantly changing situation. Bless you all.

    Sam is indeed a hero. I’m so glad to have been able to talk with him a bit when we saw Playwrights in the Newsroom, an outstanding play, two weeks ago.

    From the bottom of my heart, I wish you both the best.

    • Peggy on March 22, 2020 at 3:34 pm

      Nancy, I know you have vulnerable family members. They are in my prayers, as are you and Steve.

  3. Annette Fuller on March 22, 2020 at 10:31 pm

    Thanks for Sam for his work in keeping the shelves stocked! We remain mostly comfortable (and fed) because of folks like Sam. And so sorry for the loss in your family. It’s a reminder we need to take this seriously. Love to you both!

    • Peggy on March 23, 2020 at 2:42 am

      Thanks, Annette. You hang in there, too

  4. Phyllis J. Wolper on March 28, 2020 at 6:17 pm

    Love in the time of Covid-19. I know Sam. I am proud to know Sam. Thanks to Sam and millions like him, most of us are living and working comfortably and safely from our couch. Just saying “thanks” to Sam and those heroes like him is far from adequate considering the huge contribution to society everyday, not just in times of crisis. I also say thanks to his brave mother who has admirably raised Sam and helped him to become the fine (and contributing) man he is today – no small task! In this day of hateful political rhetoric against the “expendables,” the handicapped, the disabled, the elderly, the refugee, and all other non lily whites, I ask, “Where would we be without our Sams?”

    My highly successful son, who is still on the job in the defense industry, was diagnosed at age 6. We were told he’d never support himself. Of my two “adopted” kids of varying races, one is a highly awarded teacher of disadvantaged kids and the other is successful small business owner who supports a household of people. All make large contributions to society, even though none had great prospects as youngsters.

    My hope for the greatest positive outcome after Covid-19 is a realization and appreciation of every human being.

    • Peggy on April 22, 2020 at 1:46 pm

      Sorry it took me so long to come back here and see your comment waiting. Bless you, Phyllis. You have always been a good friend to us and to many others because you know how to see the good in everyone.

  5. Holly Smith Watson on September 15, 2020 at 11:57 pm

    Peggy,
    Long time, no see. Remember me? Think Eastman. Think Rochester. Think Shreveport Symphony. Think my husband fixing your euphonium. Think a long-awaited reunion at a Shreveport Symphony concert. It was beyond wonderful to hug you again!

    Have been thinking about you so much lately, and have thoroughly enjoyed reading many of your posts. Am thrilled to read about your kids and see pictures of Sam! Remember a weekend spent at our house in which Sam was fascinated with the stationary bicycle and the washing machine agitator.

    Hope you are still well, and that Sam is still hard at work as a frontline worker. I’m cheering you ALL on, with the fondest memories, and love.

    • Peggy on September 16, 2020 at 2:34 am

      Think of you all the time, Holly dear. Thank you for being here. Love, love, love it.

      I have to ask, do you play Words With Friends?

      Rekindling Scrabble night with you would be the best.

  6. Holly Smith Watson on September 21, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    Ooooo – Scrabble – boy, that brings back the memories! While watching whatever that medical show was on TV at the time – St. Elsewhere? – in the Eastman dorms! Still remember xmeersis (or however you spell it) – I laughed for hours when you recounted the story of Phyllis trying to get away with that on the Mary Tyler Moore Show! Sorry to say that the hubby isn’t into games the way I am – or was – but he has other lovely attributes!

    To reveal my ignorance, I don’t even know what Words With Friends is… enlighten me!

    You are a gifted and beautiful writer. I SO enjoy reading your posts. What a wordsmith!

    Miss Mark every time I need a tubist. Miss you all the time!

    • Peggy on October 3, 2020 at 6:04 pm

      Words with Friends is a smart phone app that lets you play a Scrabble-like game with friends. If you decide to download the app and play, let me know! It would be like old times.

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