They say you never really know what you had until it’s gone.

Enter COVID-19.

I have a lot of ideas about what the world will look like from here on out. In fact, I’m inclined to think we’re witnessing a massive, involuntary evolution toward the future. Some day our kids may talk about what it was like before the Great Outbreak of 2020, much as our older relatives talked about life before World War II. No one really fully understands change when they’re in the middle of it. Only later do we become aware of all that effects that events have wrought.

Perhaps it’s a reminder of all we take for granted.  

Will we still use paper money? Even before the word coronavirus became familiar, much of the world no longer did.  Hollywood is already mulling the question of movie theaters. Why expose yourself to crowds when you can safely stream at home? Then there are those massive sporting arenas that dot the land. Will people return to them as before? Think about how the landscape might change if we don’t – particularly now that we’re being forced to discover there might be just life beyond all the sports we thought we couldn’t live without.

But futurism is for another day. Right now, I thought I’d spend some time on the things I’m no longer going to bitch about. Not that I ever have, really – but suddenly I see them in a completely different light.

Maybe you do, too. Maybe you also have a growing list. 

Here’s mine: 

1. Traffic jams. Sure, we’ve all found ourselves stuck on the freeway for one reason or another – and swore at endless backups under our breath. All those people headed to work at the same time? Of all the nerve. But that was then.

2. Full flights. Who among us hasn’t been frustrated by being in the last boarding group, or by going stand-by? But fleets of parked jets are sobering, especially in an airline town.

3. Handshakes. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like we’ve been “socially distancing” for a generation. Our moments of actual person-to-person contact diminish daily.

4. Seats that are too close at the movie. All of a sudden my preferred aisle selection in the middle rows seems picky.

5. Waiting for a table. Forty-five minutes on a Saturday night doesn’t seem quite so annoying any more.

6. Little League games. Quiet walks are great, but the absence of chatter and cheers coming from the diamond nearby is deafening.

7. Crowds of shoppers. Personally, crowded malls have never bothered me. I like people-watching. But next time I’m in a line at the register, I’m going to savor it.

8. No place to park. Circling the lot looking for an open space will forever after be an opportunity for reflection and appreciation.

9. Beating the Methodists. Honestly, was getting caught behind them at Luby’s all that bad? Let the preacher go as long as he needs. 

10. Slow news days. In all my wildest dreams, I never imagined I’d long for the Leaning Tower of Dallas so much.

11. Rushing to get my taxes ready. Next time I need an extension, I’d prefer a virus didn’t file one for me.

12. Packed concerts. Oh, for the days of accidentally rubbing man-bits with a sweaty guy in a grass skirt and a coconut bra at a Jimmy Buffett show.

13. Slow waitstaff. Actually, any waitstaff. 

14. Car pool lines. Granted, my youngest is almost a high school sophomore now, and she’ll be driving herself soon enough – but the joy of seeing her come out the door at 3:50 ended sooner than I’d expected.

15. 7-day deliveries. I ordered a freezer the other day. It might not get here until June…of 2036.

16. Toilet paper snobbery. Instead of a choice between 2-ply or rippled, we’re now nearly ecstatic over finding a square of 2000 grit sandpaper.

17. Being with older loved ones. Honestly, seeing families members forced to visit parents and grandparents at the retirement center through the outside window of their room drives all this home as painfully as any image can.

18. When Netflix wasn’t a necessity. The Greatest Generation had FDR’s fireside chats. We have Tiger King. Some day I’ll have to explain that to my grandchildren, and I’m not sure I can.

19. Squashed loaves. Remember when the bagger put your half-gallon of milk and Mrs. Baird’s in the same sack and it was big deal?

20. “Those coworkers”. Seriously, I think the days of going to the big office-place are done – but did you ever think you’d miss cubby intruders or incompetent managers? Well, some of ’em anyway.

So there you are. Twenty things I find myself missing by their absence. I’m sure there are more.

Let’s pray our current situation doesn’t give us long enough to think of all them.