Dumb leaders, smart businesses and the future of normal…..

Strange news these days.  Almost all the ‘feeds’ are the same, they are content to fill the first ten stories with Covid 19 numbers, “X new cases, Y now dead!”  But these stories usually follow several announcements of re-openings of provinces, states, public facilities, etc.  “We must still be vigilant but kissing and hugging is now gradually re-opening.”

I don’t get it.

South Korea (one of the best managed C-19 countries previously) re-opened (carefully) and so many people caught C19 already from just going to nightclubs they have now closed all the nightclubs.  Duh. 

Quebec is being savaged by the disease and the premier is keen to re-open.  He wants the schools to be amongst the first.  The day before the province began reopening, Quebec public health officials reported 892 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, and added 1,317 cases that had previously been missed by computer error.  I never trust government and have virtually removed myself from their direct influence and yet, they have managed, in their efforts to re-open too soon, to drop even lower in my estimation.

Mind you, this blog is not just about diminished to non-existent trust in government, it is really an observation that the vast majority of people do NOT want to re-open as per government instructions.  Or, better put, they have already adapted to a quasi-reopening of their own making (the lock-down you may recall it was mostly voluntary) and they are content to keep it that way.  A few examples:

Costco is a model of ‘doing business’ in this time of plague.  They are so good at it, their adjusted business model processes (very likely) the same amount of shoppers in a better shopping environment and everyone in the store is masked and gloved.  Half the customers came dressed that way, too.  Costco has a designated traffic controller at the front door letting in the exact number of shoppers as those who are just leaving.  Four go in when four come out.  There is another traffic manager at the cashiers.  The best part of that, is that the lineups are smaller but, for Costco, the cashiers are still going full-tilt.  It doesn’t appear as if Costco is losing a single customer.  We went.  Waited 15 minutes.  Shopped in less time and paid and got out in less time.  Estimate: maybe five minutes longer but much less frustration.  I do not want Costco to go back to normal.

Other stores have adopted their own ‘C-19’ protocols usually just limiting customers to one or two at time.  I guess that cuts down on community transmission and allows the staff to keep their distance.  It also allows a bit more customer service and a more pleasant interaction.  I like it.

Our community has embraced food delivery.  We get a water-taxi delivering about $1500 – $2000 worth of food every week.  For us, that’s only about ten to twelve orders but that is a dozen trips to town saved, hours spent shopping saved, no one exposed to random huggers and kissers and gallons and gallons of fuel saved.  Why would we ever go back?

Admittedly, not every business can adapt and change so easily and well as Save-On and Costco.  But there is no doubt that C-19 will alter the way some businesses operate in future and, in my opinion, some of it is for the better.

But, before I end on a happy note, let us stand in silent condolence for a minute for anything to do with public transportation.  I think C-19 will alter travel habits forever and even with re-opening, the entire industry will never be the same.  There will be more trucks on the road delivering and distributing and even direct-to-customer business models (street kitchens) but the passenger-car-to-the-mall at the drop of a hat will be less.  Flying will be reduced.  Mass transit (already loathed) will be changed by more people working from home.  And so it goes.

Me?  Well, I am thinking about one last winter away.  So, I am looking at ‘how to get there’.  And, to be honest, I was not keen on any of the ways to get anywhere save for driving my own car and that was BEFORE Covid.  Today, I would not even consider a cruise-line and flying is almost as verboten.  Packing in tight with people in a small space breathing recirculated air is simply not an option.  Still, I look and the price of air fares is slowly going down but how is dropping a price 10% going to change anyone’s mind on sucking infected air?  The only way people will fly happily in future is lots and lots of space between passengers, 100% fresh air, mandatory face masks and a dedicated cleaner for the lavatories and – even then – who needs it?

My point?  Re-opening to normal cannot be realistically achieved anytime soon – perhaps never.  It is time for the knuckleheads to re-think what ‘opening’ means now and make the necessary changes so that there is a chance at some kind of normalcy.  Starting with nightclubs was just plain stupid.  Following that with schools is even stupider.

In fact, it is no coincidence that hospitals should be the lead on this – they need to have screening and cleaning stations at every entrance.  Which overpaid knucklehead can get that done?

9 thoughts on “Dumb leaders, smart businesses and the future of normal…..

  1. “The only way people will fly happily in future is lots and lots of space between passengers, 100% fresh air, mandatory face masks and a dedicated cleaner for the lavatories and – even then – who needs it?”
    I would venture to say that those whose loved ones are in a country 7,000 miles or so away might want to travel by air. I might feel the need to do so, while my private yacht is in the shop.

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    • No question some flights will need to be taken. I just think there will be far fewer and I do not think the volume will ever come back – not without significant changes.

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  2. Hi David, I agree!
    Shopping and our whole life style has changed!
    When I go shopping now, it seems kind normal to patiently wait in line, no pushing and hurrying…everyone seems more polite and more at ease. And definitely online shopping got a boost here as well!
    Just the restaurants and pubs are suffering, although the smart ones have switched to take-away, delivered at your doorstep should you wish to do so.
    We restarted last monday, no traffic jams, no hurrying, still lots of people work from home
    I used to fly to Poland every 2 weeks to visit our factories,put in 18 hours working days, stress from sitting at airports, missing planes, spending another night in a hotel….now “all” is solved by videoconference. Well, it’s no substitute for face to face meetings, but I will do with a LOT less flying in the future….there’s really NO fun in businesstrips!
    So hopefully we all open our eyes, see that things CAn be done differently, but mankind is stupid….so we might forget all these lessons in a few months when hopefully we will return to “let’s call it normal”

    With the water taxi deliveries, you’re actually 1 step less OTG no….?

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    • As I have said before, OTG is NOT supposed to be synonymous with dirty, hard, brutish and suffering. The truth is that sometimes it is (especially getting started from scratch) but we have the potential for making it almost easy. Well, wood-getting will always be a difficult chore but much of the challenge after building is just logistical. OTG Is NOT convenient but it does NOT have to be difficult. Many very, very OTG people get supplies flown in! So, delivery is not too decadent a service and it is not like we moved off the island and bought a condo. In fact, we are buying weekly just to support the program. We would easily buy monthly and still be well stocked. So, by that definition (my own) we are just as OTG as we have ever been….maybe more because we do not go to town as much.

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      • Well, for sure I would do the same thing, and counting all the time and gas saved….some scotch can be bought from the gas money saved…that’s a benefit you can’t ignore!

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      • True. But getting scotch delivered is difficult. One good friend sent a bottle up but with a note attached, “NOT to be opened except by me!” Meaning, I have to wait for his visit. Of course, I am honouring that request but currently wondering just how GOOD a friend he is……?

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  3. Here i am stuck in the city. We have been retired for the past few years and live a quit life here in Steveston. No shopping at costco (i hate box stores), safe at Save-on as Dave says pleasant line-ups directed at the door and checkout counters. Liquor store can get a bit long but I find not so bad anymore. Not much has changed for us doing Zoom with family members from Alberta and the West End. Uberconference with my Rotary family (our club just donated $5000 to Richmond breakfast and lunch fund) we are working to raise funds for more projects. Walks and bike rides to get out in the nice weather keeping social distancing all the while. What we miss is the personal touch with our immediate family and the possibility of travel. Oh well the first world problems.

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    • You and I have 1st world problems, fer sure. But it’s hard being this fortunate, ya know? Choosing what gourmet meal to cook, watching whales, feeding ravens, writing blogs…..and the choices on Netflix!! Don’t get me started. In actuality, we do have a few real problems……or challenges, rather. We are gonna hafta get on the firewooding soon. And I am building a solar oven and that is a challenge, too. I may just have to take it easy, you know. Relax. Shed some stress. Drink some wine. First world problems have first world solutions.

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