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Will these days ever be the good old days?

My wife, Kerry, and I had some business we needed to take care of at Chase Bank in Jacksonville that would involve a sit-down with the branch manager. As we parked the van and started making our way to the bank’s front door, I couldn’t help reflect on this day’s reality versus the same scenario a year earlier.

Imagine being a bank manager sitting at his desk or a teller counting cash a year ago, and you see Kerry and me approaching, securing our face masks as we enter. Chances are the silent alarm would have been activated before we could have opened that first door. Our local law enforcement would have screeched into place, preventing any attempt to rob the bank and/or escape.

That was the reality of our world not that long ago. During a recent sermon, our pastor reflected on “the good old days” when masks were worn in the operating room or in some far-off country ladened with unbearable smog. Social distancing referred to how far away the party was. The good old days was a reflection on the roaring ’20s, or the days of the Great War — days long ago, not months earlier when the thought of a microscopic entity turning the world upside down was inconceivable.

For me, the good old days were the days of my youth, when life was far simpler. My only responsibility during the good old days was to stay beneath the parenting radar. By the time I reached my teenage years, my three older siblings had my mom and dad completely worn out. There was no strict monitoring of my homework to ensure it was error-free. There were no consequences or accountability for the decisions I made. I remember thinking that this is what it must be like to be an adult. I liked it, I liked the good old days a lot.

So here I am reflecting back over 50 years while trying to navigate the new norm. How can someone wear a face mask every time they leave the house? Now the question is how could they not? What will ever become of mankind? Is this simply a step up in our evolution or a fatal step toward our eventual extinction. I never thought I would see the day when mankind would be brought to its knees in a microscopic battle for survival.

So as my wife and I entered the bank looking like wannabe robbers, a smile hid beneath the fabric of my mask. My imagination was reeled in as the cold air conditioning greeted us. Our focus shifted to banking business, leaving behind the abstract contemplations of the meaning of the good old days.

Hopefully we will soon find ourselves in a time when we will reflect back upon the events of today, including eradicating coronavirus once and for all. But I ask you, with a tearful eye, will we ever be able to refer to this tragic day and age as the good old days?

Richard Hunter lives in Jacksonville.

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