President’s Message – Finding a New Normal

By Russell Warner, TOCA President

Man, do I hate that saying. It’s as annoying as “game changer.” However, as I am writing this, it is currently day 48 of quarantine in the Warner household. Up is down; down is up; I forgot what day it is; I gave myself a very unfortunate haircut; I have finished a countless number of bourbon bottles; dogs and cats are living together – mass hysteria! This is our new normal – at least for the time being.

In all honesty, the quarantine hasn’t been that bad (aside from the haircut… that was really bad). In general, I am a stay-at-home type of person. My wife and I drive in to work together, work together, drive home together and obviously live together. We are used to seeing each other an unhealthy amount of time. So, this extra time in the house has been nothing out of the ordinary.

Business has, for the most part, gone on as usual… and with a couple upgrades! I now sit in a very comfy office (formerly “the cat’s room”) and I no longer have to smell whatever people are heating up in the kitchen next to my typical cubicle.

I do understand that we are luckier than most. We haven’t lost any loved ones to this terrible virus. We haven’t lost our jobs. We don’t have to keep children on track with their schoolwork. (God bless you parents out there.)

Here is what I miss: I miss seeing my colleagues and friends at work every day. I miss stopping and grabbing takeout and drinks with friends after work. I miss going to sporting events. Lord do I miss live sports…

Here is what I have really enjoyed about this time at home: Video calls. I never knew how enjoyable it could be to catch up with friends and family via Skype, Facetime, Zoom or whatever your video chat of choice. Honestly, it is one of the things that has really helped keep me sane during all of this and I’ll probably keep it going with those I don’t typically get to see often.

Here is what we can learn: Everyone is going through something different and handling it in different ways. I have restricted my social media intake more than usual because I just can’t take the back-and-forth. This is not a political or religious issue. This is a human issue. We are all in this together, so treat people the way you would like to be treated. Have some perspective about what others are going through. Make an extra donation to a local food bank if you can. Reach out to friends and family, even if it’s just a text or video chat. You will not regret it.

If you are struggling during this time and need to chat, give me a call or send me a text. If you just want to catch up – I’ve said it numerous times – I love to talk! I’m also a good listener.

I hope everyone is staying happy and healthy and I REALLY hope to see you during our virtual conference.