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Welcome to the machine

justin

Where have I been? Welcome to the machine.

ABBEVILLE – We had cheese quesadillas and hot dogs boiled in water for dinner the other night. No buns.

Our Sunday dinner was hamburgers on the grill, which I tried to make fancy by adding onions, bacon bits and cubes of cheddar cheese like I once saw for sale in the meat department of a grocery store. Half of them ended up being loose meat hamburgers with “seared cheddar cheese crumble” – the other half is still stuck to the grill.

Saturday’s dinner was pizza left over from Saturday’s lunch. Friday was a double order of fried fish from Applebee’s.

It was, hands down, the highlight of the last eight days of my life. Yes, that crispy haddock fried to golden perfection was the greatest thing to happen in a week.

I realize now what I have become: a mere machine that sits at a computer all day, referees the kids, mows the entire lawn when one blade of grass grows higher than the rest and – most blatantly – looks forward to his next meal. That is literally all I do anymore.

Gone is the man who last wrote he’ll miss this extra time with the kids. Also gone is the guy who would still wear non-pajama pants to work all day “just so things feel normal.” And, finally, gone is the person who viewed the extra time at home as a chance to demonstrate his ability to cook.

Gone is my lust for life.

(Okay, I’m being dramatic.)

Here are some positive things I’ve found, which I suspect others are finding as well:

• My discretionary budget is not being used. In fact, it’s to the point that if I don’t use some of it, accounting is going to reduce it the following fiscal year. But I don’t even care. In fact, Amazon is sending me emails stating they miss me. I think the useless trips to Walmart and Lowe’s have made me discover I don’t need the majority of things I buy, so even if I can have them delivered through Amazon, I’m not doing it.

• My kids appreciate things again. Our 5-year-old has far too many toys. Far, far too many. That’s because he generally gets one whenever we go to a store and enjoys it until the next time we go to the store and he gets another. On Saturday, we visited the hardware store in Abbeville and he grabbed a $1 bag of water balloons. I told him he could have them if he stayed with me and didn’t fondle everything on the shelves, which is generally what he does. Folks, he has been so deprived of new toys that this trip was probably the least fondlesome trip to a store we’ve ever had – and each water balloon I filled for him to throw at the cats when we got home was like golden latex. My 14-year-old, meanwhile, was ecstatic when I “ordered” new shampoo for her when my dad said he was going to Walmart yesterday … and she really doesn’t get excited about anything these days.

• My truck is getting a break. When this began, I filled the tank of my truck to reduce my handling of gas pumps. I always reset its odometer when doing this to make sure my gas mileage is where it should be. Since my job requires me to make frequent trips to Nashville, Atlanta, all over North Carolina and even up to Virginia, I average about 2,500 miles per month. The last month? 38.

• I may never stop living like this. This is like that old computer game “The Oregon Trail” where you set off through the unsettled West with your family in a covered wagon. Some members made it, others died from things anti-vaxxers have made popular again: measles, snakebite, exhaustion, typhoid, cholera and dysentery, as well as from drowning or accidental gunshot wounds. OK, so not all of the quarantine experience is like “Oregon Trail,” but the part about venturing into town for reinforcements is. That part, I prefer. That’s a part I hope to retain once it’s again legal to see strangers again.

Schoenberger is a quality assurance training manager with The Budd Group.

About this blog

From telecommuting to the new public home school model, a growing number of us are homebound for the foreseeable future as we take unprecedented steps to slow and hopefully stop the spread of the new coronavirus that is sweeping the world. This blog is our attempt to catalog some of the daily changes we are experiencing together. If you want to share your story with us, email us at newsroom@indexjournal.com.

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