By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
File this under “When life gives you lemons.”
For those of us who write, or even speak, about events, challenges and possibilities, 2020 was the year we ran out of metaphors.
2020 was a year of curve balls, fast balls, foul balls, attempted Mulligans, sand traps and water hazards just to name a few.
But as always, the real issue was not what life handed to us, but how we responded.
There’s a cliché that pity doesn’t take you far in life, but you’d never know it by many, especially politicians, who embraced it and used wallowing in pity, avoidance and blaming as their go-to response. But as the saying goes, it didn’t get them very far.
“When the going gets tough, the tough go golfing” will never be an effective strategy.
But effective strategies are what we need right now.
How’s this as a framework; ‘If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain’ arises from the story of Muhammad, as retold by Francis Bacon, in his Essays, published in 1625. This is an old saying – and it was old in 1625.
The premise is simple; if your intended plan will not work, try another one.
This is as true now as it was five-hundred years ago – or a thousand years ago.
As many of us, from individuals to business owners to local or national officials, have tried to respond to the unrelenting sh%#-storm that was 2020, few found anything that worked for long.
Almost everything, from business shutdowns, to mask-up protocols to “stimulus” checks worked for a while. Some stopped the bleeding, or allowed for a “breathing space,” but like our unending mixed-metaphors, nothing could capture the essence, or curtail the impacts of the rolling catastrophes around us.
When life gives us lemons
We had “lemons” aplenty in 2020.
Some of us made lemonade, some of us made lemon meringue pies, others juggled them and others got hit with them, or even buried in them. And they never stopped.
In the restaurant business, for example, the “hits” kept coming.
Some restaurants flexed, some folded, and some flexed again. And again.
Some “solutions” are temporary, and some are permanent.
Outside eating worked for a while – until it didn’t.
Pick-up and to-go worked to a degree. And many establishments are keeping the lights on thanks to loyal customers and pick-up and to-go orders.
But those are survival, stop-gap measures.
Not every restaurant can do those, and we might be learning that any solution will not work for everyone.
Here’s a solution that might work for some, and just might be one of those solutions that we will see on our landscapes almost permanently.
Ice cream trucks.
Not actual ice cream trucks, but the ice cream truck strategy – if the customer can’t come to the restaurant, let’s bring the restaurant to the customer.
It’s sort of an expansion of the food truck idea.
What if food trucks, instead of being at rotating, semi-established sites, roamed our neighborhoods?
I don’t know what kind of music they would play, or even what would be on their menus, but I am convinced that they would be immensely popular, welcome and yes, profitable.
I for one, would be thrilled to have a roving food truck delivering Mexican, Asian or Filipino food to my, or any other semi-predictable neighborhood.
We have had food-truck fairs before, but how about have a series of them on a regular route and schedule?
If we, as customers, can’t come to the food, how about bringing the food to us?
If WFH (working from home) is a semi-permanent feature of the workplace, the market, in every aspect, better learn to adapt to it.
Working from home, shopping from home, watching new movies at home, even schooling at home are the new “normals” for most of us.
Home used to be our private and personal space. Home was “where the heart is” – but now it is where everything is.
From work to school to the ever-invasive (and sometimes embarrassing) Zoom-calls, what we used to call “home” is a very different marketplace, investment and locus for life’s activities than it was – or was ever imagined to be.
For better or worse, for now or for forever, our lives have literally been turned inside out, with our public spaces and urban centers largely empty and our private homes (and pets, and children and décor) public as never before.
If we couldn’t come to the office, the office came to us.
COVID has “inverted” every aspect, and almost every established rule or guideline of life.
The word “vacation” like “work” has taken on a whole new meaning – reluxury has become a new travel term. Luxury is no longer the intent of most vacations – relaxing, even escaping from the relentless news cycle has become a priority.
Another aspect of travel we are likely to see is “bubble – travel.”
Many of us have been kept from each other for so long, that if we can travel, we are more likely to travel together with long-missed friends or family members.
In every sense, the market has changed, we have changed and what is important to us has changed.
And in every area, if we can’t get to the market, bring the market to us.
Just like every other cultural or economic shift, those who can adapt will prevail, and those who cannot, won’t.
But either way, our expectations, our tastes and even our tolerances will look nothing like they did a few years ago.