David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
NOT Traveling Blog, 1st Week Of April
In 2014 I was voted by USA Today readers as one of the top ten business travel bloggers in the USA. Now mind you, I turned out to be number ten on the list of ten, but I did make it on (with my thanks to all those who voted.) Now that we’re all stuck at home and not traveling, I had to think about what to do with my blogs. I could stop writing them entirely – waiting till we all get through the current COVID19 pandemic / crisis. I could wax nostalgic and/or complain about past trips. Or, I could focus all of my efforts on my day job – growing the use of collaboration technologies – especially in light of how many people are now forced to use those tools for the first time. In reflecting upon those choices, what I decided to do is compile an ongoing list of observations during the crisis. Some of these may amuse, some may inform, some may sadden and others may help. My goal will be for you to have seen something in a different light than you did before you stopped to read the blog. I was going to apologize for how disjointed these thoughts may seem when put together, but then it dawned on me that feeling disjointed is our new normal – at least for a little while.
So, in no particular order:
· As this pandemic started to reveal how tremendously impactful it was going to be to our lives, every company we’ve ever dealt with started sending us emails from their CEO or leadership stating how they were putting safety first and working to improve their response to the crisis. We all quickly found out how many firms had us on their email lists – and how many felt it was necessary to slam-out a me-too message lest they be considered callous by their customers. In reality, most of these email messages had a far more negative effect than a positive one. After the tenth or the twelfth message of this type that a person reads, they become numb to the positive messaging, and just experience a roll-eyes moment. Companies that always supported their customers and employees will still be perceived as doing the right thing in the crisis. Companies that mistreated its customers and employees could never be saved by an email blast that tries in vain to sound sincere. It’s odd that more firms didn’t realize this from the bubbles of their corporate headquarters (or home offices.) Read this parody to understand how we all saw these messages from the very earliest moments of the crisis, and how futile it is for a poorly-perceived organization to improve its perception with shallow statements of care:
· It’s apparently very difficult to get reliable information on how long the coronavirus stays ‘alive’ on surfaces. I’ve seen on-line charts showing how many days for plastic, metal, cardboard etc., and then I read this story that the virus was found on surfaces of one of the infected cruise ships after weeks. The only safe assumption is that everything that comes into our houses must be completely disinfected. After any expedition to the grocery store we need to remove everything from the bags and place it on plastic on a table, then spray it down with alcohol. Everything. The fruit, the cereal boxes, the bagged bread – everything. Also, after a doorstop delivery or a mail delivery these things need disinfecting too. The box the item was delivered in, the actual item’s box (as it was sorted by hand by the shipper), even the letters and magazines. And in just one of the many small ironies this crisis has brought-out, forget about those environmentally friendly reusable shopping bags unless you want to have to disinfect those each time too. Every plastic or paper bag that comes into the house needs to be immediately disposed of. Every box (that we used to stack then recycle) gets crushed or folded then bagged to prevent our cats from brushing-up against any possibly contaminated surfaces and carrying the virus to us. Then we strip and wash everything we wore. It’s impossible to know if we’re going overboard or if we’re being smart. I’d rather that we prepare for the worst.
· And, as long as I’ve mentioned disinfecting everything, I should explain that we took a standard household spray bottle and filled it with a mixture using 7 parts of 99% industrial Isopropyl Alcohol and 3 parts distilled or bottled water. (70% alcohol to 30% water is usually how rubbing alcohol is sold, and when slightly diluted with water it is more effective at killing germs and viruses.) We managed to buy the alcohol on Amazon a few weeks ago. I noticed today that it’s no longer available but keep checking in case they make more.
· Moving on to food issues, now that restaurant dining rooms are closed and those eateries that do remain open have switched to take-out / delivery only, how does one ensure that meals are safe to eat / not touched by diseased hands? We really want to order from neighborhood merchants to support them, but how do we ensure we’re safe? We ordered Chinese food the other day – and paid by credit card for a doorstop delivery (and included a nice tip for the delivery person) – but how do we disinfect that package? We disposed of the bags, and wiped-down the containers with our alcohol mix, but how do we know the inside of the plastic containers were clean and untouched? We can’t. One chain – Papa John’s Pizza – has now started advertising that no one touches the pizza when it comes out of the oven, and then a seal is placed on the box to let you know no one opened the box after that point (see below.) Well, that’s concerning for a couple of reasons. Had people been touching the pizza before this crisis? Also, how do we know the inside of the box has gone untouched before the pizza went into it? I think we’re going to have to stay with home cooking for the foreseeable future.
· In what has become a series of words I never in my wildest imagination thought I’d ever place together, the collaboration service Zoom has been deemed Kosher for Passover by rabbinical scholars. This is no small decision for a religious sect that bans the use of electricity on holidays. I mention this one just in case you still don’t think this crisis is unprecedented. At an industry dinner about a month ago, the non-profit industry association I’m on the board of (The IMCCA) presented Zoom’s founder and CEO, Eric Yuan, with an award. He couldn’t make the event in person so we presented it to him using Zoom’s video service. During his acceptance (which you can watch here) he joked that he needed to work on a method to be able to accept physical things like awards over the service. That’s definitely something we could use right about now.
· In my last point on food for this week, I assume you’ve heard the expression “Freshman 10” or “Freshman 15” referring to the weight a new college student typically puts on in their first year. One of my friends commented that with all the hoarding and staying close to the home kitchen, this virus is aptly named Covid 19.
· I blatantly stole (borrowed?) the image below from a friend in the UK who posted it on Twitter, and then I posted it on Facebook. It has become my most widely circulated Facebook post ever, with over five hundred people – most of whom I don’t know – reposting it. All I can say is I wish I would have bought that Flowbee haircutting system when I did my panic buying a few weeks ago as it’s now in limited supply…..that, and I’m actually one of those people who do own both the Red Album and the Blue Album. Honestly, after re-watching this video of the Beatles singing “I Gotta Wash My Hands”, I have to admit that’s not how I remember the song going.
As always please feel free to write to me with comments or items I should add to a future Not Traveling blog (or if you just need someone to write to.) Stay safe, be well, hug those you’re sheltering with (but no one else) and do your best to stay positive. We’re going to be in this for a long while. IMHO anybody who thinks this will only be going on for a couple of weeks isn’t paying attention.
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.
All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.