The Times They Are A’changin’

COVID-19 has already changed lives radically, but it remains to be seen how much change we’ll see long-term, but some change seems inevitable because it’s happened before.  Its easy to see why people say “bless you” when someone sneezes.

Will table cloths make a comeback in restaurants? The way it has worked is that everyone eats with silverware or plasticware laid on a bare table that is wiped by the same rag for the whole place. Hard to think of a more-effective way to spread germs. Personally, I wouldn’t mind a small surcharge for a fresh tablecloth. What would it cost to launder one? Surely under a dollar. I see a role for government in doing this across the industry.

Will handshakes disappear or make a comeback?

The on-line dating industry will surely have to make adjustments, but just how I’m not sure. (Not my bag.)

Will business travel disappear? The mantra has always been that business is more efficiently done face-to-face, but I never liked business travel when I was in aerospace. I had enough family separation for a lifetime in the Navy.

Will theater disappear? Those are big crowds.  Or might theaters be redesigned to be more spacious, and consequently more exclusive and expensive?

Will general health improve? Restaurant portions are usually unrealistically large. I read today that there is a glut of butter on the market because restaurants were using a lot more of it than people do in their kitchens! (Mashed potatoes have a lot of it!)

I predict that self-checkout stations like those at Walmart will proliferate to other merchants.

Will movie-houses go under? Watching at home is so much better that I don’t understand why they are still operating. At the theater you can’t adjust the volume, you can’t pause the flick, and you have to sit in a usually-dirty area above a sticky floor and amid noisy people. And, you can’t bypass the previews.

The final death-knell of the town mall?

Will gyms and the YMCA’s weather this?

The toilet paper industry will adjust to a different level of production for the two main types, the nice soft stuff for homes and the slick, narrow stuff found in workplaces and restaurants. (Turns out the scarcity was not mostly due to hoarding but to people dining out less.)

About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Democratic.
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9 Responses to The Times They Are A’changin’

  1. Really? The empty shelves where toilet tissue and paper towels usually sit are a side-effect of people staying home? That’s an interesting thought – I had not heard that.
    And your observation about restaurants wiping the tables – of course I hadn’t thought of that either, but I really do prefer going to restaurants that use table cloths. One of our favirite restaurants, until maybe a year ago, always had white table clothes. They stopped, and I missed it. — It’s good to see you here again.


  2. PiedType says:

    Interesting to speculate how life may change when this is over. I’ve heard the thing about more toilet paper being sold because families aren’t spending most of their time at offices and schools. Total demand is the same, but it would account for more of the at-home type TP being sold.

    I haven’t been to a nice restaurant in years so didn’t know some have given up white tablecloths. I don’t think that can be justified, given what they charge. Tablecloths are part of what elevates them above fast food.

    I think for the most part people and businesses will return to pre-covid habits, although I, having finally tried grocery delivery, may very well stick with that for much of my shopping.

    A lot may depend simply on how long this thing lasts. If it lasts long enough that new ways of doing things become entrenched, then we may not return to our old ways. It will be interesting to see.


    • Jim Wheeler says:

      At least in Joplin, I can’t think of a single restaurant that still has table cloths, and I’m pretty sure we have tried them all. Joplin has about 60,000 population, but it swells to about 200,000 during the day from surrounding areas. Or, it used to.


  3. Jim R says:

    You raise a lot of good questions. It will be interesting to see the answers evolve.

    On our train ride back from Santa Fe in mid-March the tables in the dining car had layers of paper on them serving as quick change table cloths.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. aFrankAngle says:

    Great list of questions. For a virus to be claimed to be contained and would pass through like the wind with less than 100 cases, the Coronavirus has impressed me. As for as the toilet paper, I would disagree because of the following: 1) people are hoarding and 2) commercial TP and domestic TP are produced from different machines because of the differences in the pulp. (just read something about this on AP service today.)

    Stay safe!


  5. shimoniac says:

    Locally most grocery stores have self-checkout lanes. They’re generally intended for people with a handbasket of items. I’ve seen people with overflowing carts trying to scan and check out.


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