What kind of world do we want to come back into? 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY FG TRADE/GETTYIMAGES.CA
  • Photo by FG Trade/gettyimages.ca

At best, the last couple of weeks have been incredibly weird.

If you're one of the lucky ones, you're adjusting to working from home and trying to keep yourself from going stir-crazy without the regular distractions of live sports or red-carpet fashion analysis to pass the time. More likely, you're crunching the numbers, waiting with bated breath to hear what assistance government is planning to provide—whether it's sending a fleet of lifeboats or just tossing out a couple of pool noodles and calling it a day.

Moving from mostly sports to whatever athletic-adjacent stories I can rustle up and going heavy on hard, COVID-19 news has provided a jarring contrast. Reaching the normally busy athletes has never been easier, as I've had several responses directly saying "I have all the time in the world," while on the news side, the people I'm reaching have likely never been busier in their professional lives. You always strive to be prepared, knowledgeable and respectful of everyone's time, but these are certainly occasions where you're acutely aware that 30 seconds spent answering a dumb-ass question is time that could be better spent helping someone who's in desperate need.

With much of society slowed to a crawl if not shut completely, it's a useful time to individually and collectively figure out what we should bring back and what can be left to wilt when the pandemic is under control. Some aspects should return to "normal," absolutely, but this crisis has provided some insight into how awful the status quo is for many.

One thing that has been reinforced is how dedicated, hardworking and, most-importantly, brave our doctors, nurses and other medical staff are—and let's not forget other first responders, too. But some industries, including some that might not have been given another thought before, are being called to the front lines as well. Retail workers in supermarkets and pharmacies are stepping up right now in a big way, while drivers are ensuring that people and products that still need to get around can do so. Then there's the couriers and warehouse people making online deliveries happen so those who can't leave the house don't need to. If you're working from home, buy your IT person a beer the next time you see them (don't leave us, Karl—Pique's indispensible production manager!). That's just for a start.

If they come out the other side of this and collectively have wage or safety demands, let's rally around them the way they banded together for us in our time of need.

And if anyone tries to bust out the old and stale chestnut about how some of our service workers deserve what they get, that they should be grateful for any paycheque they get by virtue of being "unskilled," don't be shy to remind them of who showed up for risky work while they could comfortably hunker down in their own personal fortresses.

As much as we can, let's keep watch on which companies are doing well by their workers and working in the public trust. Of course, no organization is going to be unscathed, but when we see behemoths such as Amazon and Whole Foods owner Jeff Bezos, the world's richest person, encourage employees to share sick time among one another instead of providing it without question, let's not forget that when we're deciding where to allocate our tighter budgets. And any large company that receives a dime of public emergency money that could have gone directly to a citizen in need should be scrutinized to no end.

Let's continue to demand better from our governments, to support health care so that we're better prepared for when the next pandemic hits, to care for those whose life was a crisis before and will continue to be so afterwards. We must demand paid sick leave for all—its necessity has never been more clear—and better protections for those working in a gig economy. While we don't know what the marketplace is going to look like in the months to come, it wouldn't be surprising to see rebuilding juggernauts setting up to offer employees as few guarantees as possible.

Things are brutal for nearly everyone right now. But we're going to get through it together. Let's stay united once we're there.

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