10 Skills I’ve Acquired (or Improved Upon) During This Pandemic

I’ve been pondering the new skillsets I’ve acquired in the past two months. Here, in no particular order, I present them:

1. Hitting buttons/doors with elbows

To be clear, I’ve been a pro at hitting just about any sharp edge or hard surface with my elbows for years. However, that’s generally been accidental — and painful. But, in these times of germ warfare, and though I’ve been washing my hands frequently and avoiding touching my face as much a possible, I’ve met a point to utilize the ol’ elbows as my substitute door-openers and elevator-button pushers, rather than my index fingers. (Note: Some buttons simply won’t accommodate elbow, so I’ve occasionally resorted to a knuckle in a pinch — followed as soon as practicable by a thorough handwashing.)

2. Using the wallet on my phone

I’d used the “tap” feature on my debit card a time or two previously but hadn’t really become acquainted with the touchless benefits of the Wallet app — which comes in handy while checking out at the grocery store. It cuts down on the need to touch the frequently-handled card-swiper. (Yes, I realize this likely raises some data security issues but right now, I do appreciate not having to directly contact these germ repositories.)

3. Disinfecting my phone

Speaking of germ repositories — I’ve become much more vigilant regarding regularly disinfecting my phone, seeing as it’s sitting in my hands roughly 50% of the day. (Okay — the waking day. “Screen Time” is telling me I averaged 9 hours, 1 minute a day with my eyes locked on it this past week. In other news, I need to develop some non-phone-related hobbies.)  The trick here is timing. If you wash your hands, then go to disinfect the phone, you risk re-infecting your freshly-scrubbed paws. If you disinfect the phone but are still handling it before washing your hands, you may be re-infecting the phone with your germy hands. Chicken — egg? If you really want to stay on top of things, you have to wash the hands, disinfect the phone, then re-wash the hands. OR…you can try the wrap-the-phone-in-disinfectant-wipe method, where you wipe it down while very carefully avoiding actually touching it. I’m not going to say I’ve mastered this — but I’ve at least discovered it.

4. Zooming with a fun background

Truth be told, I’d never even used Zoom prior to Pandemia. I’ve since enjoyed it both for work and play. I’ve “attended” a court case management conference with it, several happy hours, and just yesterday — a wedding reception! (Happy Wedding, Zwireckis!) It’s a nifty little way to socialize while distancing. The first thing I learned about it was that you want to make sure you set it up with a cool (and not bland or worse — embarrassing — background). I do appreciate the app gives you a way of inserting a stock or photo-of-your-choice background but find the wonkiness of the picture unless you’re parked in front of a green screen annoying. I’ve found a comfortable spot in my abode for zooming — at the dining room table, with my decorative sunflowers over my left shoulder and decorative mirror centered above my head. (If I lean just-so, it looks like I’m sporting a crown.)

5. Navigating stores/the office while making the least amount of contact with anything

Along the lines of the elbow and wallet usage mentioned above, I’ve become quite adept at moving about within a commercial space while minimizing contact with other people and inanimate objects. At the store, I’ve learned the Six-Foot-Two-Step, where you use your cart and some hit spin moves to maintain the recommended distance between you and your fellow shoppers. At the office (which I’ve largely avoided but still must visit about once a week), rather than take the shortcut from my corner to the kitchen or copy room, I now walk the “long way” around, which affords me the luxury of not having to touch any doors. Added bonus: more steps!

6. Making masks fashionable

I’ll be the first to admit I’m no fashion plate. And I wasn’t a quick adopter of the mask-wearing — it’s an odd thing to get used to (while studiously avoiding the face-touching), particularly when you wear glasses and actually like to be able to see with them on. However, I did discover that a running headband I have is actually quite serviceable as a cloth face mask. And once I realized that, I ordered a couple more with fun corona-related sayings/designs. Though it took a couple of weeks for them to arrive, I now sport them when I venture out to the store and office — and usually, get compliments on them.

7. Smiling with my eyes

I can’t swear I don’t have RBF (Resting B**** Face), especially since I’ve entered the post-50 era of my life, but it’s my nature to smile at people as I pass them — be it at the store, or while out for a walk. One of the negative by-products of the mask-wearing is that it covers your smile. So, most everyone looks more serious and, potentially, intent on robbery. That is why when I do make eye contact while masked, I make a point to scrunch up my nose and add a smile to my eyes. (Which probably looks like I have an itch or am about to sneeze.) Anyhoo, I try.

8. Traveling light

As much as I’ve been guilty of being a purse hoarder in days gone by, I rarely carry a purse anymore. (This pre-dates the ‘Rona.) I do, however, have a phone case/wallet that houses not just my phone, but my cash, essential credit/debit cards, insurance cards, and license. It also has a place to hook the key fob for my car. So, I can usually travel with just that wallet and be good. Except, I found that I was forever worrying about disinfecting it and everything in it every time I ventured out into potentially virus-rich environments. Now, I’ve begun traveling even lighter: House key (singular) in front pocket, car key hooked on belt loop, debit card and license in back pocket, phone in other back pocket. This suffices for almost any errand I need run and significantly cuts down on the number of items I need to worry about disinfecting post-errand. Caveat: remove phone and cards from back pockets before using the restroom (if you will be sitting while doing so).

9. Walking even when it’s rainy/chilly

I’ve written previously about the enjoyment I’ve gotten out of going on daily walks since all this started. Not only is it helping me combat the calories I’m ingesting (not that I’ve been over-chowing, but being cooped up and only being able to go to the grocery store or get take-out from restaurants stacks the odds against slimming down), but it’s been amazingly helpful for me mentally — my anxiety level hasn’t spiked all that often and I’ve only battled insomnia one or two nights during all of this. So much so that when the weather has been gross, I get cranky/antsy at the thought of not being able to take my walk. (I’m like a dog now, really.) Thus, other than one or two particularly nasty cold days, I’ve still ventured out for my stroll. Even yesterday, when it was in the upper 40’s and raining (softly, but steadily), out I went. Got in a solid 1.64 miles at a brisk 17:49 minutes-per-mile pace. That, in turn, helped me get over 10,000 steps for the day and feel like I’d accomplished something. Just a lesson that it’s not incumbent on Mother Nature to grace us with a lovely sunny-and-70’s day just so we can get out and stretch the legs. (Although, I certainly do appreciate it when she does.)

10. Changing up my location on the couch

I’m only half-joking about this one. As much as I’ve been walking and occasionally venturing out from the abode, there’s been a LOT of couch-TV time, too. My couch is relatively new (got it around the end of September), but it occurred to me that always sitting on the one end of it would likely result in unequal wear on that end. Of course, it’s possible to rotate the cushions. But I’ve also made a point to set myself in the middle — and even on the far end — at times. Hey, it’s not a bad thing to change your perspective every now and then, right?

Hope you’ve enjoyed this list. What new skills have you picked up (or improved) of late? Let me know in the Comments!

by Susie Moore

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