If I hear one more person mention “the new normal,” I’m going to punch a monkey. If we ever do stabilize to a new normal, it won’t happen for a long, long time. As best I can tell, right now, we’re all pretty much just winging it. Nothing feels like anything approaching any sort of normalcy.
In California where I live, a few businesses were able to reopen, including my dog groomer. So early last week, I took my dogs in for a self-service wash. I’ve been going to the El Cajon Dog Wash for maybe a dozen years, so I was certain this would help me feel normal. I can’t really call wearing a mask the whole time, not being able to wear a rubber apron, and not being able to shake hands with Chris (the owner) normal. On the bright side, my dogs don’t stink now and it was good to see an important (to me) local business reopen.
I was really excited when they announced barbers could open. After 2+ months of sheltering in place, I looked like I should be pushing a grocery cart down the street. Time to visit HD Cut ‘n’ Shave and feel normal, right? Wrong again. I never thought I’d need to have my temperature taken upon arrival at the barbershop. The weirdest thing, however, is that barbers are currently only allowed to cut some of your hair. Specifically, they can’t cut your facial hair, but can cut all the other hair on your head. That means no shave, which is generally the best part of a haircut.
My family’s favorite restaurant, Souplantation, already announced that it’s never reopening. Ever. So I was relieved to hear that Bonny’s Café, our favorite breakfast joint, had reopened. When I got there this morning, I had to go through the back door, which is now the designated entrance; when I left, I went through the front door, a.k.a., the designated exit. Inside, the counter (where I usually sit) was off limits. And apparently they’re not allowed to hand you a bottle of hot sauce. I requested Tabasco Chipotle and my server put some in a couple of disposable cups for me.
There’s been plenty of talk over the past couple of months about the need to really support small, local businesses once they’re able to reopen. As self-serving as it was, I’m happy I was able to do my part this week. I only hope this doesn’t turn out to be just lip service. Communities do need their local businesses just like they need their local credit unions.
In the coming weeks and months, a lot of people (myself included) will be talking about the need to upgrade and refine technology to truly meet the needs of the modern consumer. But even as important as technology is, credit unions also need to get back to the basics and remember why they’re here in the first place.
There will always be people who shop at Walmart because the 200-roll mega pack of toilet paper is 25 cents cheaper, bank at Chase (for example) because their commercials are better, and will pass 10 locally owned restaurants to hit the McDonald’s drive-through. If that’s you, I’m sorry I’ve wasted your time. You’re not credit union people.
My message to both credit unions and citizens is simple: Start supporting your local businesses like the future of your community depends on their success – because it does. And credit unions, please remember, too, that it’s not enough to just be present in the local community and economy; you must be engaged with the local community and economy.