[OT] Changes

I got to wondering what’s going to be permanently changed when all this is over…

I have a feeling that having the supermarket deliver groceries rather than shopping in person will become, if not the primary way people shop, then it least a common alternative. I personally had never tried it before; but over the last couple of weeks have done so three times. And I can imagine how convenient it will feel when they’re not out of two-thirds of what I want.

“Oh, and add a couple packages of toilet paper to the order, if you please.”

Telecommuting in many companies will become more common, of course. “The office can’t function unless everybody’s physically in the office” won’t hold water, because  of course we see it is functioning.

And really, it’s a win-win: companies will need to rent less office space, commuting time will be cut, gas consumption and gas emissions will be cut…

Well, I guess not a win for the people who own office buildings.

Movie studios might look into releasing more films directly to streaming. Not big films like Star Wars XVII: More Things Blow Up, but maybe the films aimed at grown-ups, the ones starring Judi Dench.

I’m not saying all these changes would be good: this might be the first step toward us becoming the sedentary lumps from Wall-E


(which ironically would play in theatres)

The point is, all these things are proving they can work on a far larger scale than before, and are becoming accepted as a new normal.

Any thoughts?


  1. It might accelerate a few trends, but I don’t know that it’s going to start any new trends or stop any others in their tracks.

  2. The changes that I both hope for and expect to come from this (to a large extent self-inflicted) crisis are mostly political in nature, and therefore cannot be discussed in this forum. However, perhaps I could be allowed to express the hope that people will finally realize that health care, as a fundamental human right, should not be exploited as a profit-making corporate enterprise. There are better ways to run things.

  3. Not sure how it will effect me. I can’t telecommute and I do not believe that most of our management can either.

    I’m currently working the same 5 and 1/4 days a week (46 hours) as before. Though they are talking about dropping normal plant days to around 4 days due to slowing of orders. Which means I’ll most likely be working 5 days. (40 hours) Sounds like there is a chance we will get Easter week off instead of just the weekend. For those curious, I’m a electronics tech and do PMs on machines that can’t otherwise be down during the regular week on the weekend.

    Gas usage will only go down about 80 miles per week, if I do not get called into work to help with a machine break down.

    The only food I have had trouble getting is bread. I got lucky and already had a couple of 6 pack toilet paper at home.
    I am not married and not a big cooker so frozen vegetables, some meat, soup, and drive thru food once or twice a week.

    I have not gone to a movie theater in ages.

  4. I’m retired, so not that much has changed in our house, other than not being able to visit with friends. Phone use is up, but we’re not big on skype and the like. We haven’t used grocery delivery at all. The trip to the grocery store is sometimes the high point of the day, I’m afraid. Never got into the restaurant delivery either. The Wall-E scenario is one possibility, and another is the world imagined in the old Isaac Asimov books, like, Caves of Steel.

  5. Ever notice how much less tolerant people are of each other on the internet than they are in person? People seem more cordial and friendly in person. Office environments, even if they can function in a “work from home” situation, are probably better off with people actually face to face and interacting. Additionally, as an engineer, I can’t tell you the number of problems I’ve solved or worked through with other engineers just by staring at a common white board where we can both point and draw.
    There is more to office work than just the work. I think the social aspects of a successful office will long keep that environment around.

  6. I don’t see myself using grocery store delivery services. I like being able to select my own loaf of bread, based on the fact that I’m going to eat it, and while the smashed up one might be easier for the store employee to reach, it isn’t the one I want.

  7. I’ve seen some speculation that the observation that most of the people who are considered “essential, must go to work” are hourly workers who are often minimum wage or not much more than that may encourage people to realize that a general strike could actually paralyze things and lead to more collective bargaining and workers’ rights things.

    I suspect this is wildly over-optimistic by the people suggesting it, but I do wonder if SOMETHING will change by people realizing that, with some exceptions like doctors and the like, most of the people they really NEED don’t make a lot of money, and most of the people who make a lot of money, they don’t really need…

  8. For my office, having everyone working from home is functioning, but it’s not functioning as well as having people in an office. And I work for a tech company, which is close to the ideal environment for having everyone working from home. And as TedD points out, there’s also social aspects that are important for a functioning office.

  9. Maybe I’M being over-optomistic, ianosmond, but I’d like to think there’ll be a groundswell for an increased minimum wage law.

    If not, we all suck.

  10. In my first three orders, beckoningchasm, the only issue has been one bad lemon. And that’s in a very strong seller’s market.

    That said, I’m sure some supermarkets WON’T give your items the care it deserves.

    But THAT said, I’ve been to the supermarket and picked out a lovely load of bread only to have the checkout girl bag it under a sack of potatoes. So swings and roundabouts.

  11. I’m skeptical that this will lead to any general re-evalution of which jobs are important in our society. (Maybe an increase in minimum wage, but if so, only because that was already trending anyway.) It’s always been obvious that we really need grocery stores and schools, and that web designers and baseball stars are optional. Wages and general job treatment are set by supply and demand, and supply and demand favors baseball stars over teachers, regardless of what you think about their intrinsinc importance. A general strike could indeed paralyze things, but there are strong forces stopping unions and workers’ rights, and I don’t see that changing. Because, we do, indeed, su–.

    The economic changes would require political changes, which I’m skeptical about; as Kilby says, further elaboration would lead into topics not allowed here.

  12. I hope cinemas don’t go west – I (almost) never watch a movie on the TV screen. 20 years ago I lived opposite a Blockbuster video store and used it only once or twice, and the only film I remember getting (Monty Python and the Holy Grail) I had already seen. I made 31 cinema visits last year.

    I have never tried ordering groceries online and don’t particularly want to – I prefer to pick and choose. This is especially true of fresh fruit and veg and bread, but I prefer to browse a real shop for other more packaged stuff – tins and cereals and biscuits and coffee so on – than fiddle through an online menu. You see more in real life.

    As well the “day out” aspect of even going to a single supermarket, the one I use most frequently is a Tesco in Wells, and less than half a mile from it is Wells Cathedral, so it is good to wander up the High Street and pop into various other shops and coffee places and then stand in front of the cathedral, or look at the swans in the moat round the Bishop’s Palace. Obviously you do some of the visual stuff on the internet, but it is not the same. And of course I am pretty lucky to have a mediaeval cathedral on my doorstep.

    And I think it would result in an increase in Wall-Esity.

  13. Here are a couple of apt thoughts I’ve seen on the WWW:

    “I guess we’re about to find out which meetings could’ve been
    emails after all…”

    “Got a letter that says I’m an essential employee, and a paycheck
    that says I’m not.”

    I expect more work from home and a short-term increase in grocery delivery.

    I also expect a short but big surge in restaurant meals when the lockdowns are over.

  14. People who shower before work have a good probability of being able to telecommute, but people who shower after work have jobs that physically can’t be done from home.

  15. Arthur – “I also expect a short but big surge in restaurant meals when the lockdowns are over.”

    I expect a surge in car crashes! Loads of people will not have driven much for some weeks or months.

    And if it all goes on for three months all around the world, no passenger plane will be allowed to take off due to the recency regulations!

    As PIC (pilot in command) or co-pilot – “In the preceding 90 days, you must have completed at least 3 take-offs, approaches and landings in an aircraft of the same type or class or a full flight simulator (FFS) representing that type or class.”

    As you can see, you can get the recency requirement back by doing flights in simulators. But there aren’t all THAT many simulators… most professional career pilots maintain recency by flying recently. I expect during the lockdown pilots are simulating, but you can’t do it too early or you’ll still be un-recent if this goes on for 4-5 months. Though by then there will be few airlines and ticket prices will be £20,000 minimum and little need for pilots.

    That’s the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority but it is pretty standard.

  16. Around here there is a fee for the convenience of grocery shopping by proxy. Some of us can’t afford the extra $$$$

  17. marmitaj: Air traffic isn’t going to return to normal in a single day. Presumably it will slowly ramp up again, which will give time for staged requalification of groups of pilots.

  18. “I expect a surge in car crashes! Loads of people will not have driven much for some weeks or months.”

    Good point. But will it be a net excess of crashes when we take into account the many fewer crashes during the lockdowns? “Rush hour” traffic around here looks more like 10 a.m. on a Saturday.

  19. The handshake should probably disappear. Even in normal times it’s an unnecessary source of germs. Namaste.

    Open salad bars and buffets? Even more suspect than before.

    Communion wine out of a single cup? Dipping your hands in holy water as you enter church? Why?

    I’m not sure commercial real estate will be a growth industry for a long time. We have too much bring and mortar retail. This will show us we have too much office space; there will be lots more hotelling of offices (you share an office, or find an open one).

  20. Maybe fewer school shootings.

    I’m serious. News reports about mass shootings encourage more mass shootings. I don’t think anybody doubts that. But maybe having schools closed for so long will break that cycle.

  21. I’m trying to remember what might have changed after the 9/11 attacks.

    Didn’t friends use to say “Safe home” when parting? I seem to recall that phrase being popular in the aftermath, but it seems to have fallen into obscurity. A quick web search brought up no appropriate results.

    So what lasting cultural effect has that disaster had on generations of people?

  22. “So what lasting cultural effect has that disaster had on generations of people?”

    I was going to give an honest answer to that, but decided that I’d rather this site stay mostly apolitical.

  23. Grawlix, what changed is that you can’t get onto a plane without an insane amount of security. Or even enter a theatre with going through a metal detector or more.

    My kids grew up in what my generation would have thought of as a police state.

  24. “You can’t get onto a plane without an insane amount of security.” You misspelled “nearly worthless theater that only creates a lot more hassle.”

  25. Yes, I think recency/ currency rules for pilots are pretty standard internationally.

    @Arthur – “But will it be a net excess of crashes when we take into account the many fewer crashes during the lockdowns?”

    No possibly not. But it might be – apparently in the UK at least some people are taking advantage of the quieter roads to do a spot more speeding.

    “Motorists are exploiting quieter than usual roads to drive at “highly excessive speeds”, police have warned.
    “As well as speeding, officers have also reported seeing more drivers committing offences including mobile phone use, drink or drug-driving and not wearing a seatbelt.”


  26. A couple of months ago when we were going to a Broadway show (back when there were Broadway shows), we had with us a suitcase on wheels, because my wife was headed to the train station immediately afterward. I was also carrying a backpack, as I often do when we’re in the city.

    The theatre security person searched the suitcase (which we were going to check), but forgot about the backpack that I was going to be carrying in.

  27. “The handshake should probably disappear.”

    I’m afraid it won’t, but I’d be very happy if it did.

  28. zbicyclist – As 18th c reenactors – shaking hands by colonists and back in Europe was not done – men bowed and ladies curtsied – the short version while walking down a street being a nod of the head with for men, a hand to his hat. Never thought about how much more sanitary it was.

    Per Bill Barker/ Thomas Jefferson down at Colonial Williamsburgh when a visitor offers his/her hand to him in greeting – it a a custom of the natives to shake hands (the idea being that if one shakes right hands – there is no weapon in it).

    Perhaps we need to bring the old custom.

  29. We are big movie theater goers – we go just about weekly, in the past we might go more than once a week if there were several movies we wanted to see – now the theater we go to only has a late night (meaning 9:30-10:30 start for it) on Saturday nights. Our record is 8 movies over 4 days mid week – there was a Robert Altman festival. One of the things that brought us together was shared love of old movies – our first date was a midnight movie showing of “The Godfather” – Robert pretended to translate the Italian for me. (On our final visit to my family home while it was being emptied out Robert spent some time looking through my dad’s collection of books of 1920s/30s movie actors/actresses bios to see if there were any he wanted to add to our collection – I on the other hand was going through accounting office supplies.)

    Almost all movies are made for big screens – they are not the same on small screens. Details are lost from the change in size of what one is seeing. Pan and scan change the movie and letter boxing makes the picture even smaller. Heads get cut off and sides of the picture are missing with some adaptations for TV.

    Of course in addition to going to the movies we watch them at home on TV – right now we each found “The Strawberry Blonde” on TCM – I had it on it here in the kitchen and when I went for the laundry basket – he did too. But to actually see a “movie” as it was intended to be – we go to the movies. We own movies on Beta, VHS and DVD – and when we had the bed bugs and had to move all of the VHS and Beta tapes out to the shed sealed in plastic bags (tapes could not take the heat treatment to be done) we regretfully had to make a rule that if we had a movie on DVD, the VHS version went, if we had it on VHS, the Beta version went – with certain exceptions such as James Bond movies. (I bought him our first Beta machine as an engagement gift.)

    The weekend before the isolate in place here in NYS we thought about going to the movies for one last time before it kicked in. We go to an independent theater and they posted on their website that they were adding more time between showings and would be sanitizing the theaters between showings – especially seats and hand rest -and also cleaning the bathrooms and food counters between showings. In addition at the late movie showings as a general rule the theaters are rather empty – many Saturday nights it is a private showing for us – other weeks there are up to 4 other couples in the theater with us, of course the week they showed “The Irishman” the theater was just about full.). We decided that it was not worth one more date night movie.

  30. We had come to a point where we were basically buying dinner for one night or two at a time – so we needed to food shop. About 3 weeks ago (my sense of time over this type of period is shaky these days) as the problem with the virus was becoming obvious we went out to buy groceries to several different markets and there was little to buy.which put Robert into a panic. We did buy what I figured was enough food for a month and he worried would not cover 2 weeks. (Too late we came up the idea of a buying a turkey (not live) as when I make one for Thanksgiving we eat it over 2 weeks and then freeze the rest for later.)

    About a week later we went out again and he was able to see that food was back in the markets even if not the shelves were not full. By last week we had figured out what we had not bought and decided that we had to go out again – we picked Thursday as it was the second/last day of the week it would not rain. He was fine until Thursday morning and then panicked. I looked at the delivery service for the market chain we generally use and decided that the $10 delivery fee was worth it if made him feel better. We like to pick our own items – and avoid dented cans and smashed boxes so he said no. I suggested that since he had planned to go to a market 4 blocks from our house – we drive by and see how crowded it was. (Yes, there are senior hours – but we would have to stay up too late to be out at 6 or 7 am.) It was too crowded. He decided to check the Walmart Neighborhood market about 15 minutes from us – also too crowded. We had passed a larger store of the chain we use and the parking lot looked to have about the same number of cars as the one near us – but people spread over a large area of the larger store, so we went in. Despite having a shopping list he shopped panic style. We did not take a cart and I had two of the larger “reusable” plastic bags and three of the regular plastic bags and he shopped and put the items in the bags while I carried them – by panic shopping – I mean things like – he put the bread in a bag – and then dropped cans in the bag on them. Self- check out and I rebagged the items after he rang them up. He is figuring more than 2 weeks before we need to shop again

    We are being very conservative in what/how much we eat for meals. I cooked my beef vegetable soup for dinner twice already and each time we did not finish it as we normally would – he gets 3-4 lunches from it also this way.

    We just put a forward on our PO box to send the mail to our house. I am concerned about this as we had our mail to the go to box as we had delivery problems with our post office. (Box is at a different PO which is actually one of two nearer to us than the one our home mailed is delivered from.) We had been picking up the mail during this late Sunday night as we figured the fewest people had been in there since close of business Saturday than any other time.

    Plan is not to need to go out for at least two weeks – the longer the better. Well.maybe the house will finally be clean again as I am home to do it.

  31. Meant to mention – one big difference –
    Before last Sunday I had never heard of “Zoom” other than zooming around or the 1970s kids show. Since then I have heard it about almost constantly.

    I was contacted by someone from the region board of my embroidery chapter for our membership’s emails (which they should already have as I send it in when someone joins) as they are going to start a Zoom meeting/class for region members. I asked her what it is and she told me about it. (I told her one problem was that members would need a camera on their computers, this confused her as she said they did not – “How do you see each other if one or more does not have a camera?” – this question just confused her.)

    I asked Robert about it and he later happened to get an email from his sister that 9 year old niece has to do her school work with same – and SIL and niece are having a problem with it – can Robert help?

    Since then I hear about Zoom constantly. This emergency must be good for the company.

  32. Me too. ALSO Sunday! I had to ask my son to explain it to me and THAT didn’t make me feel old.

    And by Wednesday we were planning a virtual seder.

  33. I’ve seen some YouTube people who in past made videos together using Zoom. My brother mentioned it has a virtual family get-together.

  34. Bill – for some years I have a made a seder for Robert and me, well for me – I am the father, mother, youngest child, and all of the “participants”. This year’s will be interesting. I am making a Brunswick stew with chicken and we will have half of it for Passover and the other half for Easter Sunday. I defrosted a piece of broccoli which will serve, cut in half, as the greens and as the bitter herb. I will break a piece of Matzoh into 3 piece to use as the 3 pieces of matzoh. (I became ill last Passover and have the two boxes I bought then – one had been opened for last year’s seder and Robert has been working his way through it by eating small pieces of it with soup. I will have part of a piece of Matzoh with my stew both times. He will have the last one of the can of refrigerated biscuits with his for Passover and then we have to decide if we will bake the other can of them or he will have plain bread or matzoh with his for Easter.

    It will be an odd seder.

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