Because Together Still Matters

April 1, 2020

 

I’m not sure about you, but the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing, and supporting our own kiddos’ distance learning at home has been hard. It’s also very heavy stuff. Maybe that’s why it seems like there’s an underlying stress behind many of the things we’re doing throughout the day?

 

I wanted to share a story in the hopes it might bring us together or connect us in some way. Because being together still matters…even from a distance. (And I've found comfort in the stories, videos, and anecdotes many of you have shared these past few days.)

 

So here goes...

 

Our family got a new dishwasher several months ago. Ever since we started using it, my coffee has tasted soapy. (I realize soapy coffee may sound like a petty problem, and the only rebuttal I can offer is that this problem started before we were all facing a global pandemic.)

 

At first, I tried to ignore the soapy aftertaste hoping it was just me imagining things and not a problem with the new dishwasher. Obviously, ignoring the soap flavor did not make my coffee taste better. 

 

To make matters worse, the soapiness seemed to be getting stronger and stronger as the weeks went by. Those who know me well can attest to the fact that I really enjoy coffee -- and that I have a tendency to fixate on things until a solution is found. Let's just say I was dialed in on this problem and not afraid to ask our family's number one problem-solver for help.

 

My wife (who usually has fantastic judgment) didn’t think this coffee thing was such a big deal. In fact, she claimed she couldn’t even taste the soap. I also tend to have a pretty good sense of smell and a really refined palate, so I understood why I might be the only one to pinpoint the soapy aftertaste. (Disclaimer: I made up that last part about having a refined palate just to amuse myself -- because that’s what you do during a shelter-in-place scenario -- but the sense of smell part was spot on.)

 

Anyway, I tried double-rinsing my coffee mugs before using them whenever I thought of it. I figured I would scrub off any excess soap the dishwasher was leaving myself…without the added hassle of getting our new dishwasher replaced. 

 

Hand-washing my coffee cups seemed to help on some days, but other days it did not. This didn’t surprise me because I knew how concentrated dishwasher soap can be. The fact the soap was still clinging to my cup -- even after sporadic double rinsing -- was understandable. Still, I was feeling stuck. 

 

The difference between an amazing cup of coffee and one that tastes like concentrated dishwasher soap is significant, right? So, I wasn’t giving up. 

 

I’m a creature of habit and every day I used to wake up (pre-pandemic) and use the restroom, brush my teeth, put on some lip balm, grab a bowl of cereal, and read my devotional while my coffee brewed. I eventually committed to adding the extra cup-rinsing time to my routine every morning.

 

Like most people, my routine has gotten a little out of whack this week while working remotely…so much so that there have been days where I would go on Zoom-meeting marathons and work through the normal lunch hour. One day I even missed breakfast because work kind of consumed things.

 

Well, part of my routine getting out of whack recently also meant I skipped putting my lip balm on before breakfast. (I know, I know…these are crazy times.) But that’s when it hit me. 

 

As I was applying lip balm after having coffee I immediately recognized the distinct smell. 

 

My coffee had been fine all along. The dishwasher was fine. It was the lip balm I had been tasting the whole time. And it only took me 3-4 months to figure this out. 

 

I laughed so hard (at myself) at this realization. And my wife was graceful and worked really hard to filter when I told her the story. (She’s amazing.)

 

And that’s all I got. There’s probably a moral in this story somewhere, but that wasn’t really the point.

 

Stay safe friends…and stay connected to the things that still matter. Like a simple laugh, smile, and sharing stories together.

 

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Dr. Brad Gustafson is an elementary principal, author, and speaker. He believes schools can be spaces where creativity and innovation thrive, but only when we prioritize relationships and a relevant, connected pedagogy. 

 

Connect on email at:

AdjustingCourse@gmail.com

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