It's the little things

Things About Houston We Actually Miss During the COVID-19 Lockdown

Staying home to mitigate the coronavirus outbreak, and we even miss the traffic.

By Craig Hlavaty March 25, 2020

The 'Stros are just one of the things we're missing as we ride out the pandemic. 

Fellow Houstonians, we just completed our first week of COVID-19-induced delirium and dread and now we’re wading through week two. Take a deep breath. In, out. April 3 is our goal now.

Many of us are working from home, while others are bravely manning emergency rooms, keeping the city safe. Some are teaching their children, while others are making sure we have full shelves of supplies. Everyone is doing their part to end this (hopefully) temporary cessation of social life in the city.

While we don’t know when life will return to something resembling normal, we do know that by and large we’re all doing what we’ve been bred in Houston to do—adapt and overcome. Just think, someday our descendants will marvel at our will for enduring such scary moments in modern history. “Y’all were still getting back on your feet from Hurricane Harvey when a global pandemic hit?” they’ll marvel. We’ll just laugh it off as no big deal, but in our hearts we’ll know that this underscored what we’ve always known about ourselves: Houstonians are stronger than we ever imagined.

But still, there are a few things about humdrum daily living here that we have found ourselves missing lately. Believe it or not, there is some magic in the day-to-day misery of regular life in the Bayou City, pre-pandemic. All of the local businesses. The fact that while you and your neighbors might normally never speak, you both know you can rely on each other when the next crisis rolls into town. (Remember to support your small businesses any way that you can. Reach out to your neighbors, folks, especially the elderly who might need some extra help.)

Personally, despite the recent scandal, I keep thinking about that first “Play ball!” call at Minute Maid Park that’s going to eventually happen later this year and the roar of the crowd right after. It’s okay to cry thinking about it. Join the “crying guy” club. And there’s more:

Traffic, yes, horrid, hellish Houston traffic.

It occurred to me not barely a week into working from home that I hadn’t honked at anyone in anger lately. I hadn’t felt the vicious tingle in my arms that Houston traffic adds to each day. When I have ventured out, I’ve encountered calm, safe drivers prone to nodding and waving. Did it really take a worldwide pandemic to make this happen? Don’t worry, we’re sure the road rage will be back in no time, and, somehow, we’ll even be relieved to feel it.

Sports, both the misery and the triumph.

We’d give anything to hear a live call of an Astros or Rockets game right now. We’d even love to hear our favorite sports radio guys ripping into Harden and Westbrook. For now, we will just have to make do with old games on YouTube. Who’s up for a World Series 2017 re-watch?

Barhopping and dining out with friends

While we’re currently sheltering #AloneTogether in our home headquarters, we’re still missing the cacophony of communal imbibing in the flesh. We may be Zoom-ing and Facetiming our friends and family, but we have to say we miss seeing their ugly mugs sitting next to us. We miss our favorite service industry peeps too, and we can’t wait to stuff your tip jars in person.

The copious amounts of toilet paper and wipes that used to be at the grocery store.

“Time was a Houstonian could walk into any grocery store, Walmart, or Target and buy themselves a few rolls of toilet paper. Kids, they had all kinds of TP, from soft and sturdy to aloe-laden and colored. Some of us even bought the organic TP just for grins. My my, what a time it was.”

Work. Yes, work.

While many of us with cushy computer-driven jobs are learning that we could have been working from home this whole time, some of us actually long for office camaraderie and shenanigans. Casual Friday is now every damn day and we’re sick of it. Where’s our cubicle mate’s homemade fudge brownies? The random break-room donuts? The intrigue over who borrowed the good stapler? If you'd told us a month ago we'd soon be craving all that, we'd have laughed and laughed, but here we are missing the office coffee, the office gossip, all of it. And that's even though we know that as soon as it's safe for things to get back to normal, all the things that annoyed us about the office—about all of this really—will come flooding back too. And you know, we're even looking forward to that.  

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