D.L. Stewart: Sometimes a slap in the face is a good thing

Some days I just need to slap myself in the face.

Last Monday was one of those days, a day that started off with me in a funk for all sorts of reasons.

— Our favorite Italian restaurant had just shut down because of the coronavirus.

— Squirrels had chewed away some of the weather stripping on the side of our condo to build a nest, the guy who promised to come out and repair it two months ago still hadn’t shown up and our attic was in danger of becoming a day care center for baby squirrels.

— Every day for nearly a week we’ve literally spent hours on the phone trying to get the cable company to correct the problems connected to the two new TVs we just bought; not only aren’t they working properly, they seem to have caused our old TV to stop working, too.

Then came the slap in the face when I sat down at the kitchen table, grumbling, to read The New York Times.

The lead column on its editorial page was about the prospect that millions of people who have lost their jobs also will face eviction from their homes while politicians dither and dicker about whether and how to help them. According to a Census Bureau survey, more than 20 percent of households say they don’t expect to be able to make their next monthly rent or mortgage payments. A woman named Renee Matthew, for instance, lost her job in March and was only able to keep paying her $929 rent with the help of unemployment benefits. But those ran out at the end of last month and now she gets just $232 a week in state benefits.

You do the math. I did, and it was the slap in the face I deserved.

Italian restaurant’s closed? We have plenty of boxes of pasta in our pantry, but all over America people are standing in line to receive food distributed by charitable organizations.

Weather stripping missing on the side of our residence? Renee Matthew’s next residence — like millions of other Americans’ — could be on the street

Three TVs not working? No one who has three TVs in his house has much room left for complaining.

For most of us, that column reminded me, this pandemic is an inconvenience. A disruption of our schedules. A denial of our pleasures.

And on that grumpy Monday morning, I remembered words I had typed up years ago and mounted in a frame on my office desk. It began, “I cried because I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet.”

It was more than an ancient aphorism. It was a well-deserved slap in the face.

Contact this columnist at dlstew_2000@yahoo.com.

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