Greg Schwem

The now infamous Quarantine of 2020 never had an official start date. Unlike Dec. 25, July 4, Feb. 14 and other calendar days synonymous with celebratory events, the world didn’t simultaneously lock its doors on one particular day and fire up Netflix.

Was it March 16? March 27? Did you hold out until early April before realizing that, because your favorite sports team was canceling its season and your beloved restaurant was locking its doors, maybe you should take this Anthony Fauci guy seriously?

For me, the quarantine began the day my wife returned from Costco, presented me with a 45-ounce container of Dunkin Donuts Medium Roast Original Blend coffee and said, “That ought to hold you.”

Her shopping run also contained the items Americans were grabbing as if the doors to a Brink’s truck had just flung open at 65 miles per hour, scattering $100 bills on the interstate. Toilet paper, sanitizing wipes and gargantuan containers of condiments vied for space inside her SUV. Should an asteroid smash into our home anytime soon, what’s left of my body will be coated in salsa.

How much Costco coffee is too much?

The label on the Dunkin Donuts java monstrosity stated I should be able to brew 150 cups. As someone who limits his caffeine intake to one cup of coffee per day, and occasionally skips the beverage altogether in favor of tea or water, I calculated that I should be set for five months.

“Where will I be in five months?” I remember asking myself as I opened the container and scooped the first grounds into my office coffee maker. Surely, I’ll be traveling again, spending nights in myriad hotels as I’ve been doing for the last 25 years due to my profession as a corporate comedian and keynote speaker. With so much time away from my home office, it might be upward of a year before I needed to replenish my coffee supply, I estimated.

Yesterday, while preparing my lone cup, the coffee measuring scoop touched plastic. That’s right, I was approaching the bottom. And, as the coffee brewed, I realized how little had changed from the day I opened the container.

Costco has replaced hotels

There have been no plane trips or hotel stays. The only change to my morning routine was that I replaced the coffee maker’s charcoal filter after about the 60th cup. Five months after the country shut down, give or take a week, our routines have become so singular that we struggle to remember what they were like pre-pandemic.

Many of us can’t remember the last time we packed a suitcase. Bellied up to a bar. Visited a hair salon. Went to our closet and picked out a suit and tie or a cocktail dress. Hell, I can’t remember the last time I wore pants. Chalk that up to an inordinately warm Chicago summer and the fact that Zoom meetings and Skype video chats only require me to look presentable from the shoulders up.

And yet, I now consistently remember tasks that slipped my mind pre-quarantine. Watering flowers for instance. In previous summers, I would sometimes arrive home to dried up geraniums, as I erroneously assumed they could tough it out for 48 or 72 hours. Not so this year. Each day, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. they receive a drenching and have never looked better.

I walk the dog more, change the bed sheets more often and scrub my bathroom sink more frequently. I cook more, exercise more and watch more television.

Were COVID-19 to be eradicated from the earth tomorrow, I wonder how much of my new routine would remain. Would I return to neglecting the dog and the flowers? Or would I figure out some way to merge my pre- and post-pandemic lives?

Like the rest of the world, I am anxiously awaiting that day. In the meantime, I had better replenish my coffee supply.

Being an optimist, I’m going to stay away from Costco.

Greg Schwem’s comedic take on the 21st century workplace and work/life balance has landed him on SIRIUS RadioFOX News, Comedy Central,pages of Parents Magazine, and as a Keynote Speaker for many business audiences. More than just a business humorist, Greg is also an author and nationally syndicated humor columnist. Whether Onstage or Online: Book Greg Schwem today:

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