Resetting for a New Normal

Nancy Olumekor

May 20, 2020

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(This article first appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

Each of us can look back over our life to see how the world has fundamentally changed several times following specific traumatic events. Early in the 21st century, it was not acceptable for government to encroach on our personal privacy or impose boundaries. However, in the aftermath of September 11, we adapted to government surveillance in the name of “safety and security” at public and private events. We accepted technology that permits our voices and circumstances to be heard and seen throughout the country, quickly and permanently recording almost our every move. The catch word for the “new normal” then became see something, say something.

Today, because of the COVID-19 crisis, it appears that we are again at that point of a new normal – “physical distancing.” In order to function as normally as possible, technology is being promoted even more in almost every aspect of our lives. We are forced to adapt to going “cashless” for routine transactions; using the internet for virtual visits with our doctors; virtual business meetings and remote workplaces. There is still a serious digital divide, with many seniors – who are the most at risk of dying from the virus – on the wrong side. As seniors, we must continue to stay connected with technology in order to stay safe.

Stay Safe, Stay Connected!

There are many ways to communicate; we can keep the old ways and try new ways. During the period of self-quarantine, for many of us our telephones are our connections to others. We also write letters, note cards and send greeting cards. When we cannot visit the post office, we order stamps by mail. Those seniors with “smart” cell phones use them as a full-range communication tool – by voice, visually with FaceTime or other video chatting applications, and writing with text. In addition, seniors who are tech-savvy use numerous social media tools – applications that can be used on computers or cell phones with internet service.

Our cell phones, internet service and writing paper are resources that we can use to stay in touch with everyone, including our elected officials – our local mayors and governors; our members of Congress, as well as to our APWU family. Retiree chapters and local unions are using Zoom, Skype, FaceTime and other teleconference tools for meetings. Our churches and houses of worship are using the same technologies. If you are not sure how to use all of this technology, remember that help is just a telephone call away. Reach out to your families, especially your children and grandchildren, for assistance. When family is not available, use our network of friends and our community, and contact your local office on aging.

The Heroes Among Us

We salute all medical personal and workers who are rightfully being applauded as the heroes in this crisis. However, there are also unsung heroes among us – the store clerks, the sanitation workers, truck drivers and us – all USPS employees. Postal workers are essential employees in this “new normal.”

Retirees must shout as loudly as we can to Congress: “Do not let the USPS fail! Provide the funding needed to replace revenue lost from COVID-19 and attach no strings to money borrowed. Do not allow this pandemic to destroy the USPS – a true national treasure and a vital part of America’s response and eventual recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic."

Vote by mail is essential in 2020. Starting in your primary elections, if you have the ability to vote by mail, do so to protect the integrity of your voice. Senior voices will only be listened to when we vote.

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