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dfp-pat-smith-remoting[2].jpg Pat Smith
Working phones and email not as much fun as in-person interviews, but we're adapting to conditions.

Social distancing is hard for a people person

I am a social person. I like people, enjoy chatting with them, listening to their stories and boring them with mine.

Anyone who has known me for more than five minutes understands that I might have issues with social distancing.

I am a social person. I like people, enjoy chatting with them, listening to their stories and boring them with mine. Pat says I'll stop and talk to anyone. She's probably right. I strike up conversations with strangers in elevators, check-out lines at stores, and anywhere else I might bump into someone.

Not doing much bumping these days. Pat and I are sheltered in place. We are among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus, so my daughter, a nurse, suggested several weeks ago that we should limit social interaction. That was before state and federal officials recommended social distancing.

I have ventured out few times since the last week in February. I came home from the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show with a case of the flu, which rendered me mostly useless for a week. The following week, we began to hear warnings about the virus, so we limited social activities. Our church cancelled services. Schools closed. Officials cancelled spring track season and the spring band concert, activities our older grandsons are missing.

The youngest, Walker, remains engaged in Educare, but not in regular kindergarten classes. As a precaution — for us and him — we visit by FaceTime. We caught the older boys outside one day and chatted from a safe distance. I miss all three of them. I worry about my daughter and son-in-law, both health professionals.

Cut off from society

These are peculiar times. Nothing in my almost 71 years comes close to the sense of being cut off from society. But, had this occurred when I was a teenager, my world would have been infinitely smaller. We lived in the country. Nearest neighbors were more than 100 yards distant. Social media was 50 years in the future. If schools and churches closed, social activity stopped; isolation would have been tangible.

Yesterday, we had Sunday school via Zoom and a worship service on Facebook. We visited with our daughter and Walker by FaceTime. I texted with grandsons Aaron and Hunter and my son in Texas. It's not ideal, but it's good for now.

I miss on-farm visits, the most enjoyable part of my job for the past four decades. I have no way of estimating how many farms I've visited over the last 40 years, but it's a lot. Most of those visits came with a notebook full of information, a good story and a new friend.

For now, I'm using the phone and email to check on how folks are coping with the virus. I hope you are all safe. If you have a moment, call or send me an email and let me know how you're doing.

Meanwhile, I'll be here with the one person I'd pick to be stranded with.

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