200317-yh-news-restaurants-4.jpg

Jeni Smith places a fresh pair of latex gloves on to package a takeout order Monday, March 16, 2020, at WaterFire Restaurant and Bar in Yakima, Wash. 

We have found ourselves, not by choice but by fate, cast in what is playing out like a real-life TV miniseries — and a bad one at that.

Our neighbor works at a local restaurant as a wait staffer, or maybe a cook. But the dining room is closed.

Our best friend works the checkout stand at the local supermarket, where customers have needlessly emptied the shelves of certain essentials.

A fellow parishioner is in the health care industry, perhaps as a nurse or receptionist; each day they must digest the latest news, and it’s seldom good.

Our own employment situation has taken a sharp turn as we struggle to deal with the stark realities of the COVID-19 outbreak. We no longer go to the office each day, instead working from home on an ancient PC or laptop. Our hours have been cut back — or maybe we’ve been laid off. Our children are home every day instead of heading off to school five mornings per week. And they bicker.

Tune in tomorrow for the next episode of “The Virus That Swallowed Yakima.”

But despite the many dark sides of life during the coronavirus era, we urge you, dear readers, to fight back and take what positive steps you can.

In many ways, yes, things are rotten. There are stronger adjectives that we could use, but we won’t. Generally speaking, human beings don’t care much for change even in the best of times.

And we really don’t like uncertainty. How long will this last? What else are we going to be asked to sacrifice? How will I pay my bills?

People are getting sick. Some are dying. Will I be OK?

No crystal ball can answer those questions. So … what do I do? What can I do?

First of all, we urge you to focus on a couple of very positive, very human traits that desperately need to be manifested in the coronavirus era: Compassion and empathy. Now more than ever, we need to see the world through our neighbor’s eyes, just as he or she needs to see it through ours. We are in this together.

More concretely, we can demonstrate our care with simple steps, starting with rule No. 1: Don’t be a jerk. No matter how frustrating it is to see those empty store shelves, no matter how much you miss your favorite coffee shop or restaurant, no matter how much you might think this is all just a big overreaction: Do. Not. Be. A. Jerk.

Let’s move on to rule No. 2: Every chance you get, say thank you and other words of encouragement to others, be they in health care, retail or some other line of work. They’re trying. They’re frustrated too. Make others feel appreciated and you’ll likely feel better yourself.

Rule No. 3 requires reaching into your pocketbook when and if you can, and we’ll use restaurants as the best example. Despite shuttered dining rooms, many eateries still offer meals via drive-thru and takeout. Often there’s also an opportunity to buy gift cards. If you know you’ll want to eat there when the coronavirus dust settles, buying a gift card now gives badly needed revenue to the restaurant or any other establishment. Local businesses are vital to any community and deserve our support whenever and however we can.

Our final point of concern focuses on those to whom COVID-19 poses the most risk. If you know any senior citizens who are isolated or have limited mobility or other restrictions, we urge you to check in with them on a regular basis and offer help (assuming you are healthy) — perhaps do their shopping. If nothing else, knock on the door or give them a phone call.

Nobody chose this. Nobody wished COVID-19 upon us. But it’s here, and we must handle things the best way we can — with patience, politeness, smiles and support.

Members of the Yakima Herald-Republic editorial board are Bob Crider and Bruce Drysdale.