OPINION: We're still here

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Billy Summerlin, Spruce Pine Police Chief

As everyone already knows, the Spruce Pine Police Department is what people like to call “essential.” I have discovered over the past couple of months what “essential” truly means.

I’ve also discovered the true length of six feet, how to practice social distancing, and exactly how I’m supposed to wash my hands. Oh, and this has to be my favorite: “We’re in this together.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to poke a tiger in the face with a stick, but I’ve watched the flu, aka coronavirus aka COVID-19 put the brakes on our nation. Again, I’m not downplaying this virus, but it has changed people in ways that almost sicken me. 

If you watch any TV whatsoever, you’ll see commercials praising essential workers. As far as praise for my department, thank you so much. We will be here for our community until the Lord calls us home. But, the real praise should go to the employees that ring up your groceries, as these are genuinely our frontline workers and the ones who are seeing people for who they truly are. 

I was told the other day about a grocery store clerk who was ringing up a man’s groceries, and the clerk told the customer there was a limit on how many cartons of eggs he could buy. Rather than complying with the change in the store’s policy, this fine citizen took the eggs and smashed them on the floor. 

In a separate incident at a different store, a customer was told she could buy only two loaves of bread. Her response was taking the bread and beating it on the counter until it looked like a Sunbeam winter wonderland.

And, please, don’t get me started about toilet paper.

I guess what I am trying to say is, be kind to each other. It is our responsibility as human beings to make sure our neighbors are taken care of, and you can’t go wrong by doing the right thing. Also, turn off the TV news and sit on your porch. The media tends to report the bad news only. I haven’t watched the news in almost a month. When this pandemic began, my preferred news station dedicated 23 minutes of a 30-minute broadcast to COVID-19. I told my wife if the woman giving the weather forecast starts talking about the virus, I’m turning it off. She has a tough time getting the weather right anyway, so what can she tell me about the virus?

Life goes on. Don’t let the virus rule and guide the rest of your life. Being afraid of something doesn’t make it go away. Let common sense guide you through this. I’m out in this day after day, and I’ve not gotten it yet. But, if I get it tomorrow, I’ll have to deal with it. I’m not going to sit around and wait for it to come and get me as if it’s some monster in the night. But, what I will do is wash my hands, stand six feet away, check on the elderly and try to be good to people.

Billy Summerlin is Spruce Pine police chief.