Gary Tetz

I consider it an ominous omen. Yesterday on my walk, I was attacked by a crow — three times. Or it might have been a raven. I can’t tell the difference.

On the scale of challenges long-term care people face every day, this perhaps seems insignificant. But it might have been a message to all of us. 

It’s not like I was out in the wilderness. It was a well-traveled street near my workplace, lined with trees. I strolled obliviously in the breeze, thinking about important things like what I’d write for McKnight’s and why COVID-19 hates bald men

The first sign of trouble was the sudden sound of beating wings screaming mere inches from my ear and a fierce gust of wind on my neck. It took a moment to process what had occurred, and initially I thought it was all in my head. Then I realized it was all at my head. 

Being a brave and undaunted Canadian, I continued my walk, and twice more was dive-bombed from nearby trees. The last time, I actually ducked and shielded my face. By then I’d had enough and turned around, but he still stalked and yelled at me, swooping from tree to tree. Those ominous eyes and flashing beak are now permanently seared into my consciousness. 

Once things quieted down and I was able to examine his possible motivations, it hit me—the whole time, a face mask had been swinging uselessly from my fingertips, and he was probably just trying to tell me to put it on. “Caw, Caw, you thoughtless, cavalier, selfish human,” he said. “Caw, caw.”

It’s no surprise that he castigated me, rather than frontline long-term care facility staff, because that would have been preaching to the choir. Most adhere to guidelines religiously in a state of elevated hyper-alertness, at work and at home, even though the level of vigilance required in an effort to keep them, their families, coworkers and residents safe has to be exhausting. 

They carry an all-too-sobering awareness that in a community with rampant coronavirus spread, they could easily take it back to work with them. So they diligently practice all the precepts of infection control, even as too many in the world around them remain thoughtlessly non-compliant. The job of trying to shield and defend those they love and to whom they provide care offers no respite.  

Our facility staff richly deserve our praise and thanks. But what they really need most is for that angry crow to gather his friends and family and swoop menacingly at everyone not wearing a mask. Because this is simply how things are now, and society-wide commitment is the only way we can hope to protect our residents and patients — and each other. Not just for now, but to some degree, probably forever.

When can we relax? When will life return to the level of blissful nonchalance we once enjoyed?

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a two-time national Silver Medalist and three-time regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program, as well as an Award of Excellence honoree in the recent APEX 2020 Awards. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a writer and video producer for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.