The bar for customer service has been lowered so far over the past year that even the most basic human courtesies seem as though delivered on the wings of angels. When this pandemic ends, the tiniest civilities will mean much more, creating opportunities for long-term care staff and facilities wishing to stand apart.

This got my attention twice recently. I used to complain if a restaurant waiter didn’t take my order within the first 10 minutes. But in this time of plummeting expectations, I was grateful beyond belief when a delivery driver dropped cold food wrapped in soggy cardboard on my doorstep within an hour.

Then I needed to return a pair of poorly-chosen trousers to my local Nordstrom. Dreading this excursion into the cold, distanced world of COVID-19-era commerce, I stepped up to the counter and plunked down the pants.

“Gary, right?” said the sales professional, and I almost fainted dead away. 

I’d been there only once before to buy them, was wearing a mask, and am certainly not the only bearded bald guy she’s seen lately. This would have been an incredible feat of memory in the best of times, but she accomplished it effortlessly — needlessly even, since I didn’t remotely expect it. 

In a post-pandemic world, those trivial acts of courtesy and connection will be huge.  

So as you deal with new visitation rules and ongoing vaccination programs, plan also to get reacquainted with the basics of human connection.

Remember what it was like to make real eye contact without a layer of plastic between, to interpret facial expressions and tone of voice, to hold a hand and administer a well-timed hug. 

When family members start streaming back through your doors, and especially when and if the masks come off, be ready to be the first to stand out from the wasteland of human interaction we’ve all been living through.