March 16, 2020, the phrase “little did they know” takes on new meaning.
By Claire Zybert
It’s been a year.  And what a year it’s been! On Feb 25, 2020, David and I along with a number of RCS club members attended the Mardi Gras fundraiser for the Rotary Club of Reno.  For the next two weeks we were busy with final preparations for a kitchen remodel that we had been planning for a few months.
March 16, 2020, the phrase “little did they know” takes on new meaning.  In the soundtrack of my life, there is ominous music playing while we greet our contractor (Peter) and his crew and they cover the floor with ram board.  At the end of the day, Peter hands me the sledge hammer and I prepare to demo the wall that divides our kitchen from our living room. 
That wall, we are sure, had to have been built there for a purpose. It isn’t a load bearing wall.  Maybe it is there to hide the stack of dishes in the kitchen sink?  Maybe it is there to give some privacy to the person who is trying to get food out to family and guests? Maybe it is only there to hold the wall-mounted telephone that was the focal point of the home.  We have been living with the wall for a year and a half and have not once entertained the thought of mounting any of our communication devices on the wall!  I consider it a dividing wall that prevents me from seeing the people I am trying to talk to.  It has a note taped to it reading “The Wall That Offends!”
Oh, the irony!  David and I take turns with the sledge hammer and within an hour, only the studs and a few wires remain.  The ominous music has faded to the press conference by Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve “ordering temporary mandatory closures of bars, nightclubs, gyms and restaurants (except takeout/delivery/drive through and pick up services) in the city until April 5 unless extended.”  We move in slow motion and come to a reality check.  Without our kitchen, we had been planning on going to some restaurants in town that we hadn’t gotten to try out yet and maybe meeting up with friends that we hadn’t gotten to see in a while.  None of this was going to happen.
The onset of COVID-19 brought on the necessity of building walls – not the kind that offends, but the kind that protects.  We wear masks; we stand behind plexiglass partitions; we are not allowed inside certain buildings.  All of these are intended to keep us safe from a harmful disease.  The pendulum swings from one extreme to another.  We had become careless in our social interactions leading to terrible flu seasons in the recent years.  Now, we are staying home, mostly communicating on Zoom or by email and as a result, this writer believes that we are losing the beauty of personal interaction. 
I am encouraged by the recent news from Governor Sisolak: “If the state’s COVID-19 infections continue to decline and hospitals maintain capacity to handle cases, restaurants and bars can expand capacity to 50 percent on March 15.” As long as COVID-19 numbers remain low, he says he will turn over authority to expand openings to counties on May 1.  That means that our Rotary club will be able to have in-person club meetings!
We have had a year to learn valuable lessons – especially about caring for ourselves and others.  As Rotarians and community leaders, let’s help our colleagues, friends, and neighbors to transition to a health-conscious AND kindhearted environment.  As we make plans to start meeting together in-person, each one of us needs to consider how we can contribute to unifying our society once again.  Are you ready to get your hands dirty?