Covid’s Unintended Consequences: What we learned (or didn’t) from the pandemic

Covid’s Unintended Consequences: What we learned (or didn’t) from the pandemic

We are hearing that the US is on the cusp of a full recovery from Covid. It’s back to business, school, and life.  There are tons of posts on LinkedIn about the “new normal” and “how to navigate (fill in the blank).”  It’s good that these articles are published because we humans have very short memories.

Personally, I just want to remember some of the unintended consequences we experienced.

We’ve all experienced unintended consequences in some way, shape, or form. They may be the best way to learn important lessons. Covid produced more than a few.

Buying toilet paper – or any paper product. We’ll never look at it the same way again. The anticipation and anxiety caused by the faint possibility of a toilet paper shortage will be the subject of studies by future anthropologists. Never mind not squeezing the Charmin: Hug it. Hard. You’ll never take it for granted again!

Used cars sold like crazy. They’re still selling like crazy.  The rental car companies are buying them by the dozen.  Maybe they’re the same cars they sold off over the past 18 months?  It makes sense: people who relied on mass transit pre-pandemic needed new ways to get around safely. Others wanted to “upgrade” a recently purchased used car, so car stereos sold like it was the 80’s.

Of course, no manufacturer was prepared to add capacity. No one could have anticipated a static category going crazy – but who’s willing to bet that it will continue? Good news for any big box store selling car stereos, I guess! I wonder if retailers went rummaging through the warehouse looking for old stereo units keep the shelves stocked.

Everybody was home and a lot of us were cooking, baking sourdough bread, and eating. A lot.  Yes, yeast was hard to find, but so were major appliances like dishwashers, refrigerators, and especially freezers. Demand completely outstripped supply. The appliance business could typically have a 60-to-90-day supply. Now it’s negative by 90 days. You can’t just increase the production of major appliances. (There’s that whole supply chain thing, which has had more than its fair share of problems, thanks to the pandemic.) Once again, good for the sales folks at appliance stores. Not only were we cooking and eating more, but we couldn’t drop off our leftover food in the office kitchen.

We sweat to shed the Covid weight. Eating all that banana bread and TikTok pasta inevitably leads to weight gain. And with gyms closed for the better part of 16 months, it makes sense that so many people started exercising at home. We ordered dumbbells and weights like they were toilet paper. (Shout out to all the delivery people who had to deliver boxes of iron!) Can you imagine all the FedEx, UPS and USPS people have been delivering heavy metal plates for us to lift and throw around at home for a few months – before we stop excising until the cicadas return in another 17 years?  Beyond dumbbells we ordered treadmills and rowing machines and spin bikes like there was no tomorrow. Even bicycles and bike parts became valuable as canary diamonds – and bike thefts spiked as a consequence.

Most people have read the stories about animal shelters being emptied of animals, and that’s wonderful. Please keep those pets! Vets are so busy it’s hard to get appointments. Many aren’t even accepting new patients! And its’ not just veterinarians. Other medical professionals have seen patient loads explode. Orthopedic surgeons saw far fewer kids with sports injuries, but they’ve seen far more adults who took up biking, golf, running, yoga, weightlifting, and other fitness programs in and around their homes.  Many are considering mobile units at parks to save us adults the trouble of making an appointment.

What unintended consequences of the pandemic have you noticed? Will you ever wear pants with buttons and zippers again? Have Zoom filters replaced your makeup bag?

If you’d like to share them, we would love to read them. …and if the issue is related to an unwanted asset, we’ll buy it!

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