Al Alborn

Al Alborn

I’ve carried a money clip for most of my life.  It’s an easier way to keep cash handy.  Every evening, I put my wallet, keys and cash in a dish on my dresser.  

I noticed recently the cash in that clip was really wrinkled.  It was worn out from time in my pocket.  A year ago, money never stayed in that clip for very long.  COVID-19 has changed this little detail in my life.  The world has gone mostly cashless. Plastic money – credit and debit cards – is now the preferred exchange medium to reduce the chances of passing the virus.  This made me think about the many other changes that define the “new normal” in the COVID-19 world.

My son-in-law and daughter often visit for Christmas.   This year, we enjoyed a Skype holiday together.  I’ll admit it takes away the simple pleasure of having them lounge around the house relaxing and chatting, but a Skype Christmas wasn’t that bad.  I suspect there were a lot of Skype Christmases this year. 

I also see a lot more of the folks who deliver for UPS, USPS, Fedex, and Amazon.  I try to support local businesses; however, the risk of exposure to COVID-19 makes online shopping an attractive alternative.  When I do the math on time, travel and risk, ordering online makes sense.

I’m going out less and cooking more these days.  Thanks to Pitkin’s ACE Hardware, I am now the proud owner of a Weber kettle grill and am exploring the gourmet possibilities of the many flavors of charcoal they offer.  So far, the sugar maple charcoal is the best.  The Thanksgiving turkey I did on the Weber came out perfect

Unfortunately, I wasn’t as lucky with the sausage gravy recipe I tried.  I spend a lot more time on the web these days.  That’s where I found the recipe for sausage gravy.  It really is easy: sausage, flour, milk and some Pillsbury biscuits.  We keep our cooking essentials in a matched set of canisters.  For the record, powdered sugar looks like flour.  The former is not a good substitute for the latter.  I believe there ought to be a law mandating those canisters be labeled!

It’s no secret I’m addicted to coffee.  Changes to the local Starbucks caused me to experience a BOFOTO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious).  Indoor seating is no longer available.  They now only offer coffee to go.  I realized I wasn’t actually going to Starbucks for the coffee. I was buying coffee to “rent a table space” to write.  I’m brewing my own coffee and writing at home these days.

I pondered the many other changes, big and small, I have adapted to self-quarantining, social distancing, avoiding crowds, etc.  They add up to significant changes to my daily routine and my life.  Since I’m not alone, they also change our society and have economic consequences.  I’m on the road less.  I’m using less gas and have fewer maintenance expenses. I’m shopping less.  All of these changes when scaled affect the folks who plan the roads, sell the gas, stock the shelves, manage the cash registers, and support the supply chain that delivers everything.  Public policy appears to be written in the context of the past.  It’s time to take a breath, slow down everything, and notice how the future is unfolding. 

I stopped carrying my money clip.  I miss the theater of pulling it out now and then to peel off a couple of bills.  I’m not sure what 2021 will look like.  I am sure it will be very different from 2019, and reflect the adaptations the world made in 2020.

I truly hope 2021 will be a happy new year. 

Al Alborn is a political and social activist in Prince William County. His column appears every other week.  You can learn more about Al at

(1) comment


Weber Grills are nice, but i would suggest that people look at the Old Smokey grills, they are the grill of choice in Texas and has been around for almost 100 years. Much cheaper then a Weber too.

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