Lessons learned


We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of our collective COVID-19 incarceration, and I thought it might be helpful to share a few things I’ve learned during quarantine.

For example, did you know that if you’re talking on the phone while wearing earbuds, you don’t have to yell? No kidding. Just go on and use your inside voice, and everyone who’s on the call will hear you.

I shared this tip last week on social media — or rather, our older dog, Franklin, did — and the ensuing threads across platforms made me think I may not be the only one going through this with someone in my home. If I were, and I’m not claiming that I am. Heavens, no.

However, I would like to add that it is fascinating to discover that a voice already described as hoarse becomes a whole new industrial grade of sandpaper after yelling its way through dozens of phone calls a day. Which would never happen in this house, no, sirree, no.

Speaking of things that have never happened here on the homestead, if your beloved takes respite in binge-watching old television shows, it is not necessary for you to pop in and immediately start asking questions about characters you’ve never met leading lives that will not interest you 90 seconds later.

“Yes, that’s Philip from ‘The Americans,’ except right now he’s not. He’s Kevin Walker.”

“No, that’s his brother.”

“No, not that one. That’s his husband, Scotty.”

“Yes, married. No, it was before the Obergefell decision, but they lived in Calif — wait, you’re leaving? Are you kidding me?”

So unnecessary.

And now, a word about dogs. I’m confident I am not the only one who has succumbed to coddling the canines.

Look, we have always loved our dogs — who rescued whom, and all that. But somewhere between Lent and Flag Day last year, they became accustomed to going out every 10 minutes because someone is always home to let them out. The Zoom screen comes alive, and they start to howl.

We have a fenced backyard. I’m sorry to have learned this past year that this is not always good news for squirrels who drop in for what they think is a quick nip of birdseed. My God. Some things you can’t unsee.

We’ve propped rakes along the perimeter and left up the sunflower stalks so that squirrels have multiple escape routes as we rattle the handle and bang on the windows every time before opening the door for our precious little beasts. So, that’s my helpful tip.

Here’s another: If you’re planning to join a violent insurrection in our nation’s Capitol, don’t take a break from the rioting to insult your ex by text.

As numerous news organizations are now reporting, based on court documents: On Jan. 6, after invading the Capitol, Richard Michetti from Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, sent photos and videos of the mob to his ex-girlfriend. He also sent her text messages echoing former President Donald Trump’s lies about election fraud.

By now, you may have seen his photo in the crowd from that day. He was dressed in a hoodie and White Sox baseball cap with a surgical mask wedged beneath his beard as he stood on the Capitol steps and checked his phone.

His eyes were still burning from the onslaught of “spray and teargas and paintballs,” he texted his ex-girlfriend, but he and his fellow rioters were right to “stop the vote it’s fraud this is our country.”

One senses she may have disagreed.

At some point, he texted this to her: “If you can’t see the election was stolen you’re a moron.”

What’s an ex-girlfriend to do?

Helloooo, FBI.

The next day, the alleged moron handed over to federal law enforcement a string of texts, photos and videos Michetti had sent her. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

So, you know. Don’t do that.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. She is the author of two non-fiction books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. She is also the author of The New York Times bestselling novel, “The Daughters of Erietown.” Email Connie Schultz at [email protected]

By Paul Wager