Who do I see about a refund? When 2019 ended I was looking forward to 2020. It even sounded cool saying “twenty-twenty” after all those “twenty-teens” and the awkward “aughts” before them. But this is not what I expected or wanted. 2020 will be getting a scathing Yelp review from me!

January started 2020 out okay with nary an inkling of what was in store. Or so I thought. I’ve since heard that insidious events were beginning to unfold then in distant lands but I was never informed. So, I went my merry way expecting the best for this new decade. In the words of some forgotten sage, “Boy, was I wrong!”

The year started innocently enough with a trip to the Florida Keys and meeting up with some family members there. Little did I know that whilst enjoying tropical climes and cocktails, gleefully consuming fresh seafood and enjoying close contact with family and fellow revelers that sinister and malevolent storm clouds were gathering just beyond the horizon and would have a profound effect on my and, indeed, everyone’s life. And I’m not just talking about the upcoming elections.

Back home in these White Mountains and shaking the last of the beach sand from my shorts, rumors of a flu-like bug starting to spread in far off locales began to be mentioned, though just in passing, among the news platforms. A month later it was now a worsening issue but we were assured it was nothing to concern ourselves with. By the next month it’s a pandemic, we all lose our jobs, the robust economy slams to a halt and we have to avoid one another like the plague! (ironic analogy, what?)

This was not in the brochure!

I had only just retired and I had plans. Those plans didn’t include watching a nest egg teeter on the tenuous branches of an economy in free-fall nor avoiding family, friends and other human beings while hoarding toilet paper as if it were a precious metal.

Now travel, family visits, social interactions and living a carefree life take a back seat to new norms such as social distancing and sheltering in place. Not what I signed up for. Many others are worse off than I: kids lost entire school years, families are struggling financially, businesses face desperate times and the politicians bicker incessantly that only they and no one else can solve the problems.

We should all be asking for a refund!

And don’t get me started on the other maladies we’re facing like the entire Western U.S. being on fire, the South and East are facing record numbers of hurricanes and storms and then, murder hornets. Murder hornets? Really, 2020?

So now, adding insult to injury while we’re trying to adapt to this novel malady (and the hornets, of course) and striving to keep positive thoughts, we’re hit with even more miseries and degradations: election commercials. As if being on COVID house arrest for months on end with few diversions available isn’t pain enough, we’re subject to a near constant barrage of mud (family newspaper term, a more appropriate word begins with “s”) slinging over the television, radio and Internet. One ad claims the other candidate is vile, deceitful and will ruin our lives but 30 seconds later we’re told no, it’s actually the other contender who will ruin life as we know it, not them. They each approve of these messages, too. And in case you’ve misunderstood any of those claims, they are happy to repeat them several times every hour so you don’t get confused. I imagine if H.G. Wells’ Time Traveler had set his time machine’s dials to 2020, it would have taken him but a scant few minutes of observation to leap back onto his machine, re-set the dials, shift the levers into high gear and flee back to the future of the Morlocks and Elois, figuring that dynamic less bizarre than the situation in which we find ourselves here in 2020.

However, as the optimistic beings we generally are, we carry on and console ourselves with phrases like, “this, too, shall pass”, “the pendulum always swings back” and “what else could possibly go wrong?” I fervently hope and pray that last one never gets answered! Looking forward to 2021? Why not. I can’t imagine 2020 will ever be referred to as “the good ol’ days”, can you?

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