My COVID-19 Diary: Adversity reveals character?

James Lane Allen famously stated. “Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.” 

This aphorism, for most people, brings to mind extraordinary actions during a crisis by remarkable individuals. We think of Winston Churchill, Harriet Tubman, Neil Armstrong… Louis Armstrong.  

This expression cuts both ways however. Much as we hate to admit it, this quarantine is highlighting some of our most annoying character traits.  What are you doing to drive your quarantine friends and family a little bit kooky during this challenging time? Here’s some of mine*:

I save used paper towels and also grocery store rubber bands. See previous post.  This one’s coming in a little bit handy because sometimes paper towels are at a premium at Costco.  And about Costco, I find it difficult to walk out of there without buying a pair of khaki shorts. I don’t need another pair but there’s so many.  And then I complain to my wife that I’m wearing the same shorts as every other guy, “That’s because you buy all your shorts at Costco, Don!” (#DadMove)

I sleep with a bite guard. That’s got to be annoying. But it works. I used to grind my teeth and wake up many times during the night. Now I sleep through the night but I have the most vivid, and boring dreams:  I have to sign the timesheets, the timesheets haven’t been signed and Ben (the boss) calls to remind me to sign the timesheets, I ask, “Are they late, am I in a lot of trouble because I didn’t sign the timesheets?”   Ben says, “Nah, take your time. Whenever you get to it.” Everything is so real and vivid (like the display TV’s, in Costco [hmmmm]). This goes on and on until it’s time for me to wake up. I should be signing those timesheets,  nobody seems to care if I do, but they keep reminding me anyway. In one dream, I forgot my speech for graduation and when I got to the podium and admitted this, the parents said don’t worry about it, we’ll reschedule the ceremony for next week. I don’t know why this bite guard makes me have these dreams but it’s kind of nice.

I use voice to text. Constantly. My family can never tell if I am using it to send a text, an email, writing a memo,  a letter, a blog post, or complaining to them about the parking lot at school.  

I have peculiar fascinations with obscure topics: the Dutch settlement of New York State, anything having to do with bicycles, aioli, broccoli rabe, Rob Delaney, Sufi poets, magic.  Any whiff of conversation concerning these matters and my ears perk up. I will work diligently to not so subtly bring every conversation around to one of these issues.

If I see an actor on TV or in a movie, I feel compelled to supply arcane knowledge of that actor’s IMDb.  My specialty is “people the actor is related to”:  “his aunt was Rosemary Clooney; his dad was Hoss in Bonanza; that’s John Carradine’s son” (he had so many sons).  If I can’t summon from memory the “other thing that person was in”… I am impossible to live with until I can find it on Google, which can often take all afternoon.  (Related to this, I am intolerable during Jeopardy. Yes, I always shout out the answer in the form of a question. But, as my wife retorts when my daughter notes, “Daddy is smart”; “No Juliet, he’s just been on the Earth so much longer than we have.”) 

I’m indifferent to dogs.  I don’t dislike them. I’m just not as into dogs as everyone else is.  We have a dog, Luna. She’s ok.  

This reflection has been beneficial to me. I have no intention of changing any of this, I’m sure that I can’t.  I’m certainly not giving up the bite guard, I’d have to sign the timesheets. Perhaps if my family reads it, it’ll make them feel better that I’ve acknowledged my “annoyingness”.  It’s something, right?  

How about you… what are you doing to make this quarantine more difficult for those around you?  I REALLY need to know! 


* As you may imagine, I had help from my wife and kids with this post. They had an even longer list but I know you’re busy. 


About dfgately

Middle School Principal Jericho, NY
This entry was posted in Best Practice, Leadership, Parenting, Personal Best, Random Thoughts, Reflections, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to My COVID-19 Diary: Adversity reveals character?

  1. Matt Gately says:

    Curious how many people are more familiar and might attribute that to Cotton McKnight.

    • dfgately says:

      Love the Dodgeball reference !

      I did the flimsiest Google search and jumped on the first entry…. I’m open to ideas

      If I hadn’t that extra cup of coffee I was gonna be lazy and cite Shakespeare ………….

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