The Superior Express -

Editor's Notebook

 


Here at the newspaper office we continue to struggle trying to find the best way to cope with the current pandemic. Now I would like talk with and obtain advice from those who went through the Spanish Flu Pandemic but I have blown the opportunity to do so.

My grandparents talked about that pandemic but I remember little of what they said.

In the early days of the current pandemic the two women who work in the Nelson newspaper office decided to close their office and work from home. Their plan appears to be working. We transferred the telephone number to Superior and posted their contact information on the Nelson office door. They regularly collect items left in the drop box and occasionally meet with someone who needs personal contact.

The Mankato office is still open. With only one person now assigned to that office, we are fielding calls about never finding the office open. When and how many hours should it be open? It is hard to justify assigning more people when one recent morning not a single person visited or called the office.

Here in Superior we have tried several things.

While trying to maintain the suggested six-foot separation between people, we placed a small table in front of our front counter hoping to extend the separation between customers and employees. Didn’t seem to be effective as many customers walk around the table to speak directly to one of us.

In previous issues of this newspaper, we have asked our customers to use the after hours drop slot when bringing written messages or payments and save having to come into the office where we could more easily trade germs. The drop box slot isn’t new. It was added to the newspaper in 1975.

This week I had a customer come into the office, turn his back to the counter and was looking at the door we open to clean out the drop box. I asked if I could be of assistance and I was told, “I’m here to pay my bill but how do I put it in the drop box?” I explained the slot was on the outside of the building.

The last two Saturday mornings I have been in the office as usual but didn’t unlock the front door. I was ready to open the door if anyone asked to come in but no one did. I just worked quietly as my desk.

Tuesday morning, for the first time we left our front door locked and posted a sign asking customers to either telephone or knock on the window for service. Like Bagley’s Burger Barn, we have a front window that easily opens and I thought it might be a good way to serve our customers and reduce the chance for spreading germs. As these entries are being made, not a single customer has tried our “serving” window. We have had several stand outside and use their cell phones to call us.

Knowing what they want has been a challenge. For example, out office supply department stocks about two dozen envelopes. One customer stood outside and called asking for a large envelope. It took several tries and a call to a third party before we found a size that suited.

The transaction reminded me of two deaf customers we used to have. I knew and worked with them for years. When they came into the office, they didn’t want anyone but me to wait on them. And that was probably good for I had learned their code. For example, one customer regularly came in asking for hearing aids. A hearing aid was a specially made scratch pad on which written messages were exchanged. When that customer showed me a piece of paper with the two words “hearing aids” written on it I knew exactly how many and what size of pad to prepare.

Rita’s been studying and trying to make masks. Our dining room table is covered with several designs that don’t work. Some designs which we couldn’t reproduce may have worked. Some that we were able to reproduce did not work. We have masks that fog our glasses, flatten our ears, steam our glasses and break sewing machine needles but none that we like or are willing to wear.

Yesterday, we tried to wear bandanas over our mouth and nose. We found them hot, uncomfortable and hard to keep in place. But I thought they were worthwhile for they helped to remind me not to touch my face with my hands.

I can hardly exist without touching my face, Now that we are being told to not touch our faces, I seem to have a 24/7 desire to scratch my eyes, nose and face. I can still reach my eyes but when I touch the bandana mask I sometimes remember to stop.

When the crisis first arrived here, I was tempted to take a picture of the clerk who wearing a mask on her forehead.

Rita and I decided the bandana mask was a good idea and were certain we had a box full of large bandanas left from a screen printing project completed about 25 years ago. We may have once had extra bandanas but after searching high and low we have not found them.

Monday I wore a blue bandana that when tied behind my neck would cover my mouth and nose. Tuesday I wanted to wear a clean one and took a red one from my bedroom dresser drawer. I expected bandanas were all the same size. Wrong. The one I saved for Tuesday is so small I can put it over my mouth but not my nose.

On Monday three of use came to work with bandanas covering our faces. A co-worker said we looked like Old-West bandits and suggested she take our pictures for a front page wanted poster.

Noting the book we have for sale about the Ghost Gang which robbed a Superior bank in 1934, one of the bandana wearers said if she needs to look for a new job, her bandana mask was so uncomfortable she doesn’t plan to become a robber.

Members of the Ghost Gang had been involved in bootlegging but when the Volstead act legalized the sale of liquor, they had to find a new vocation and so they took up bank robbery. Relax, you need not worry about The Express crew becoming bank robbers. We find the masks uncomfortable.

 

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