We are in uncharted territory in these COVID-19 times, but can still learn from the past.
The last World Pandemic we had was the Spanish Flu in 1918. So, I thought I would interview my two grandfathers who were born in the 1890s and lived through this. What can we learn from their experiences?
My paternal grandfather, M. E. Sheehan, essentially invented the gig economy. He did taxes, sold insurance, managed real estate, was a Justice of the Peace and Notary, and more.
My Mom’s dad, Dr. Victor C. Thompson, was a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine.
Grandpa & Grandad, thanks for agreeing to the interview. Please help us learn from your experiences with the Spanish Flu. Grandad Thompson, let’s start with you, from a doctor’s perspective – what did you learn that we should keep in mind.
When the Spanish Flu hit, a local newspaper reporter stopped by my office and asked what I thought people should do to limit the spread of the disease. I thought for a moment and said:
First, people should wash their hands regularly and thoroughly. I thought that sounded good.
Next, I thought, people should cough into their elbow.
And then probably keep a good distance from others – maybe six feet.
Wow, that’s great advice Grandad. I’ll make sure others hear about that.
Grandpa Sheehan, lots of people are teleworking now. Any advice for people about that?
Sure, Rob, well – beyond having a strong Internet connection – here are some things that worked well for us in the early 1900s:
Separate work from home activities. I had a separate office in the house. The office is for work. Stay there when you are working and focus. But take breaks now and then and get out of the office. I liked to take a walk around town regularly.
Get in a work mind set. I dressed for work every day – shined my shoes and put on a tie – even though I was in my home office. No pajamas.
Don’t multi-task. If you are in a WebEx or Zoom meeting, pay attention to that and don’t get distracted with other windows you have open on your computer.
Practicing Mindfulness can be very helpful to cope with the alone time and I also found that investing in a good headset was worthwhile for web meetings.
Again, sage advice, Grandpa. I will share that around. Anything else?
Yes, one more thing, keep your sense of humor.
Will do! Thanks to you both!