Love of Home in the Time of COVID-19

10 minutes

This morning—as I do every morning—I took my dog, Fred, for a walk. It’s one of the ways I wake myself up each day. This morning, after 14 lb. Fred left a Labrador-sized nugget in the backyard, we set off up our street. I hadn’t brought poop bags, because Fred had essentially left her entire digestive tract next to the hydrangeas.

But a few steps into our journey, what does sweet little Fred do? She hops up in one of my neighbors’ yards and poops again. And not just any neighbor, oh no. It was the neighbor whose kids I’ve repeatedly gotten onto for letting their dog poop in my yard. So I was absolutely not going to leave this steaming little gift sitting there, just knowing—it’s just my luck—those kids were staring out the window at me, judging, learning a life lesson of the worst sort.

But I didn’t have any bags. I hadn’t expected to need them. Desperate, I pulled out my wallet and started rooting around, hoping for a stray receipt or a random piece of paper I could use to prove my non-hypocrisy. The only thing even remotely suited for the task was a stamp card from Full Circle Bookstore—the kind where, when you fill it up, you get $25 off your purchase. This was one was full. I might as well have contemplated using an actual $20 bill, but I didn’t have any of those either.

Oklahoma Today Editor-in-Chief Nathan Gunter and Fred the dog.

Oklahoma Today Editor-in-Chief Nathan Gunter and Fred the dog.

But in the words of Ursula the Sea Witch, life's full of tough choices, isn’t it? So I pulled the poor little stamp card out and cleaned up after my dumb dog. I spent the next two miles of our walk reminding Fred that she’d just cost me twenty-five bucks. Happily, ignorantly, she gamboled on.

At least, I thought, that’s $25 Full Circle Bookstore won’t have to give me on my next purchase. That’s some dollars they can just hold onto. I love that place. They deserve it. Look at me! I’m pumping money into the economy in this troubled time! I’M HELPING LOCAL BUSINESS!

But with updates about COVID-19 coming by the minute and the situation remaining uncertain, local businesses need far more help than my little act of poop policing can accomplish. So as you start on the new adventure of working from home, social distancing, and figuring out what to do with a year’s worth of toilet paper you decided to buy for some reason, how can you support local businesses?

I’m not speaking in the abstract here. Tourism is the state’s third-largest industry, and with the closures of bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and other public spaces—not to mention the myriad events cancellations we’ve seen—it’s an industry that’s going to be hurt. So what are a few things you can do if you are able?

Order Take-Out!

People who’ve never worked in restaurants may not know this, but the profit margins on them tend to be razor thin. A single week without customers can doom a place. How to support your favorite local restaurants when being around people is an exceptionally bad idea? Order take-out! Call your favorite locally owned place (Chili’s, McDonald’s, and all your other favorite chains are going to survive just fine. This is for the folks you go to church with.) and ask them what you can get to-go. They’ll cook it, package it, and let you pick it up. If your town has Postmates, someone can even go pick it up for you if you like. Contact minimized, local dollars maximized. Also: Fewer groceries to buy.

Memberships! Donations!

Oklahoma’s museums and cultural attractions are treasures. Think about all the wonderful memories you have from childhood of places like the Tulsa Zoo and Science Museum Oklahoma (f.k.a. The Omniplex). Have you been meaning to get a membership to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Woolaroc, the Philbrook, or the Oklahoma City Museum of Art? Do it now! Each of these spots offers excellent member benefits you’ll be able to use liberally once COVID-19 has seen itself out, and your support will mean the world to these organizations in the meantime. For myself, I just renewed my OKCMOA membership and added the Film and Moderns packages to it just for a little extra oomph. I’m joining Woolaroc for the first time when I get paid again. Another idea? We’ve just gotten word the Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts is postponed for this year. Do you have a favorite food stop there? Look up which organization it supports and make a donation. It’ll make a world of difference.

Gift Cards!

Oh man, do we love us some gift cards. Does your favorite local restaurant offer gift certificates? Is there a store you love so much that the thought of it going out of business makes your stomach hurt? Buy gift certificates for the people in your life! Call them up—you don’t even have to get out of the house—and have them send it to you or someone you love. That puts money in their pockets right now, when they need it the most. I’m planning on buying loads of gift cards to Chirps & Cheers and DNA Galleries in Oklahoma City, Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios on 66 in Tulsa, the Felt Bird in Enid, and Hooked on Books in Weatherford, to name a few. (Also, shameless plug, but an Oklahoma Today gift subscription is a great surprise present for the recently home-bound person in your life).

Follow Directions!

Americans hate this advice. It’s such terrible news to a society that prides itself on its individualistic spirit. But seriously, as someone with an eighty-five-year-old father whose life would be seriously endangered by contracting COVID-19, I beg you to follow the guidelines of the CDC and state and local government. Stay out of public places as best you can to avoid carrying the virus to someone like my Dad via proxy.

Obviously, all of these bits of advice are predicated upon the idea that you’ve been able to keep working. If you haven’t, please just make sure to take care of yourself and do what you can to get through this time. Despite the nonstop attacks of bad news, my sense of hope has never been higher—neither has my sense of pride in my fellow humans as we try to help each other out. We’ll get through this—likely with a very changed world—and there will be daylight on the other side. In the meantime, if you can spare some dollars to help out your fellow Oklahomans who aren’t sure their businesses, their life’s work, can survive, do what you can. It’s all any of us can do.

Written By
Nathan Gunter

Nate is an enthusiastic runner and cyclist and frequently can be seen making his way by foot or pedal through Oklahoma City streets. When not working, Nate is reading, writing, watching movies, playing video games, working in his garden, attending concerts, or taking off on road trips.

Nathan Gunter
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