Illustration by Ryan Hanson
May 13, 2021
Your unofficial guide to what’s in and what’s out in the New Normal
Pandemic etiquette is hard! Here are a few simple updated community guidelines, so we can make this summer fun for all
Scene: It’s Sunday. It’s sunny. It’s sticky. It’s (almost) summer! I’m running errands along Manhattan Ave, Greenpoint’s main drag. It’s nice to see it bustling like 2019. While waiting at a crosswalk, I see a woman carrying an iced latte and a tote bag full of … more tote bags probably. Statistically, there are 14 totes per Brooklyn resident, which is an alarming fact I just made up.
Anyway, she struggles to get her mask on without putting down either drink or bag. After three failed attempts, she lowers her hand and simply lets go of the mask. A gust of wind whisks it into the middle of the street where it’s pulverized by delivery trucks. Flagrant littering violation aside, I see myself in her. Maybe we all do: We want to do what’s right but can barely keep up with what right even is. And because we’re human, we’ll do what we think is right and in the process do something dumb.
Brooklyn Magazine is here to help. Things are going to keep changing rapidly, and it’s important to respect others who are slow to adjust to this new and ever evolving normal. With just a few simple updated community guidelines, we can all make this summer more fun and less stressful.
With that, it’s out with the Old Order and in with the New Normal:
Old Order: Outdoor masks
New Normal: Outdoor markets
I’m well post-second Pfizer shot so I’ve definitely been raw jawing it around town. I stopped by Greenpoint Terminal Market where I saw food vendors, creatives and local shop owners like Julia Small of smallhome who told me, “These markets help small businesses who will be recovering from Covid for years. They strengthen the community financially and spiritually.”
Old Order: Washing your hands once a year
New Normal: Suds and sanitizers
It was probably more like once a day, but the point is I got into the habit and it stuck. USC’s Keck Medicine says soap should always be our first option, but when I let go of that slimy Citi Bike handlebar, it’s Purell to the rescue.
Old Order: Almost getting hit by a car all the time
New Normal: Pedestrian only streets
Elbow room! New York has pedestrianized some 100 miles of streets over the course of the pandemic. It has been great for local businesses who are using the sidewalks and parking spaces to survive. The only detractors seem to be car owners, to whom I offer one bit of advice: move.
Old Order: Screw you, cyclists!
New Normal: Bicycles to the rescue!
It takes about eight weeks to form a new habit and since we were in lockdown for 35 years, it looks as if many of our new cycling habits are here to stay.
Old Order: Parked cars
New Normal: Parked dining
“It feels very European,“ say people who always want you to know they spend time in Europe. Once the horrifying fact that the only thing separating you from oncoming traffic is a piece of wood and some plexiglass, eating on the sidewalks and street is liberating and relaxing.
Old Order: Long, listless walks through empty city streets devoid of the spirit and energy that makes up New York’s soul, only to find yourself standing on the Williamsburg Bridge yelling the lyrics to LCD Soundsystem’s “New York I Love You” hoping to hear “but you’re bringing me down” from someone. Anyone!
New Normal: Standup comedy!
Emotionally sanitize your depression with standup. I did my first post lockdown show at Eastville Comedy Club, the only official comedy club in Brooklyn (hard to believe, but true) and 33 percent capacity felt full and lively.
Old Order: That annoying pizza rat guy
New Normal: Probably that annoying pizza rat guy still
We all need to make a buck and some of us can apparently do it dressed as a meme from 2015. The subways are getting crowded again so here’s hoping commuters don’t treat him like an actual pest.
Old Order: Athleisure
New Normal: Actual effort
It was admittedly fun to be pajama-level lazy for a few months, but by December I was looking for any reason to put real clothes back on. I knew I was getting desperate when I put on a three piece suit to sign for a UPS package. The city is back. Let’s make it a runway again.
Old Order: Grocery shopping
New Normal: Grocery delivery
Jef Bezos doesn’t need our help, but the many New Yorkers who have taken up delivery jobs to make ends meet do. Whole Foods will do same day delivery, and the checkout page in the app says 100 percent of tips go to its drivers. So I’m more than happy to skip every other grocery run and put a few bucks directly in a fellow Brooklynite’s pocket. (PS: Tip literally everyone.)
Old Order: Put ‘er there
New Normal: Stay over there
I’m not excited about the return of the handshake. Germs aside, I never know if it will suddenly turn into some complicated young person’s shake that I’ll invariably screw up and go from looking like I’m in my 30s to acting like I’m in my 90s. And before you get all sentimental, the bow and curtsy were commonplace once too. I’m all for a fist bump, elbow bump or a side hug. Or we can high five over Zoom.
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