The new language of laying low

Column by Andrea W. Doray
Posted 3/25/20

To our valued customers ….” You’ve probably received emails or letters in the past couple of weeks that start with this language. Most of them follow with assurances such as: “Your health is …

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The new language of laying low

Posted

To our valued customers ….”

You’ve probably received emails or letters in the past couple of weeks that start with this language. Most of them follow with assurances such as:

“Your health is our top priority. As a team, we have built a culture that prioritizes safety for our patients and staff” (EyeCare Specialties).

Or, “We want to offer reassurance that we are taking proactive measures in following and implementing CDC guidelines” (Safelite Auto Glass).

Or, “As we navigate these unprecedented times, I want to ensure that we are keeping you, our valued customers, informed … providing you with a safe, healthy and enjoyable travel experience” (Frontier Airlines).

Many of these messages continue with language such as:

“Small businesses are the soul of every community across the globe. Many of you own or work in a small business … and even more of you support your local community’s small businesses each day” (Vistaprint).

And, “We know no words will do justice to everyone’s individual experience over the last couple weeks. All of us feel the weight of our responsibility to the community, particularly right now” (Lyft).

And, “With all that is going on in the world today we wanted to send you a little thank you for all the support you have given us throughout the years” (Murray’s Shoes).

Some businesses also help customers understand how to patronize them … by purchasing merchandise online, ordering restaurant pick-up or carry-out, and buying gift certificates for future services from salons.

All of this makes sense … providing information, offering comfort, and exploring alternatives for this crazy time in which we find ourselves, and, in many ways, aren’t that dissimilar to messages we’ve received before, say, during a three-day blizzard or an extended power outage.

But, they are different.

These messages tell us that business hours are changed, that staffing is reduced, or that doors are shuttered altogether for an undetermined amount of time. And the language used by health agencies, hospitals and doctors, and governments to provide information and guidance has brought a new lexicon to such laying low.

“An abundance of caution,” “self-quarantine,” “shelter in place,” and, of course, the ubiquitous “social distancing” are on pretty much everyone’s lips, as well as “non-essential,” “delayed,” “postponed,” “canceled,” and, god help us, “global recession.”

There are also countless pieces of advice (including my own recent column on working at home) for following CDC guidelines, observing new state and local policies, and managing lives we never thought we would be living.

Unfortunately, there’s also been a surge in hateful speech and violence, especially directed at our Asian and Asian-American neighbors, for no other reason than racist bigotry.

Yet, high school choirs post individual-but-combined performances of “Over the Rainbow” on social media. Families around the globe use streaming services to comfort one another. Friends who hardly found time to get together before share virtual happy hours now.

And then there are people like writer Gretchen Rubin who, in her recent newsletter, said, “Let’s keep our eyes on the things that matter most. We’ll get through this difficult time, together. Let’s reach out with love.”

This is a language I can embrace … sending virtual hugs to you all.

Andrea Doray is a writer who knows there are so many, so many people who are in dire circumstances … let’s reach out with love. Contact her at a.doray@andreadoray.com.

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