COVID-19: nothing new under the sun

Doug Collins - Tuesday, May 19, 2020
What has been will be again, 
what has been done will be done again; 
there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9

When I was around four I tripped running up the back stairs to our house. I landed on the sharp edge of the pressed sheet metal box that the local dairy provided their customers who signed up for milk delivery. The box made a deep gash by my left eye. My mom took me, bleeding and sniffling, to the doctor for stitches. I recall that removing the stitches hurt more than the gash. 

Not long afterwards the dairy stopped home delivery. Our local grocery store, an A&P, was taking too much business from them. The dairy let us keep the metal box, however. I remember eyeing it with suspicion every time I ran into the house. We kept our distance from one another. 

Years pass. Fast forward to today. This morning the firm Market Wagon promoted delivery of milk to the home to me via a Facebook ad. Market Wagon bills itself as bringing the farmers market to the doorstep. They bring together a variety of local producers--dairies, truck farms, etc.--and deliver a bundle of farm-fresh goodness to the consumer on a weekly scheduled route. 

Market Wagon features a very nice front end to their web site, including an ecommerce engine that makes ordering and scheduling painless. 

Consultancies such as McKinsey and Accenture have of late published white papers on the "new normal." The firms assert that our collective future has been accelerated by our reasonable desire not to die at the hands of COVID19. There is not enough Plexiglas in the world to enable us to turn back the clock. 

The white papers make for interesting reading. However, I might also suggest that the author of Ecclesiastes was onto something by way of an eternal truth: the acceleration of change allows us to revisit older ways of working and doing business together. 

In this case, home delivery in its various forms appeals more to us now as we seek to avoid infection. 

By extension, what did the world look like before people crowded into elevators to ascend the first skyscrapers?

What did the world look like before we could fly anywhere, anytime, in aggrieved discomfort?

How did society carry on in the time of diphtheria and polio?

It may be that a discerning look into the past, combined with an appreciation of the exponential growth in technology, yields interesting new ideas for the future. Perhaps the Market Wagons of the world are onto something. 

In closing, the four-year-old in me rejoices to learn that Market Wagon has forsaken the pressed sheet metal boxes of old. Today, they use thermally insulated totes that, along with doing a better job of insulating milk, would seem to offer a safer landing for rambunctious kids. 

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