The hat in this week’s photo of me is made from a newspaper. Shameless with too much time on your hands is a bad combination.

So anyway, the story goes that famed newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst believed the word, “news” was plural, and during the Spanish American War, he cabled his reporter in Cuba, asking, “Are there any news?”

“No news,” the reporter cabled back. “Not a single new.”

There are no news right now. Just a single new.  

I try not to write about that new, because you hear enough that. I prefer to write around the edges of it, because it’s more entertaining out here.

So let’s discuss space and time.

Not space and time as discussed by physicists. Space and time as the distance between stuff and the time it takes to do stuff.

What prompted this discussion was a card I recently got from my eye doctor’s office, telling me it was time to schedule my regular visit. My first thought was to ignore it, because let’s face it, an eye exam isn’t the kind of thing that can be done from 6 feet away. However, plain curiosity got the best of me, and I called. Imagine my surprise when the nurse told me it was up to me.

So I decided to give it a chance, and as the day of the appointment approached, I wondered how this was going to go. (I kept picturing the eye doctor standing outside the room, yelling, “OK, Craig, put that eye checker thingy over your face, and tell me if you can see the first line on the chart.”)  

Well, it turned out it’s the same as it’s always been, except both the doctor and the patient wear masks. We trusted each other. Which I think is an apt metaphor for how we’re going to go forward from here.

Although, if we’re going to trust each other, we’re going to have to get the space thing down in public. I mean, I work in a place where there are 6-foot areas taped off for everyone’s protection and convenience, and people still can’t get the concept.

I think the major factor in this is lots of folks can’t grasp how far 6 feet away really is. For reference, it’s two yardsticks. Or one 1.8288 meter stick. Or if you’re in a room with Mr. O’Neal, it’d be roughly three-quarters of a Shaq away. (Give or take …)

Seriously, though, the next time you’re in public, try to maintain an invisible 6-foot barrier around yourself. You’ll find 6 feet is a lot farther than you think it is, it’s a lot farther than other people think it is, and people will glance askance when they realize you’re deliberately trying to back away from them. (Is it my breath?)

That’s space.

Now time …

Do you wash your hands for 20 seconds? Have you actually timed yourself? Well, because I have no friends and no real life, I have, and let me tell you, 20 seconds is a lot longer than you think it is.

They say to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice in your head, but because of my A.D.D., I tend to zone out after the first, “Happy birthday to you.” so that’s no good.

Hence, there are times when I’ll bring my phone along when I wash my hands, just so I can time it. And yes, I do feel mighty self-conscious about it.

Yep, 100 years from now some historian is going to write a book about this time in history, entitled, “6 Feet and 20 Seconds: The Pandemic Sillies.”

Craig Carter is an Ontario resident and can be reached in care of The Argus Observer, 1160 S.W. Fourth St., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of the Argus Observer.

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