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GROB: The imperfect vision of 2020

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

We should have known it from the start.

We should have known there was going to be something wrong with 2020 the first week of the new year.

I know it seems like 10 years ago, but if you’ll remember, for the first few days in January, every time we had to sign and date something, a very helpful cashier or receptionist would remind us to use four digits for the year.

“Don’t just write 20, you need to write 2020,” the person would tell us.

GROB: The imperfect vision of 2020
James Grob

This was because, it was explained to me, that just putting “20” on paper made it easy for someone to come along and change the date on the signature. Someone could just write a “19” or a “21” next to my “20,” and the entire year would be changed and perhaps my signature would be legally meaningless. Chaos and anarchy would be sure to follow, and possibly some mild personal inconvenience.

I heard this explanation several times, and each time I listened and nodded my head. “Seems reasonable,” I would say to myself, as I made sure I wrote “2020” next to my signature, instead of just “20.”

I felt, for a moment, like I was privy to some exclusive secret survivalist information. Those dirty-dealing scammers weren’t going to get me, I thought to myself. I was on to their little con game. Did my mama raise any dummies? No, my mama most certainly did not.

I’ve been writing “2020” on everything I have to sign and date ever since, not just “20.” It wasn’t until a few minutes ago that I asked myself “why?” Why would someone go to the trouble of nefariously changing the date on my signature? What would a person have to gain by doing that? Is there some kind of strange mental condition that compels people to change dates on signatures, just for the thrill of it? How thrilling could that possibly be?

I’m buying $8 worth of batteries. How would underhandedly nullifying this transaction work to anyone’s advantage or disadvantage? I don’t even understand how the date by my signature would even come up — I cannot imagine a situation where someone would feel the need bring into question the exact year that I decided to buy $8 worth of batteries.

“I know you claim you bought those batteries in 2020, sir, but your signature tells me otherwise. I hereby offer proof that you indeed, bought those batteries in 2021, a full year later. You, sir, are a liar, and you thoroughly disgust me. Off with his head!”

Despite the poignant absurdity of it all, I’m still just going along with it. I write “2020” next to everything I sign, because several months ago, a nice cashier who seemed to know more about these things than I did told me it was a good idea. Why rock the boat? Go along to get along, that’s my motto.

(That’s really not my motto. I don’t really have a motto, but if I did, I’d like to think it would be more interesting than that.)

What I’m saying is we should have known back then that something was up. We should have known in January that 2020 was going to be nothing but trouble. We should have made our stand then, before things got out of hand.

Since that time, we’ve had an economic collapse, a deadly, rapidly-spreading pandemic that made the economic collapse worse, lockdowns and quarantines, racial strife and violence in the streets, the cancellation of all major events (and many minor ones), mass unemployment, businesses shutting down, a frenzied rush to close down schools — followed by an inexplicable demand to open them back up — and, of course, the swarms of Murder Hornets.

If you haven’t heard about the Murder Hornets, I honestly am not making them up. They are out there, we just haven’t given them any attention because there’s so much other crap going on. In a normal year, the Murder Hornets would have most of us wetting our pants in fear. You know it’s a bad year when people hear about something called Murder Hornets and everyone just shrugs their shoulders and says “no biggie.”

I’m not even mentioning all the personal struggles I’ve had to go through, and the terrible pain and anguish many of the people I know have had to endure this year on a personal level, unrelated to all the widely-reported problems.

And to top it all off, Regis died, folks. Regis. Who didn’t love Regis? I already miss him.

With all that said, the most awful thing about 2020 is simply the fact that there are five full months left before it’s over. And if things don’t change, 2021 is standing there at the end of it all and saying, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

We don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s the year of Murphy’s Law. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

I know it sometimes feels like we just have to sit and take it. I see helplessness out there, and I see rage and anger, and I see sorrow, and I see dread. And sometimes I feel all of those things, and I don’t have an answer.

2020 has taken a lot of things away from us, and it’s going to take even more before it’s done.

But it can’t take away laughter, it can’t take away hope, it can’t take away love.

Those things are in our hearts to stay. Sometimes we have to look hard and deep for them, because they get buried beneath piles of all the other junk. But they’re still in there, I promise.

Find them. You can do it. Help your buddies find them. Help your enemies find them, too.

Find them every day. Make it a habit.

Make it so you do it without thinking, without questioning, without wondering why.

Like writing 2020 next to your signature.

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