Don’t You Dare Give Up

By Lyle Hill

I think it’s Saturday of week eight, but it could be Tuesday of week 12, or maybe even Thursday of week 18. They are all running together right now. I have taken to looking at the printed calendar hanging on the wall next to my desk at least three times a day to make sure. It’s hard to imagine what we are going through right now. But it is real and somewhat terrifying. Like most, I know people who have been infected by the COVID-19 virus. Some are no longer with us. This is being written on May 23 … I just checked, it’s Saturday … in 2020 from Oak Brook, Ill. This part of the country is still in shutdown mode while some others, such as our neighbor to the north, Wisconsin, have reopened for business under certain guidelines. The short-term effects of the pandemic are obvious, but we won’t know for a while what the long-term effects will be. For instance, yesterday Hertz Rental Cars announced that they are filing for bankruptcy. Who else will follow? It has been predicted that at least one major airline will not survive. Store closings have been in the hundreds and I have been told by a couple of small business owners that they are not going to survive. One business owner, a guy who used to work for me, sent me his resume yesterday and asked me to try to help him land somewhere. But while we really don’t know the future, and don’t truly even understand the present, some things are predictable.

There will be winners and losers from the pandemic. There will also be some realignment or shifting of the principal players in every industry including the glass industry. There will be dozens of new start-ups and a number of business sales, mergers or failures. The government loan and bailout programs will greatly help some, but not all. It remains to be seen just how long it will take the economy to recover and when it does, what it will look like. We don’t know what the net impact of the pandemic shutdown will be. Online shopping, working from home, and online educational formats have all received an incredible push due to the pandemic. They are going to be even more widely accepted and practiced than before. The impact on everything from car dealers, shopping malls, colleges and office buildings to retailers will be tremendous. These business segments were already under pressure and the quarantine/shutdown has added to their concerns over survival.

This has been a learning experience for us all—and not just in commercial ways. We have learned a lot about ourselves, as well. As my conversations with old friends and business acquaintances have lengthened, I have reached some conclusions with which you may or may not agree. Specifically, I think we all fall into one of two groups. Neither of them have anything to do with politics. It seems to me that many people, when reflecting on the current situation, seem to be thankful for what they have and are doing the best they
can to deal with it in an upbeat manner. They are optimistic about the future and are confident that we will survive this and move forward as we have done in the past. The other group is far more concerned with blaming someone for the problem and its lack of a quick fix. I feel sorry for these people. A lot of people are hurting right now. Jobs have been lost, homes will be lost and businesses will fail. It’s a tragedy for anyone going through it. But jobs, homes and businesses are replaceable. And in this land of opportunity, as long as you have your health and are willing to work, you’ll be okay. Above all, be thankful for this.

When I sat down this morning to start working on this article, I had made a list of things I was going to write about. It was a list of humorous comments … at least I thought they would be humorous … that related to surviving the shutdown/shelter-at-home thing. I was going to cover everything from toilet paper searches to dealing with school-age kids at home all day. The human experience, even in times of stress, is a beautiful thing to observe and comment on. It’s one of my life’s pleasures.

Maybe next month we’ll get into some of that. But as I started to type, I felt that it wasn’t yet time to go in this direction … at least not for me. I enjoy laughing as much as anyone, but the tough times are still here. This thing is not over yet. A lot of people have died and more are hurting badly right now. And if you are one of those hurting, I just want to say “don’t give up.” Don’t be ashamed about things you can’t control, and know that those friends and family that care about you will always be there for you. Keep the faith. And if you don’t have any, get some. Don’t you dare give up … especially not on yourself.

Lyle Hill is the managing director of Keytech North America, a company providing research and technical services for the glass and metal industry. He also serves as president of Glass.com, an information portal and job generation company for the glass industry. Hill has more than 40 years’ experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at lhill@glass.com.

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