Are We There Yet?

Published: 23/11, 2020

By the time this issue of PDa arrives in your mailbox, the long, often excruciating 2020 election cycle in the U.S. will be over. Aside from gratitude for the merciful end to political ads, we won’t speculate on winners and losers, and what the outcome means for the construction industry and pretty much everything else. That’s what pub discussions and social media accounts are for. 

For the most part, our focus will swiftly return to managing the many personal and economic trials the year has brought, hopeful that we can hang on for just a few more socially distanced weeks until it’s time to make that symbolism-packed calendar flip over to 2021. 

And then…well, 2021 doesn’t really stick in the imagination the way its more rhythmic predecessor does. Along with its futuristic connotations, 2020 has always suggested clarity of vision. And boy, have we seen plenty over the past several months, including a lot no one ever expected or asked for.

But perhaps a more run-of-the-mill year is just what we need, especially if it restores a sense of routine and normalcy to our daily lives.

To be sure, 2021 will be an extension of 2020 in many respects. While medical science is making welcome progress toward multiple safe and effective coronavirus vaccines, various levels of health-related restrictions will remain in force across North and South America for a good while. Even then, there’ll be no sudden “all clear,” signal, but more likely a more incremental return to whatever state of “normal” groups and individuals feel comfortable with.  

That’s part of the thinking behind the rescheduling of the wintertime industry mainstay World of Concrete show to June in the hope that folks in general will be less leery of traveling around the country. (By the way, the average high temperature in Las Vegas in June is 102° F [39° C]; but it’s a “dry heat,” and the Convention Center always seems to have plenty of strategically placed beer gardens.)

As we cross our fingers that 2021 will herald the start of the post-pandemic generation, there’s naturally all sorts of speculation of what that world will look like. No doubt some things will pick up right where they left off this past February (the closing shindig of NDA’s Demolition Austin comes to mind) while other aspects will be fraught with caution, maybe forever. But maybe that’s not so bad; just think of all those times spent in crowded spaces surrounded by coughs and sneezes a few days before feeling a bit ill yourself.

My guess is that the “new normal” will look for the most part like the old one. After the 1918-19 influenza pandemic, it didn’t take long for people to get pretty cozy again, developing habits that lasted for most of the next century. Let’s hope by this time next year, we’ll be talking more about construction and less about viruses.

But keep those masks and hand sanitizers handy, just in case.


Jim Parsons, Senior Editor

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