Jolted from a deep sleep by the burst of static confirming my trusty 1980s-era clock radio had once again been knocked off the table, my feet hit the floor and the ritual of modern times began.

“Okay. I’m awake. What day is it?”

Answer: No idea whatsoever.

Newspaper presses don’t stop for viruses, or much of anything. That means we at the Leader-News have worked throughout this pandemic, trying to sort out what’s happening and what it all means for you.

We’re not immune to the weirdness bordering on the sublime it brings, however.

Sense of time seems to be the first thing lost in the maelstrom of uncertainty, closures, re-openings, steps forward, steps back, restrictions and freedoms.

“Why?” is a nice philosophic question, no doubt. It would have been far nicer, however, if the phone that Mr. Jobs sold me didn’t read “5:30 a.m. Saturday.” A glance outside confirmed it’s still dark.

Sigh ... I would have sworn it was a Wednesday, or maybe a Monday. In May? July? April?

Deciding coffee would most definitely help in this debate, I stumbled toward the kitchen as the dog offered whined assurances that it really was Saturday and, no, we were not supposed to be up just yet.

Two cups of sanity later, the reality of just what time it was sunk in once more. Yep, it’s Saturday. Now, if I just knew what month.

A friendly call from a family member wasn’t much help when trips that should have been made in April became part of the conversation, interwoven with discussions of Crabtree the Younger’s birthday – apparently it was last week, although I could have sworn it should be coming up in about six weeks. (Frequent column readers may remember that Crabtree the Younger is my niece with rather unique skills like literally packaging herself and finding children’s toys that require a degree in rocket science to construct).

“Happy Birthday however old you are!” I shouted as I called to offer my congrats.

“Umm, thanks,” she said. “I guess. It’s just weird. We got out early for spring break and now I’ve been accepted to college, but it’s like it never ended – high school that is. I feel like I don’t know what month it is.”

Her high school, you see, completely canceled its graduation ceremonies. She’ll get that all important rite of passage document in the mail lumped in with the family’s junk mail and bills, probably before the somewhat complicated gift I purchased for her can be delivered.

“Spring break ought to be ending soon. I think. Maybe?” she said.

Seemed about right to me.

The time slip doesn’t seem to be just a Crabtree phenomenon if the staff at the Leader-News is any indication.

Ask a question that starts, “When did ...” in the office, and you’ll get blank looks, groans, eye rolls or a combination of each every time.

In April right? Maybe June?

The year 2020 proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that The Doctor was right.

“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a nonlinear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey ... stuff,” The Doctor said.

Don’t think so?

Come see me tomorrow when it’s Wednesday or March.




– Shannon Crabtree is editor & publisher of the El Campo Leader-News.

Editor’s Note: The Doctor is a fictional character, but sometimes: “If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats.” – Richard Bach

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