MY COVID JOURNEY

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” – Charles Dickens

Here’s my story.

The first time I was actually concerned about Covid was a Joe Rogan podcast.

A guy came on and started discussing, in scientific terms, that this indeed was a U.S. threat and it was real and it was gonna kill a lot of people. I was like Holy Buckets. Boy was I ready to fight this! Lockdown, isolate, whatever it takes!

That was aired March 10, 2020.

About a week later on a Friday I picked up my kids from elementary school. There I saw the 8th grade teacher and I said, “Well this might be their last day for a while. She laughed and said yeah right, I don’t think so.” I will never forget that conversation. By Monday it was over. We were locked down. The playground had yellow police tape around it; the kids could no longer play on the playground.

Our church went virtual. I taped the first broadcast. I wanted to help. Sacrifices needed to be made. The weak protected.

At work, all leaders were forced to make IMMEDIATE decisions based on limited facts and unknown consequences. It was mass chaos. We didn’t know if we were going to be essential or not. I am the president of a building supply company, if we couldn’t ship to jobsites, we would ruin our customer’s businesses as well. We were deemed essential. Looking back, if this thing was truly going to kill a ton of us… construction IS NOT essential. That was my first sign, my first thought of like, what the hell is going on? School was closed. Construction sites OPEN. That made no sense to me… if I followed logic.

But for 2 weeks in isolation (then 3, than 4…than more) it was a glorious time. I worked at home. I fixed up a 1916 model T that would of never got fixed up. I saw no one. Went nowhere. Sprayed down our groceries. I was scared to see my parents and in-laws in fear of giving them the Covid. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… I spent 24 hours a day with the 4 people closest to me, my family.

My wife Pam’s gym closed. Then Trie Fitness did virtual. For free. It was bizarre.

We had the community make masks for our workers that were essential. I didn’t go in the office, I wanted to show resilience. We went to a 32 hour work week. I took no pay. Surely this would spark the worst depression in the history of time. Instead, we should of been HIRING. As cash flow soared people still had money and spent it. It was essential, so jobsites operated under normal circumstances. At job sites people didn’t social distance or wear masks..and guess what …outbreaks didn’t occur. Hmm… again I thought ..what the hell?

We came back to work. We allowed people to work from home, which was completely not allowed at Drexel previously. Now it is part of our culture, granted you are the right person and the right position for that. It works! Eureka! That was awesome. We wanted to go paperless forever. This pressure, like coal, indeed made a diamond! We embraced technology and got busy getting busy… we partnered with Monday.com and now have paper free work-sharing form tools. It is truly remarkable what we did at that time. I fired our top sales manager, redid the commercial department, reworked sales people’s pay plans, and much more… things we simply were ignoring in the “good times.” Most of these ideas came in the 10 days I was home. Maybe I was home for 3 weeks…

But I did come back. We wiped down the doors hourly. Stood apart and were like… wow this is weird. We started doing google meetings. Lots of google meets (zoom meetings). I had always hated them, now an essential tool in our day to day business. Nothing replaces face to face, but this is pretty darn good. We still do. I have a few scheduled for today.

We bought Blenker Building Systems DURING the lockdown, May 1st. I was advised TO NOT DO this deal, nobody knew the future, all deals were on hold, or priced reduced. A pandemic was no time to be shy.

Everything, and I mean everything was canceled. It didn’t matter what it was, it was canceled.

And then our governor declared masks were mandatory after the CDC initially said masks don’t work, but then announced they only said that to not cause a panic. That pissed me off. Our government intentionally lied to us, or did they? I wasn’t sure. And quickly around that time, it got political. I tell you I didn’t see that coming. This was the one time we should be working together. But no, it had to be Trump’s fault, or Fauci’s, not sure again. Everyone said to follow the science, but what science? We wanted the truth and there was none. Just opinions, normally slanted toward their political persuasion. Bizarre.

The Catholic church even shut down. No sacraments. Nothing. We turned our back on God when he was there for us the most. Why? Fear. Maybe getting sued… they didn’t want to lose money. The government mandates they followed closer than they did the Holy Spirit. People didn’t want to be blamed in any problems… True cowards emerged.

We came back to work. The governor came on the news, he said you must wear masks at all times. At that point, I was against it all. Not against the virus: I could see that was real. But I sensed it was 100% blown out of proportion. The national media slanted it all to look the worst possible. Fearporn was the term and the norm. But if you questioned it, you didn’t care about people and labeled a Trumpster. No, I was just relaying what I believed and researched. Individuals didn’t have a voice. You couldn’t see a dying parent, visit a relative in an old age home, and the kids couldn’t even hang out with each other. It was all canceled for the greater good.

So back to the mask mandate in Wisconsin. We sent an email to all 600 people. Time to mask up. After 4 months of lockdowns and wiping everything down, now it was ALL ABOUT THE MASKS.

**** here was original e-mail***

Caitlin Stoll <caitlin.stoll@drexelteam.com>Thu, Jul 30, 2020, 3:39 PM
to me

Hey team… Starting Monday due to statewide restrictions Drexel will be requiring anyone within any of our locations to wear a face mask/covering. 

Here are some questions you may have regarding what this means for Drexel:
DO I HAVE TO WEAR A MASK? IF YOU ARE UNDER A ROOF, YES.   This also includes manufacturing.  If you are in an open shed, outside, or in your own trucks, or outdoors at a new construction job site it is UP TO YOU. 
… Installing flooring INSIDE? yep.

… Installing windows OUTSIDE? up to you.
… If you work at home... no… (kind of a little obvious humor there) 
Will Drexel make Drexel logoed masks?  NO.  Too expensive.  Takes too long to get.  And we see no reason to do this.
How will this affect Drexel?  We are BEYOND BLESSED.  In America the economy is down 32% this year (just announced).  WE ARE UP OVER 20%…NOT INCLUDING OUR NEW TEAM IN AMHERST!  It might not last but we will ride this wave HARD.  

What is the state law?  Here it is in all its glory.  https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/WIGOV/2020/07/30/file_attachments/1507337/EMO01-FaceCoverings.pdf
What is considered a mask?  Cloth covering.  Medical mask looking, buff, or bandanas all meet state regulations.
Are customers required?  Yes, it’s state law.  On them, not on US!  However, be respectful of our clients/builders. If they ask you to wear a mask at a jobsite please put a mask on.
Will Drexel provide masks? Just like your own socks or underwear… that’s ON YOU to get a mask.  Same for our customers entering. Each head coach will be sent 50 disposable masks, via Amazon, to keep at their desks. So in an EMERGENCY, YES.
My mask fogs my glasses up, what should I do?Here are some helpful tips…https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/fashion-beauty/article/3080804/how-stop-face-mask-fogging-your-glasses

If I have a medical condition, am I exempt from wearing a mask?We will follow state guidelines. We are not having a “Drexel policy” and will not be playing “mask police.” We are just doing what the state requires us to do.Will we riot at Drexel?  Not yet… but this lack of freedom is PISSING ME OFF.  
Thanks.  As they said in karate kid:  Mask on.  Mask off.Of something like that.

****

There is nothing we can do. But then, that morning at my desk, in my mask, I read the governor’s mandate. It excluded people in the governor’s office or anyone employed in the government to wear a mask. “They” were all exempt. Why? If this was such a serious thing, wouldn’t ALL be required. NOPE. In the next few minutes I sent out another e-mail saying we were mask free. Your choice. Your freedom.

I took to social media often, offering my insights. I was attacked. I actually wasn’t ready for that. I thought we were all on the same page. Wow, was I wrong. I knew people died from it, but somehow I was called insensitive and much worse. This video, which I still believe in, was my most criticized. I naively thought this video would change people’s minds. But once a person’s mind is made up… it is very difficult to sway them…instead everyone dug in their heels, either you were PRO MASK TO HELP THE WORLD… OR ANTIMASK IN THE NAME OF COMMON SENSE….there were no winners, only losers. And yet the dying laid in beds alone, the kids went uneducated in a horrible virtual world.

My family and Drexel… never did buy into the new way of living… we fought the battles where and when we could. Did people at Drexel get Covid? YOU BET! Myself included. Did anyone die? No. Did we get lucky? Yes. On any given day if you don’t die you get lucky. Did we get Covid as a group any more than say Mercury Marine in Fond du lac (a company near us that to date still is not back in the workplace)? Doubtful. The numbers don’t show that.

I researched the crap out of covid. I studied viruses. I figured out viruses have a bell curve. They go up fast. They go down fast. And that’s that. And that’s what happened at maskless Drexel. In Wisconsin. In a hyper masked up Dane County in Wisconsin. In California. In Sweden. In Mexico. In Florida. I kept posting these facts. Things did spike. Hospitals did get full, they weren’t ready for the spike. But we got over it.

I helped a little to give Josh Cadman the courage to open up the school in the little town where I work, Campbellsport. And the crazy son of a bitch did it. He took it on himself and did it. I will always remember that. Some stuff opened back up with the weirdest rules. You can play basketball, with no fans, wear masks, and no jump ball or handshakes at the end. That is friggin hilarious. Always was. Always will be. But JOEL…THE RISK! Oh, bullshit I say.

We were told in 2020..this was all to slow the spread. Then it was to stop Covid. Then is was until we are vaccinated. And then it was “watch the variants”. No matter what we did the future was always darker. But the darkness never came. We were never told why it didn’t come, but only that it was going to get worse. Never discussed why the worst didn’t happen, only that this time would be worse, and that you better be prepared.

The future was always bleak. Wait until the kids go back to school, they said. Wait until Halloween (yes even getting candy was gonna cause an outbreak.) Until Christmas (please stay home) TUntil … we are all vaccinated but even then… not so sure we are safe.

Even on May 6th 2021… Fauci said we were only at the 6th inning. Then on May 13… the CDC, stated yeah if you are vaccinated return to 100% normal life.

Just. Like. That.

The CDC was given COMPLETE AUTHORITY over our lives, the economy, even our faith! And they are a completely biased train wreck of an organization. That much is obvious. So blatantly obvious. But even this statement will be takent as: Joel’s rant on politics. Bullshit. That’s the facts. Just the facts.

Even when we are now following science the teacher’s union says …not so fast… we aren’t there yet…. California..says just to be safe let’s continue the masks… just to be safe of course. So if you followed the CDC’s guidelines,… but now you aren’t… I question that logic.

To me that says: RESPECT OUR POWER. RESPECT OUR DECISIONS OVER YOURS.

The government gave out trillions of dollars because of the restrictions they caused, that we will pay for! Did I take the money? Hell yes! If the government is going to take our money and ethically I fall under the guidelines, I will take it. I don’t believe in it though. People are getting bonuses to not work. So they are still not working. Businesses are being propped up, bad businesses, because the government is giving them money. And on and on. Trillions! Quit it already.

And it never stops: BUT JOEL PEOPLE WILL DIE. PEOPLE HAVE DIED. Yes, tons of people died. Many of them masked up and still got it and most sadly died. Locked down in an old age home ALONE to save themselves and they STILL GOT IT. Even after their death, they asked in their obituaries, MASK UP FOR ME. We did…and so sadly you still died. Death happens. Will happen.

God promises us we will die but be saved. But it was all about US, as individuals. Self-protection under any means. Our own selfishness got us. And our bitterness against others.

Suicides are out of control. People are more bitter than ever. You must be FOR something OR against something. No middle ground. That is exhausting and a damn shame.

I hope we learned. I fear we haven’t. Hopefully the next pandemic is 100 years from now and somebody reminds us of the past. But history tends to repeat… It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….

— Joel Fleischman

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