You Really Have to Wonder

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are making special efforts to reach out to family members, friends, and other loved ones to make sure they’re okay. We want to make sure everyone we care about is healthy, happy if they can be, and taking the appropriate steps to maintain those two conditions.

But you really have to wonder: What the hell were we waiting for?

Carelessness and thoughtlessness are insidious things. Think about it: Were any of us deliberately hanging around thinking, “By gum, as soon as we get a global pandemic or two around here, I’m going to start checking in with everyone I care about to make sure everything’s hunky-dory?” I don’t think so. At the very least, I hope not.

It’s more likely that day-to-day preoccupations — the myriad vagaries of life and living — supersede caring and thoughtfulness with ersatz senses of importance and urgency.

Yes. I know. The house needs to be cleaned. The bills need to be paid. The groceries need to be bought. The meals need to be prepared. The kids need to be supervised. The lawn needs to be mowed. Your boss wants whatever it is you’re working on yesterday, with a progress report the day before that. Your neighbor keeps calling because he can’t find his circuit breaker, so he can’t get his sump pump working. The battery in your car needs to be replaced because you haven’t driven anywhere in months. And the exhaust system on your car also needs to be replaced because all the condensation that collected in there from all the driving you didn’t do corroded the whole damn thing.

But you really can’t find five minutes to call your Mom or your Uncle Bert? Come on.

We can do better:

If we think of COVID as an opportunity, we just might be amazed at what we can accomplish and all the connections we can make.

Shall we start now?


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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    • Thank you, Melissa. This series of videos has evolved to a point at which the music I find (all of which is copyright-free) almost always seems to coincide with whatever happens to be on my mind during a given week. I don’t think I know what that means or suggests just yet. But it’s fun, nevertheless.

      I’m glad you joined the conversation.

  1. The logical extension of #humansfirst related to work is #humansfirst related to self and others. If at work we tend to focus on the mechanics of the job – at the expense of focusing on the people – to your point, we tend to do the same in our personal lives. On most days, given the self-imposed frenetic pace of life, we focus on all the things that need to be addressed and not the people orbiting our personal planet. The “fix” is to s l o w and remember that #humansfirst caring doesn’t end at the office door – or when you turn off the latest zoom call with colleagues.

    Well said, Mark.

    • Thank you, Jeff. To paraphrase some of what I said in my response to Mac Bogert, being inconsiderate of others was not something for which there was much appetite or tolerance in the home of my childhood. The older I get, the more I consider that to be a distinct advantage. I think that upbringing also contributed to my very strong sense of and belief in karma.

      Thank you for joining the discussion.

  2. Hi, Mark.

    Yep. It feels like we’ve been blind-sided by this explosion, but we’ve been setting ourselves up for this from a public health standpoint, from a political standpoint, and from a social/cultural/community standpoint too. I’m not an anarchist or a conspiracy guy, yet our flailing around has highlighted some bad habits about greed, objectifying other people, and mistaking accumulation for success. We’re all grieving (even if some of what we’ve lost was dysfunctional), we’re all in pain, and we’re all living through the dictum of 12-step programs: Only an addict would see isolation as the cure for loneliness.

    So picking up that 200-pound telephone, asking our neighbor how long they’ve had their dog, saying not just hello but “thank you” to the postal carrier, the grocery store employee, and the person who tells you you dropped your shopping list adds to the current of community. And you’re right – why does it seem like such an effort?
    I think we’re just out of caring shape.

    Thanks, Mark.

    P.S. Let me know if you’d like to join me for an episode on back2different. Would love to have you as a guest:

    • Mac,

      What you’ve described here is just one of the myriad reasons I’m grateful for my father. From him, I learned to talk with and be respectful to everyone:

      Exhibit A:

      Exhibit B:

      People say to me with disarming frequency, “How come you talk to everyone?” My response is, “How come you don’t?”

      I’d love to join you on your podcast. And I’m game to talk about whatever you’d like.

      Thank you for the offer and for your comments here.