March 24th, 2020
I’ve wanted to start a RubberHedgehog Rubber Stamps blog for a long time now, but honestly, just couldn’t find a place to start.
But, today is a day I thought I’d never see and I had an overwhelming urge to write about it, just to get it all out. I hope you will bear with me.
I started RubberHedgehog Rubber Stamps in 2001. And, for the first six years, I worked my business alone. I worked long hours, and I made friends with some of my regular customers. Their chatty emails and friendly phone calls were the only thing that augmented solitary days filled with making stamps, filling orders, and making more stamps. Still, I loved RubberHedgehog and thought of it as my baby.
Then, in 2008, I hired my first employees and my life and my business changed immeasurably. I had begun a new leg of my journey with extra hands, a lot more hustle and bustle, and much livelier days around my shop.
Today, I employ a small crew of hardworking, fast-moving, creative, caring, and just generally amazing people who have become so vital to my day to day life and business that I didn’t dare think of what I would do without them. I’ve been so fortunate to have found a group of people who are as totally committed to serving our customers as I am. They have filled my days with their laughter, stories about their families and friends, with their generosity and with their authenticity. It’s been a joy. My life and the business were rocketing along, and it felt great.
Then, COVID-19 arrived. We saw it in the news, first spreading across China, then Japan, then Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, Germany, Vietnam, Australia, Italy, Iran, and the United States. The predictions were grim and the numbers just kept going up. Countries began shutting down their borders, then shutting down travel within their borders.
By February, we were doing everything possible to try to keep ourselves and our co-workers safe. We washed our hands thoroughly many times a day, regularly wiped down surfaces that we all touched, and we used hand sanitizer until our hands cracked. We worried together about our families, our friends, and each other, but we stopped hugging and stood farther apart.
On March 12, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine closed schools statewide and the Ohio Department of Health director, Amy Acton, banned all gatherings of more than 100 people. At the time, there were only a few COVID-19 cases in Ohio. But, we could see it coming. The global pandemic was getting closer to the place we all called home.
On March 15, Governor DeWine acting in concert with our Department of Health closed all bars and restaurants in the state of Ohio – allowing only carry out and delivery. All of this was part of a strategy to “flatten the curve” and try to keep our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Additional measures followed in rapid succession: bans on gatherings of 50 or more people, an order to postpone all elective surgeries, the closing of all BMV locations in Ohio, an order closing Barbershops, Salons, and Tattoo parlors.
On March 18, Governor DeWine ordered all businesses to begin taking employee temperatures each day before allowing them to work. I scrambled to find a no-touch thermometer in stock anywhere. There were none locally and the best I could do was order an infrared thermometer off eBay that would arrive March 26th.
Before the thermometer could arrive, Governor DeWine announced a statewide Stay at Home order that closed all non-essential businesses in the state of Ohio. It was announced on a Sunday and took effect the following evening, Monday at 11:59 pm.
And, that’s where I am today. It’s Tuesday and today I worked from home alone. For the first time since 2008, it was just me in the shop cutting out rubber dies and pulling indexed wood from stock and assembling rubber stamps for our customers. It was too quiet, so I found an old pair of earbuds in a desk drawer and listened to some music. But, that didn’t take away the feeling of isolation. It felt grim. And, I really missed all the talking and jokes and stories. I missed the camaraderie and fun of hearing about everyone’s projects and plans and the games they were playing with their kids. It’s going to be a little lonely around here for a while.
But, if it helps keep someone’s son or daughter, mom or dad, grandma or grandpa out of the ICU and off of a ventilator, it will be worth it. I’m also very glad that I am still able to do this job by myself still – though I admit I felt clumsy and slow because it’s been a while since I did everything by myself and also because my usual crew could have done it much faster and probably with more flair.
My thoughts go out to my wonderful crew who are at home, sheltering in place. We will keep in touch for however long it takes to flatten the curve. I am eager to welcome them back as soon as it is safe. And, my thoughts are always with my customers. I hope they are somewhere safe as well. I imagine them using our rubber stamps to help pass the time while they are also staying at home. I wish for their continued health and happiness in this time of crisis for us all.
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- Tags: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Global Pandemic, ohio shelter in place, store news, Working alone, Working from home