Hands of girl is using scissors to cut or destroy medical protective mask that has been used before disposing of trash,prevent the sale of the mask again during the outbreak of Coronavirus or Covid-19
Satjawat Boontanataweepol/istockphoto

Things We Never Want to See Again After the Pandemic Is Over

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Hands of girl is using scissors to cut or destroy medical protective mask that has been used before disposing of trash,prevent the sale of the mask again during the outbreak of Coronavirus or Covid-19
Satjawat Boontanataweepol/istockphoto

The New Normal (Yes, Let's Lose This Phrase Too)

This past year-plus has been an experience few of us could ever have imagined. Living through the pandemic has been a life-changing experience for so many. As we cautiously (enthusiastically?) look forward to a post-pandemic life with a semblance of normalcy, we also reflect on some of the things we are more than happy to leave behind.

Related: 18 Ways the Pandemic Changed Our Lives in 2020

New face masks

Face Masks

The face mask is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind. They protected us, to be sure, but also made the reality of the pandemic something we saw every single day. In addition to taking away our "personality" — leopard-print masks notwithstanding — they also became a polarizing symbol in the fight against COVID-19. And lest we forget, they brought their own kind of issues, from acne to fogged eyeglasses. Still, as mandates drop, some say they may not ever fully go away.  

Related: Designer Masks and Other High-End Pandemic Products That Spare No Expense

girl holding an antiseptic against bacteria
Sheviakova kateryna/istockphoto

Hand Sanitizer and Gloves

No one wants to be "dirty," but the pandemic's unwavering focus on hand washing, hand sanitizers and, in the earliest days, disposable gloves were routine. People wanted to avoid touching groceries, mail, and door handles like never before. While keeping our hands clean isn't a bad idea, these protections were as useful as they were instrumental in increasing our anxiety.      

Related: How to Disinfect Without Damaging Your Things or Your Health

Youp people working inside a coworking behind safety plexiglass during coronavirus outbreak - Social distance concept - Focus on right man face

Plexiglas Panels

Though these are still very much with us in many situations, despite their being "see through," Plexiglas partitions created a literal barrier between people, from the clerk at the gas station to the student at the next desk over. They helped reinforced a sense of isolation at every turn.   


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NYC COVID19 Lockdown
James Fletcher/istockphoto

Lines Outside Supermarkets

Who could have imagined waiting in the cold or rain to be allowed to enter a grocery store? Panic buying, increased cooking at home, and grocery stores being among the few "essential businesses" we could patronize made them a go-to necessity. Stores also introduced and enforced limits on shopper capacity, as well as hours reserved for seniors.    


Related: Online Grocery Delivery Comparison: Is One of These Services Right for You?

Number of people queuing up in front of supermarket, grocery store, restaurant, business shops. Social distancing concept during Corona Virus - Covid 19 pandamic global situation

Arrows and Dots

Once you gained entry into those supermarkets, you would be confronted with arrows on the floors, one-way signs on the ends of aisles, constant reminders over the loudspeakers and yes, those "socially distanced" dots to stand on to ensure everyone was 6 feet apart. We do not question their effectiveness but are now noticing as they slowly disappear from stores, a sense of "the old days" is coming back.

Putting food on tourist plate. Serving dinner at restaurant in an all-inclusive resort in Turkey
Juliet Dreamhunter/istockphoto

Alternatives to Self-Service

No disrespect to hard-working restaurant employees, but I prefer to choose my own rolls or bagels, select my own salad bar fixings or order a pound of ham cut thin, the way I like it. So much food during the pandemic was pre-packed or you had to, literally, explain how much gravy to add to your hot-bar mashed potatoes. Sure, we love being served but sometimes, you just want to do it yourself.    

Related: These Buffet Chains Have Closed Locations Permanently

Empty shelves  at the grocery store / supermarket.

Empty Shelves

It's hard to forget the sheer sense of panic you felt when confronted with an entire aisle devoid of products. Shortages of toilet paper, paper towels, disinfecting wipes — and even random items from canned corn to flour — made us feel like we were living in another time or place. Unfortunately, some items still remain in short supply, in large part due to supply chain issues brought on by the pandemic.

Empty Shelves: Shop Sign Announcing Limit on Bath Tissue/Toilet Paper
Request sign at grocery store shop entrance Due to Shortages of Coins from Federal Reserve to use exact change or pay with credit debit contactless card

Payment Restrictions

For those who do not use debit cards or other forms of instant payment, the increase in places not accepting cash was disturbing. The same went for the "coin shortage," when you were told if you didn't have "exact change," then payment by card was required. Evidently, the day finally came when cash was not king.

Queens, New York, during the COVID-19 emergency
Massimo Giachetti/istockphoto

Food Bank Lines

Of course, we realize that dealing with supermarkets, lines and paying for goods was still something not to be taken for granted. Those who suddenly could not afford the essentials — and seeing how many families who suddenly found themselves in dire financial straits — were truly jarring. News reports of food bank lines were sobering. An unexpected aspect, though, was how much generosity and volunteerism was sparked.

Related: Where to Apply for Food Assistance in Every State

Netflix Subscription

Endless Streaming …

Anyone who ever complained when someone was loud at the Saturday night movie screening found themselves wishing for those "good old days." Sure, streaming services offered convenience and entertainment, but after a while, didn't you feel like you had seen everything you wanted to catch up on and longed for a first-run movie in the theater?

Zoom meeting
SDI Productions/istockphoto

Zoom Any – and Every – Thing

How many of us had ever heard of Zoom before the pandemic? What became the way to conduct business meetings, job interviews and even seminars and conferences soon turned into a clever way to host cocktail "parties" and even go on a first date. The virtual became viable, but we just hate the name, especially as it became a verb (and also reminded us how far away we are from that favorite childhood TV show).    

Related: Hacks and Tips for Video Chatting on Zoom, Hangouts, and More

Having a productive day

'Waist-Up' Jokes

Yes, we get it, you could wear your pajama bottoms (or not) when working from home. Countless commercials joked about going "pants-less." But even the funniest jokes get really annoying after the first few times. (But the "trend" also sparked coverage on how to look professional "from the waist up at least" when working from home, as featured in the Wall Street Journal).

Informing about virus online

The Rising Count

It was a perverse addiction, constantly checking the number of coronavirus cases and deaths that were constantly featured on CNN. It was horrifying, frightening … and on some days, just plain numbing. But didn't you wonder where those numbers went when they stopped the omnipresent graphic?

Granddaughter visit her grandmother through window

Window Visits

Visiting the elderly or immuno-compromised through the window is an experience no one wants to repeat. The need to stay separate was necessary but again, also utterly isolating, as so much during the pandemic has been. Did you ever realize how sitting across from someone having coffee was a simple pleasure not to be taken for granted?

NEW YORK CITY, MANHATTAN - MAY 02, 2020: Empty streets of New York during Corona Virus Epidemic

Eerily Empty Streets

During the height of the lockdowns, streets in small towns and large cities alike resembled ghost towns. Forget the commuters, the rush hours, just about any traffic, as things came to a literal standstill. In many parts of the world, even animals took note and roamed shopping centers and tourist hotspots. Of course, as things began to pick back up — we were right back there complaining about commuting, rush hours and the like.    

Related: 12 Places Nature Thrived as Humans Retreated During the Lockdown

Line of suburb homes each with a car parked in the driveway

Idle (Not Idling) Cars

Your car sitting in the driveway for days at a time became the norm. We had lots of time but really nowhere we could go. The tiny perks? Long drives (no stops) became a way to decompress, and some car insurance companies even offered refunds.     

Related: How Often You Really Need to Take Your Car in for Service

Asian boy student video conference e-learning with teacher and classmates on computer in living room at home. Homeschooling and distance learning ,online ,education and internet.

Remote Learning

School could not stop completely, of course, but remote learning was (and still is) a drain on students, families, teachers and everyone associated with the education system. Kids miss their friends. Parents miss their dining room tables!

work from home

WFH Required

Working from home, for those who never had the option before, was both a challenge and a bonus. Communication sometimes suffered. Colleagues missed going out to lunch together. A hybrid schedule, though, is something many employees now want to explore. It's said the workplace will never go back to what it was, so perhaps lessons will be learned.    

Related: Mobile Caddies and Other Storage Ideas For Your Home 'Office'

Student at a library choosing a book in the shelf, using face mask

The Library, by Appointment

Public libraries are community treasures. You walk in, browse, get a book or DVD, do research, sit and read a paper or even attend a lecture or listen to a live performance. Many libraries were able to shift to virtual offerings quickly, gradually offer curbside pickup and eventually, accepting "browse and grab" appointments. As they re-open, it's hard to imagine taking their services for granted ever again.

Family wishing Happy Birthday to a friend or relative from their car during an infectious disease epidemic. They are keeping social distancing and wearing protective masks

Drive-By Birthdays

Oh, the horns … drive-by birthday celebrations, graduation parades and welcome home from the hospital caravans were pervasive during the lockdown. You could wave, make a video — and keep your distance. They were as festive as they were sad, vivid reminders of how different life had become.

Sign for a Happy 16th Birthday

Oversize Lawn Signs

Having your birthday (be it a 10th or 65th) proclaimed on the front lawn with oversize displays became a very popular thing, as were giant banners honoring graduates. Again, it was a practice that encouraged community recognition but underscored just how apart we really were.

Alone on New year's eve

'Home for the Holidays,' Required

The 2020 holiday season was unlike any we ever experienced. Large gatherings were discouraged. Religious services were often virtual. Traveling back to your hometown was filled with risk. It was stressful, though we may have gained a new appreciation for what family and friends mean — and also for simpler celebrations moving forward.

Above view for yellow warning sign to maintain social distance distancing during covid-19 coronavirus outbreak with footsteps on street

Oh So Many Words…

Think back to 2019. Bet you didn't use words and phrases including pods, quarantine, variant, herd immunity, and ventilator on a regular basis. The onset of the coronavirus brought with it a whole new vocabulary. We're really ready to let it all go. And we'll be really glad if "social distancing" as a phrase really does one day disappear.    


Related: Pandemic Phrases That Have Infected Our Vocabulary

Hospital surgery corridor

Medical Phobia

Reports were plentiful of people delaying doctor visits during the pandemic. There were even people who thought they were having a heart attack but were too scared to consider the emergency room. While the pandemic put the medical field in the spotlight, it also created sheer fear of entering a healthcare facility for any reason. Telemedicine offered an option, but many simply stayed away.

Swings and public parks closed with plastic tapes with the text:

Closed Parks

One thing that preserved many a day's sanity was a walk. Even with your mask on, you could be outdoors, getting both fresh air and a welcome respite from the barrage of worrisome news. Then the parks closed, to prevent large gatherings and ensure safety. Neighborhood streets became the new walking paths in many suburbs.

Ready, Set, Bake!

Sourdough and Sheet Pans

The "quarantine 15" wasn't called that for nothing. People were cooking (or ordering in) at record clips, with food fads at every turn disrupting many a diet attempt. All you heard, ate or read about were sourdough starters and Dalgona coffee, sheet-pan meals and creative cocktails. Some learned new skills that we continue to develop, while others simply gained weight.

Related: 13 Ways the Pandemic Has Changed How We Eat in 2020

Digital artist drawing on digital table in his home studio

Elastic-Waist Wardrobe

Which came first? As mentioned, eating habits changed with weight gains leading to less-restrictive clothing; others simply felt no need to "dress up" for, well, any reason. If we never see sweatpants again, that would be fine. Sure, we savored the laid-back life — and added a few sweatshirt-inspired tops to our wardrobe — but oh, do we want to put on those nice clothes sitting sadly in our closet and go out into the world again.

Food blogger photographing sushi plate

Social Overload

Social media has been a constant for, well, it seems like ages — but during the pandemic, it went wild. People felt the need to post nonstop about everything from new recipes attempted to crafts made, from room renovations to inspirational words to the little puppy just adopted. Enough.

Mature Woman Is Exercising At Home And Using Cans Instead Of Weights

Makeshift Gyms

Lift that can of beans and give me 10. For those unable to get to the gym — and without a professional-style set-up of their own — makeshift exercise routines (and equipment) became popular. Points for creativity, but a return to structure will be welcome.

2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards
Rich Fury/Getty Images

Virtual Awards Shows

"In these uncertain times" — let's lose that phrase — we tuned in to far too many virtual shows. You want to give credit to those who tried to keep things going, but really, on the whole, it just didn't work. Awards shows featuring multiple locations, some stars in gowns and others in flannel and audience members inexplicably masked or unmasked, just added up to disorganized presentations that were more confusing than entertaining. Sometimes you just have to admit that some things don't adjust well. (Yes, this means you, Academy Awards 2021).     

Related: 29 Small-Budget Films That Went on to Win Oscars

Senior couple doing jigsaw puzzle together at home

Jigsaw Puzzles

Okay, hands up if you did more than one jigsaw puzzle during the pandemic. They were the go-to time-filler for so many people and became popular gifts. In fact, they became so popular there were shortages. Today, how many puzzles remain unfinished or simply left in their boxes?    

Related: 27 Things You Didn't Know About Jigsaw Puzzles

food delivery
Maksym Belchenko/istockphoto

Food-Delivery Services

Seamless, Grubhub, DoorDash and Slice are just a few of the food-delivery apps and services that blew up during the pandemic. Perhaps in the minority, I prefer the old-school "excitement" of parking outside and walking into the local pizzeria to pick up your Friday-night pepperoni pie.

Delivery courier using a smartphone while delivering a parcel

Trucks and Cardboard Boxes

For a time — a very long time — there were more delivery trucks on neighborhood streets than neighbors. Porches and front steps were piled with packages, as online shopping reached new heights of popularity (Retail Leader reported this past April that there was a $900 billion online shopping surge during the pandemic). Sure, it was fueled by the lack of bricks-and-mortar options coupled with convenience, but hitting the local indie shops and mom-and-pop establishments has a certain charm that we're ready to embrace once again.    

Related: Companies That Have Filed for Bankruptcy Since the Pandemic Began — and Which Ones Could Be Next

A Decent (or Horribly Gone Wrong) Haircut
Phynart Studio/istockphoto

DIY Haircuts and Dye Jobs

With salons and barbershops closed for so long, the DIY haircut, man bun, and silver hair were "the" looks of the day. Vanity was threatened, as were salon manicures and other spa treatments. We may now go longer between haircuts than before, but not many are tempted to take up the scissor themselves anytime soon.      

Related: The Most Important Thing to Do When Cutting Your Own Hair

Portrait of a senior woman wearing a protective face mask

Suspicious Eyes

The mask, bandana or neck gaiter gave new importance to the eyes — and sadly, many of those eyes we encountered too often were sad, suspicious or downright fearful. Life is far from perfect but we'd hate to think those expressions will remain after life finally gets "back to normal."

A 40-year-old woman wearing a protective mask is looking out of the window. Home quarantine for 14 days due to the coronavirus COVID-19 epidemic.

Sense of Uncertainty

No one likes to feel out of control. It can be a part of a random day, but this extended period of uncertainty really did a number on people. It's fine to say we learned lessons about how little power we truly have and such, but we are really ready to give up living with such a strong sense of uneasiness and return to a more balanced life.