Same Storm, Different Boats

Together, But Different

One of the most often-repeated phrases during the months we have been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic is “we are all in this together.”  While that is true to a certain extent, everyone experiences and interprets this strange time differently.  One unknown author used this metaphor to capture this idea: While we may all be in the same storm, we are all in different boats.  

The Economic Situation

The ways in which each of us is experiencing the shelter in place order and business closures depends largely on our individual economic situation.  If our livelihood has been affected, that is obviously going to affect how we view the situation as a whole.  Many restaurant owners, restaurant workers, and self-employed small business owners have taken a disastrous financial hit.  When you are worried about losing a business you have worked hard to build, or even paying rent and feeding your family, that likely going to be the overriding worry – beyond the number of new virus cases recorded each day.

Other businesses have been able to keep employees working but have had to resort to cuts in pay.  Still, other Sacramentans have experienced a loss of income due to their sales commissions disappearing.  

On the other hand, with the $600 in federal benefits bolstering state unemployment payments, many who have lost their jobs are actually bringing in more money than they did while employed.  

Stuck at Home

For some of us, sheltering at home has been different, but pleasant.  It may have meant more quality family time, more home-cooked meals, the ability to work from home, and more time for quiet self-reflection.

That certainly is not the case for everyone.  Some live in abusive homes, and for them, school and/or work was an escape.  Some families are food insecure and relied on school breakfasts and lunches for their children’s nutritional needs.  Some parents are working full-time from home and have had the added duty of taking care of kids or homeschooling during those same stressful hours.  Some of us live alone and have reached the outer limit of our ability to withstand solitude.

The Virus Itself

Sacramento has not had the same terrible experience as New York or some other cities in terms of dealing with sickness and death caused by the coronavirus.  Our shelter in place order went into effect quickly, and we have not seen a high number of cases.  While this is remarkably good news, it has led some people to believe that the extended business closures and requests to wear masks are overreactions.  

The media has been a study in contrast for many years, and often what you see on TV are the extremes.  We have all witnessed displays of protestors with strange signs, demanding to be able to “get a haircut,” and we have also seen body bags piled up in New York City.

Notice the Different Boats

We all have a choice: we can react to the strangeness of this pandemic solely through the filter of our own personal experiences, or we can use this time to practice our ability to empathize with others.  If you are lucky enough to be sheltering in place on a metaphorical yacht (or an actual yacht), enjoying your family and exploring new Door Dash options, think of the other vessels afloat in this uncertain sea:  Before judging someone for expressing opinions that contradict your own, notice the different boats.  Remember that some of your fellow humans are trying to bail out of a rickety barge that is taking on water, or clinging to a chunk of wood, just trying to stay afloat.  

Below is a video of a Ted Talk about practicing empathy.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer 

I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento. I have worked on behalf of injured Sacramentans for more than 38 years.  My law firm focuses on compassion and empathy towards our clients. If you are seeking free and friendly advice, call us at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

Photo Attribution: Chastagner Thierry @

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