Surviving adversity with the best of weapons

“The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter.”

—Humorist Mark Twain

I’m convinced that times of adversity call for three weapons. They are faith, a positive attitude, and the weapon that Mark Twain pegged when he penned the words above: humor.

Certainly, times of adversity abound as news of a worldwide virus about which little is known and for which there is no vaccine has the human race in a panic. Admittedly, it’s confusing and scary with conflicting messages about the illness and how bad it could be. It also doesn’t help when the mainstream media, like it does with many facets of life today, politicizes what information is available. But, I digress.

Going straight to the best yardstick available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported as of Friday March, 20, 2020COVID-19 (the official name for “coronavirus) cases in the U.S. to be 15,219 and total deaths at 201 with the number of jurisdictions reporting cases at 54 (50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and US Virgin Islands). Updates are posted every weekday at noon at

For updates on adversity, one need look no farther than the daily expansion of social distancing and the increasing numbers of businesses closing or restricting hours. In the stores that remain open, you will find the masses buying according to perceived concepts on where this pandemic will take us.

Make no mistake, the potential for serious adversity imposed by this virus is very real. But the best weapon for easing the current tension is being created by the hoarding hysteria prompting crazy consumer habits. It’s truly a classic dose of Mark Twain’s touted humor.

Making the weekly pantry restocking trip last week, I found the more highly trafficked aisles in town stripped of many items, especially my targeted item of anything resembling bottled water. A trip down the street to the aisles less traveled found four one-gallon containers labeled as “Nursery Purified” water sitting all alone on a long stretch of floor-to-ceiling empty shelving. Deciding that water for babies was as healthy as any, I complied with the store’s posted limits of two per customer thereby depleting half their remaining inventory.

A couple of minutes later found me in the checkout line behind a customer carting boxes of beef jerky, cases of canned soup, and a bushel of bananas. I smiled wondering whether this motivated consumer had considered what she was going to do when every one of her half-a-buggy of bananas all reached the ripened state at the exact same time.

I was still smiling when a neighbor fell in line behind me and a conversation on comparisons of observed shopping hysteria ensued. Mid-stream in one sentence, her eyes focused toward my items as she asked, “Do you have news that you want to share?”

Scanning my scant collection of one bleach spray, some sparkling water and two gallons of bottled water, my mind struggled for clues. Nodding, she added with a smile on her face and a question in her tone, “Nursery water?”

“Oh that,” I laughed. “No, no news and no danger … the only news is that’s the only bottled water of any kind left on the shelf.” My smile grew wider at the thought of the old timer’s saying, “that’s caused by something in the water,” having been why this was the only water left behind.

Social media has left nothing behind in fulfilling its role of heightening tension and diversity levels in just about everything while occasionally interjecting some humor . The best example of the latter was the lady attending a luncheon hosted by a friend who had expressed concern prior to the event about running low on toilet tissue. So, what did this kindhearted and creative soul with a sense of humor do? She took an appreciation gift to the luncheon hostess: a roll of tissue discretely wrapped and tucked into a gift bag.

Were he here today, Mark Twain would have no doubt loved the luncheon lady and also favored my friend who offered the following thoughts after marveling at the shopping mayhem.

“The Bible says in Mark chapter 13,” she offered regarding the end of time, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”

“In His wisdom,” she continued, “God knew that if He were to announce the date and the hour, we’d be overrun by panicky people in line trying to gas up cars overloaded with bottled water and toilet paper.”

—Leon Aldridge

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Aldridge columns are published in these Texas newspapers: The Center Light and Champion, the Mount Pleasant Tribune,  the Rosenberg Fort Bend Herald, the Taylor Press, and the Alpine Avalanche.

© Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Leon Aldridge and A Story Worth Telling with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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