This morning, my sister and I dropped by one of our neighborhood favorites, Arsicault, to pick up some croissants. The line there was always long, even before COVID-19. Like many other businesses, Arsicault had markers drawn in chalk to make sure folks stayed socially distant while in line. Today, I noticed that the markers had gotten an upgrade:
Change is hard under normal circumstances, and these times are obviously far from normal. I’m moved and inspired by how quickly small businesses, especially food providers, have adapted to these challenging times. I’ve also watched with curiosity the journeys many restaurants have taken and the hard choices they’ve had to make, from adapting their menus to adopting online ordering software to building outdoor dining spaces to drawing socially distant line markers. How have they decided which changes to make, when to make them, and how far to take them? How have they dealt with change fatigue on top of struggling to survive?
I don’t know how Arsicault’s painted line markers came about, but as I pondered them, I was reminded of a conversation I had with my friends, Sarah and William, several years ago. I was explaining to them that much of my work boils down to helping groups navigate change fatigue. William listened quietly, nodding thoughtfully as I talked, then said, “I know how your clients feel. When we first moved into our house, I fixed everything I saw that was broken. After about a month, I stopped. It’s not that I thought I had fixed everything. I see the same broken things every day, and they bother me just as much as they did the first time I saw them. Real life just caught up to me — family, work. It’s just exhausting trying to keep up.”
His story resonated both personally and professionally. In my own life, I have a long list of things I know I need to do, but I can’t ever seem to muster the energy to do them. Similarly, many of the groups I work with know exactly what needs to change in their organization, but they’re so exhausted just keeping things up and running, even taking a small step seems daunting.
Maybe painting line markers will save the good folks at Arsicault time in the long run, since they won’t have to redraw their chalk markings regularly. Maybe they just wanted something that looked better. All I know is that simply painting those lines while trying to survive in these challenging times must have been exhausting. I appreciate them and all of the local businesses doing their best to stay alive while also trying to keep their customers safe.