Counting down things I miss that COVID-19 took from me

“Taco Tuesday” at the local Taco Bell is a long-standing tradition for Sellers, whether he’s picking up a snack for himself or doing a fast-food lunch run for himself and colleagues. Photo by Thomas Sellers Jr.

Throughout April and May I tried to hold onto most of life as I knew it prior to March 11.
Several things out of my control were taken away or postponed because of the local, state and federal governments. Stay-at-home orders became the way of life to combat COVID-19/coronavirus.

And this so-called vacation for the children was meaningless because they had to learn at home and couldn’t go anywhere fun because parks and gaming places were closed.

Here is a confession: I did like not the ruckus of the little children at the park near the playground. It was a little peaceful without the rug rats roaming the grounds.

But deep down inside there is a part of me that missed that, too. Throughout the safer-at-home orders across the United States, there was so much to miss, like going to work for more than 20 million Americans.

Those on the front line battling COVID-19 missed the days of a normal pace and procedure in the hospital. And of course those who lost a loved one to this disease missed that person.

As life slipped away, family and friends missed out on holding their hands, being by that person’s side or simply saying goodbye in person.

Throughout this ordeal we have missed many serious and life-altering things. But this Best Sellers’ List is about those everyday happenings I took for granted. The coronavirus has managed to make me miss 10 things that I thought I wouldn’t in a million years.

10. Hospital waiting room

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, hospitals have not allowed patients’ family members to step inside the facility. Whether it is a broken arm or routine checkup, only the patient could enter the doors of the hospital.

Waiting rooms used to be a structure of boring doom. It would be several hours of trying to get comfortable in a chair while someone you are connected to is receiving medical attention.

When your patient returned to the waiting room between procedures, you were there to keep them encouraged and company.

It must have been scary for people who didn’t even have COVID-19 issues to go to a hospital alone. We shouldn’t take going into a hospital to comfort our loved one for granted again.

9. 2020 election coverage

While pandemics have no schedule arrival dates, we know in U.S. America we elect a president every four years. Every leap year we look forward to the Summer Olympics and all the layers that go with a presidential election.

All was going smooth with debates, primaries and polls. The party now in power was attacking itself and the sitting president. The typical election year headlines were all over the newspapers, TV broadcasts and websites.

Coronavirus has pushed the news of Joe Biden winning the Democratic nomination to the back pages. President Donald Trump is currently under the microscope of the COVID-19, which, if he gets a passing grade, will get him reelected.

But I pray if I am around in 2024, it’s just a normal election year and doesn’t get swallowed in another pandemic.

8. Walking into my gym tired

Three days out of the week, I wake up at 4:55 a.m. to head to the gym to get my workout over for the day. I used to dread walking into 901 Fitness and heading up those stairs to the cardio area. There a treadmill and stair climber waited on me to give my heart a jolt of energy.

By the end of April, I was praying for those days to return. Won’t take that for granted ever again. OK, I will be dreading it again after a week back in the routine.

7. Walking straight into Sam’s Club

The Sam’s Club located off Covington Pike in Memphis has featured lines outside since mid-April. The establishment only allows about 100 shoppers into the building at one time.

Only 25 people at a time?

Those with a Sam’s or Costco membership pay the annual fee to have perks and special privileges. You want to get things in bulk at your convenience. COVID-19 put an end to that because we needed social distancing.

I stood in a line for 45 minutes in April just to renew my membership. There were a few moments I questioned myself and wanted to leave. But as I saw so many people with masks on their faces, I realized so many other people are making real sacrifices during this pandemic.

I just pulled out my phone and played a few games until I was in the next group of 25.

6. Barbershop chats

I know women miss the beauty salon. And we fellas were longing to get back into the barbershop for a groom and gab session.

Topics range from sports and politics to family and the opposite sex. Debates are not an every-four-years venture. The passion on display to defend a point is testosterone on steroids.

After that exercise in brotherhood, you get to leave with more contacts in your phone, a good laugh, some wisdom and normally a great haircut.

5. Goofy commercials

Right now I challenge you to turn on your TV, tablet, laptop or phone without seeing a somber commercial related to COVID-19.

Companies have adjusted to the current culture of coronavirus. “We’re here with you.” “We salute you who are on the frontline.” “We’ll work with you doing these troubling times.” “We are strong.”

Thank God we have a few moments of an advertisement that is centered around comedy and trying to make us laugh.

Maybe next year if we have a Super Bowl, all the commercials will go for straight humor instead of having a political agenda. I can’t wait until we can get back to laughing at these ads and have 30 seconds to escape reality.

4. Sports on TV

This pandemic canceled or modified in March, April and May the events listed below:

  • Kentucky Derby
  • The Masters
  • NCAA Basketball tournaments
  • NBA Playoffs
  • NHL Playoffs
  • MLB opener
  • Frozen Four
  • NFL Draft
  • College Baseball postseason
  • TSSAA Spring Fling

You just got a Worst Sellers’ List in the middle of a Best Sellers’ List.

3. Hugs

I’m a hugger. Especially if I haven’t seen you in a while, I’m coming in for an embrace. From church to work, I’ve been reduced to elbow bumps.

My soul can’t take all this distancing and limitations. But I have to respect this disease and the personal space of my loved ones.

OK, another confession: I have hugged about 10 people since March. I missed them, and the energy led to a full hug. One case was an athlete I covered 13 years ago with his wife and daughter. Another situation was a church member I haven’t seen in a year. I pray we get a strong vaccine for this coronavirus so I won’t look so insensitive and careless hugging.

2. TMZ exposing celebrities

One trend I hate during the height of quarantine was bored celebrities inviting me into their mega mansions.

These people with all the essentials on their property wanted to keep us encouraged, make us laugh, show us how they look without makeup.

They started singing and issuing silly challenges to each other. They did raise some money, but they could have done that by passing around a bucket in their own neighborhood.

I guess with the famous stuck at home, the paparazzi had nothing to case. TMZ could have been put out of business. But since celebrities live for attention, thrive off of it and need it to be relevant, they gave TMZ subject matter throughout the pandemic.

Can’t wait to get back to the cat-and-mouse game so it can at least feel like the famous were chased down to be placed on camera.

1. Walking into a Taco Bell to order

Anybody who has been around me since 2005 knows Tuesday is Taco Bell Tuesday. For years I could leave the office during lunch and drive to my local Taco Bell to place my order inside. Whether it was ice on the ground or 120 degrees outside, I got out of my car to make my order.

It gave me a chance to talk to the staff, make multiple orders and relax for a second before heading back to the office to finish deadline.

But weeks of having to go to Taco Bell and use the drive-thru makes my soul sad.

We have learned to not to take big things for granted during this pandemic. And I’m sure I am not the only one missing those things I used to curse or not even give a second thought about.

THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for West 10 Media/Magic Valley Publishing. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to