Be in the driver's seat

Unemployment, staying positive, my mom's advice, a new feature, and 7 other things worth your time. All on a Saturday.

It’s the weekend, so this is a special Saturday edition. But I really just had to write today.

The unemployment numbers are out. They’re not good, to put it lightly. Perhaps we can hope that it’s temporary, but a lot of people are hurting. A lot of people are worried.

I'm working to stay positive, and I've also been thinking about some great advice my mom has given me repeatedly over the years. Since, it's Mother's Day tomorrow, I wanted to share it.

This all dates back to high school, and when I was home summers in college. Every time my mom saw me heading out the door, she'd say some version of the same thing:

Either, "Be in the driver's seat," or else, "Remember who comes first."

Of course, it was in one ear and out the other when I was 17 or 19 years old. But I'm a lot older now, and I've reflected on it many, many times.

The “driver's seat” line was both literal and figurative.

She knew I didn't drink alcohol back then, and that I was a good, careful driver. So she'd rather that I were the one driving, with other people in my car, instead of riding with others.

But also, it meant: Don't be a follower. Stay true to yourself. Don't let other people's dumb ideas get you into trouble.


“Remember who comes first” was similar; maybe a little bit different. Or at least, I've expanded it since then.

Think of when you're on an airplane, and the flight attendant says that if you're traveling with a child, and the cabin loses pressure and the masks drop down, you need to put your mask on first.

You have to put yourself first, otherwise, you won't be in a position to help anyone else.

I know it’s hard for a lot of people to feel like you’re in the driver’s seat right now. There are a lot of things we can't control. (Remember: It’s not your fault.)

But, you can make your own decisions. You can be true to yourself. You can make taking care of yourself a priority—not just for selfish reasons, but so you’re in a position to lend a hand to the others who really need it.

(Thanks for the advice, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day. I love you.)

The good news is...

Note: I'm trying a new feature today, based on a reader’s suggestion. I want to try to highlight at least one pure, good news story in Understandably—one reason for hope. I feel like we need these now.

So, meet Nathaniel Moore, a Vermont physician assistant who was also finishing up his MBA, and who realized that the graduation gowns worn by college and high school seniors (even in virtual ceremonies) could be recycled as personal protective equipment for health workers.

"The image of my colleagues on the front line … wearing trash bags with no sleeves and no protection under the waist, that just struck me," Moore, 30, who also plans to begin medical school in the fall, told Reuters.

Gowns worn backwards, with the zippered opening in the rear and the high collar in the front, fit the CDC requirements for covering “critical zones,” including forearms, chests, stomach and waistline, Moore said.

So he launched a charity: Gowns4Good, which now has 81,000 requests for gowns from medical facilities. They've collected just over 5,000 individual donations, and another 1,500 from corporate partners.

The most poignant gifts, according to Reuters, are gowns donated by parents whose children had died years ago, before they had a chance to graduate.

"It's the gown that has been sitting in their closet collecting dust but is too sentimental to do anything with," Moore said. Until now.

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7 other things worth your time

  • The U.S. unemployment numbers hit a Depression-era level of 14.7%. But, let’s add the hopeful note that about 75 percent of those who've been laid off "consider their job loss temporary," the result of businesses being required to close. (Associated Press)

  • If the economy is terrible, why is the stock market so high? 5 possible reasons, in summary:

    1. Investors are betting on a "V-shaped" recovery.

    2. It's being pulled up by a small percentage of high-performing stocks.

    3. Investors are factoring out low corporate earnings.

    4. There isn't much else to invest in, if you have money looking for home.

    5. The Fed keeps making it clear it will step in. (The Wall Street Journal, $)

  • Facebook and Google have now both announced that mos employees can work from home until 2021. (The Verge)

  • Restaurants expect to lose $240 billion by the end of the year, but for Grubhub, “COVID-19 is a net tailwind.” (Buzzfeed News)

  • The NFL announced its full 2020 schedule, and on paper it looks unaffected by Covid-19. Insiders say the hope is to play at least Week 1, and then reassess. (NBC Sports)

  • Two staffers who interact regularly with the president and vice-president have now tested positive for Covid-19. (The Hill)

  • California announced it will send a mail-in ballot to every registered voter in the state in advance of the November election. (TechCrunch)

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