I’ve purposely stayed away from the topic of COVID-19, but I could write about coronavirus.
I could write about how it was a dark shadow over my company from February through June.
In typical Pete Schopen fashion, I was going to write lyrics for a song called “Pete Didn’t Start Corona,” set to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized this would be inappropriate because real people were dying and real people’s lives were being ruined.
I could write about the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) process.
I could write about quarantining two of my employees because they showed symptoms, although neither had the virus.
I could write about meeting with my human resources guy frequently, trying to figure out worst-case scenarios.
I could write about canceling my trip to see my mom in Nebraska because she was scared to death to see my family and inadvertently spread the virus.
I could write about Schopen Pest Solutions functioning in a state (Illinois) that had the toughest stay-at-home orders in the country.
I could write about the tidal wave of reschedules, skips and cancellations that occurred during April, May and June. We lost approximately 20 percent of our business due to people losing their jobs or just being terrified of COVID-19.
I could write about frantically trying to find toilet paper in March when our governor quarantined our state. I had gloves, masks, hand sanitizers, disinfectants, soap and chemicals, but no TP for my employees.
I could write about how I was also feeding off the media-led panic attack and buying boxes of canned goods, storing them at my office.
I could write about how giddy I felt buying gas at $1.29 per gallon, but feeling guilty later on knowing that Americans were losing their jobs and businesses because of the low gas prices.
I could write about my obsession with WorldOMeters.info/coronavirus. I checked the stats daily all spring, completely mesmerized by the growing numbers.
FOUND MY INSPIRATION
Instead, I want to thank my employees for handling this crisis with true grace under pressure. No one asked for more money. No one asked for days off. No one complained about not being able to hang out or mingle (for nearly three months!).
Three of my employees have sons who work for me. None of them asked for special privileges or required me to “protect” their boys any more than what I was doing for my other employees.
I want to thank my banker, Chris Marrs at Cornerstone Bank in Crystal Lake, Ill., who encouraged and helped guide me through the PPP process. He was working 20-hour days in April, yet always had time to answer my questions.
I want to thank Brian Solomon and Melon Ink Screen Print, Lake Zurich, Ill., for making the coolest face masks in the world! Brian took my order and had our logoed masks delivered within seven days.
I want to thank former employee Phil Ference, who tipped me off to a wholesaler who had hand sanitizer early on during the pandemic. When many people were scrambling to try and find disinfectants and sanitizers, Schopen Pest Solutions was well stocked.
I want to thank my Facebook pest control friends who openly discussed their struggles to find masks, equipment, sanitizers, banks for PPP, etc. We truly are a fraternity, a family.
I want to thank my Queen, Tami Schopen, for listening to all of my crazy ideas each day and talking me off the ledge each night. None of my employees knew the pressure I felt each day, but my wife did.
Most of all I want to thank God, who guided me through this crisis and kept my family, business and employees healthy.
By the time you read this, I hope we aren’t still walking around with masks on. I hope we aren’t still doing curbside pickup at restaurants. I hope bar, restaurant, service and retail employees are all back to work. I hope Schopen Pest Solutions is stronger and healthier than ever, and that you are, too.
Schopen is owner and founder of Schopen Pest Solutions, McHenry, Ill. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach him via Twitter: @schopenpest; Instagram: @peteschopen; or Facebook: Schopen Pest Solutions, Inc.