I remember the moment in April when the whole weight of this COVID-19 pandemic started to sit with me. My two kids, one in kindergarten and the other in preschool, were both trying to do remote learning. Let me tell you that Microsoft Teams + children under 10 = chaos. There was a moment when I joked with a buddy of mine that “April was the longest year ever”. I recently received a promotion to manager at my company and was leading a team right when the pandemic hit. I was having to lead a new team fully remotely and I was missing my work colleagues. I wasn’t able to visit with family or friends. It was a season of pretty deep loneliness.
The importance of community and fellowship is something that really because totally apparent during this time of quarantine and lockdown. Before the pandemic, I considered myself more of a “social introvert”. I loved being around people, but really needed to be by myself to recharge. When the pandemic hit, and local governments started shutting things down, I soon realized that I am far more extroverted than I thought. My wife teases me because she always knew this. The fact that my favorite hobby involves communicating with other people should have seemed like a no brainier.
I run a social net in my local area for the Radio Club of Tacoma on the first Tuesday evening on the month. When I started doing the social net, it took some time for folks to get into it, but when the pandemic hit, it really took off. I believe that in our core, even those who are introverted desire human contact. It’s been jokingly said that ham radio was the “original socially distanced hobby”. In my time as net control operator and participating in nets on HF, I have seen more and more people get on the air who previously would just sit and listen. I find this encouraging for two reasons. First, I’d hope I could facilitate a space where folks feel comfortable enough to jump in. Second, it’s encouraging to see that people are finding connection through on-the-air fellowship with other hams.
If there was any advice to give other hams out there is just to get out there on the radio. In the evenings, I’ll often hop on 40m and just call CQ. A part of me still gets a few butterflies in the stomach doing so but it’s such a joy when somebody comes back. A few weeks ago, I had a random ragchew with a ham in South Dakota. We were talking for about ten minutes when we heard somebody jump in with his callsign. It was a gentleman in Montana who was listening to us and wanted to join. The three of us continued to talk for over 45 minutes until the band conditions changed. This was a highlight of my week and I look forward to chatting with my new friends sometime soon.
We need people during this time and ham radio is a great place to connect with others. Get on the air and throw you call out; you never know who is wanting to chat with you!