If you have read a newspaper or turned on a television set in the last 60 days you know we find ourselves in a “new normal” in which seemingly everything has changed. Life for me has become a game of figuring out how to come out on top of the ubiquitous stress, anxiety, and depression. For some folks this is easier than others, some days are better and some are worse. Some days there is so much to look forward to, while others it is all about how to get through and make it back home. As an attempt to process all that it is “being essential,” and the things that come along with it here at Baxter, I hope you can feel like you are not alone or that there may be a day left brighter by the idea that it could be worse.
It has not been easy, but every day I am fortunate to wake up and report to work. Many are not as lucky and for this I am grateful and appreciative, but also sad for my coworkers and friends that are dealing with a different set of circumstances than I. This time of year should be our busiest, with a huge increase in production, preparing for the Great Falls Brew Fest, Summer events, and new recipes. This just is not the case. We are brewing anywhere from 120 barrels to 240 barrels a week, which is a good amount of beer but only one-third of what I wish we were producing. I miss the stress and magic of being an integral part of making it all work, keeping our fans’ thirst quenched and looking to tackle the next obstacle.
Coming out of our rebrand riding into the excitement of Reggae Fest and the Free Jacks season I felt confident that we were on the brink of our best Summer yet. And then it happened. This thing that we can’t see, can’t feel, can’t prevent, or stop. Our world was turned upside down, changed forever.
We have been able to adapt to the best of our abilities; we now offer curbside pickups and even delivery. Of course, with less staff and new processes that means work has changed and tasks take more out of each of us because we know we are fighting to keep it all together. It has been remarkable to see our team rise to the challenge and I am proud of what we have accomplished up to this point. I want to be the leader who sets a good example and is strong for our team and this brand, but there is also the pull to talk about the devastation.
Personally, I am losing my mind not having much social interaction. I am missing out on my favorite time of year. My snowboarding season was cut short and I had to miss one of my favorite parties of the year with my Sunday Funday friends; The Beach Bash at Lost Valley. I haven’t thrown a disc into a basket in a long time, and it feels like the weather has matched the general mood of isolation and sadness. I haven’t spent much time outside of my living space. I have been concerned about my father, his lack of work, and the possibility of me unknowingly giving him a virus I may or may not be carrying. I guess this is what they call depression.
I shaved my beard because it felt like something I could control, and I purchased a new computer because my 14-year-old laptop finally gave out on me after years of abundant use. The positive thoughts I continually revisit are: I wake up in the morning without the virus; I have friends, coworkers, and family that have only been minimally affected; I know that things will continue to get better. These thoughts keeps me going.
Whether this falls on one of your good days or bad, just keep your head up. I will leave you all with the wise words of a gentle redheaded giant (if you have been a Baxter fan for a while you have seen him before): “This too shall pass”. We are not in the clear yet, but we are certainly doing our best to work through it. Keep your heads held high, Baxter fans. I have missed you and will miss you on the gator this year, but I know we will find a chance to have beers together again sometime soon
*Ed. Note: Group photo was taken before implementation of social distancing measures