I knew it, I knew it, I just knew it … so they closed the coffee place. I hadn’t even recycled my paper cup from Monday when I saw the online notice that night. Foiled. Even though I passed right by my friendly barista on the street on Sunday, when she assured me they would be doing takeout for the foreseeable future.

Instead, I went to the local bagel shop, another neighborhood haunt. I picked up a dozen bagels for dinner (defrosted the lox last night), but stared for a minute when I first got there. Right. St. Patrick’s Day for some in the world. (Hard to believe that last Tuesday, we were celebrating Purim.) For me, it meant plain bagels in a bright shade of kelly-green. The nice young woman at the counter gave me the big brown bag and must have felt sorry for me in my slightly confused state, and handed me a large cup. The coffee was on her.

See?! People can be so nice in dire times.

My first home-schooling lesson went well—at least, after my two elementary-schoolers insisted I was wrong, completely wrong. We were practicing cursive writing, something that has sadly been neglected or not even taught at all in schools anymore.

I showed them the letters, and they said, “No! That’s not cursive!” I blinked. “It is,” I said, then pointed to the tiny print at the bottom of the laminated page: “Cursive Writing Made Fun and Easy,’ Scholastic Professional Books.”

But it’s not, they insisted. I turned the shiny sheet over and bingo. “There it is!” they cried.

They were looking at the lowercase letters. Apparently, they didn’t even know that capitals came into play, too.

It’s gonna be a long week.

The tongue-twisters went better. “Bobby buys bananas and bites broccoli” (third-grader). “Adrian axed apples accidentally in Arizona” (fifth-grader). Not bad.

Now on to a creative contest sent by (the blessed) summer-camp staff, due by Sunday. “Pesach is special because … ” It can be a picture, poem, essay, story, video or 3-D model. OK, I can work with that.

Meanwhile, I decided to drop off a window screen at the hardware store late Sunday afternoon that got torn in a recent windstorm (even upgraded to the more protective fiberglass as opposed to metal screen). Since the coronavirus picked the warm weather to visit us, the least I can do is open windows and get the cross breezes going. I hesitated just a bit when leaving it, thinking if the store closes for the next month, good-bye semi-ventilation.

Not 12 hours later, I got a message. “Hi, there … your screen is ready.” Now, that’s service.

I’m going to drink to that with the last few drops of my free Joe.

Carin M. Smilk is the managing editor of JNS.

This Reporter’s Notebook will appear starting on March 16 until the end of the month (or when schools reopen).

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