Tom Schlinkman

Tom Schlinkman holding his grocery list. He couldn’t find most of the items at grocery stores, but he did locate toilet paper in an off-the-beaten-path Dollar General.

The coronavirus pandemic has left us all in uncharted waters, with no horizon in sight. But with businesses and schools closed, national pastimes on hold, and the traditional flow of life ground to a halt, one thing’s for sure:  We’re carrying on. With new worries and “social distancing” habits, but also with new perspectives and priorities. We're sharing several of your personal stories.

Tom Schlinkman

Tom Schlinkman is a neighbor’s neighbor. Even when there’s no pandemic, he’s always available to lend a hand. But in these new uncertain times, he’s right there, knocking on your door at 9 a.m. to tell you where to find toilet paper because he knows you didn't beat the masses to the shelves.

“It’s one thing to have a one-to-two-month supply, but a year’s supply?" he says. "And to know it’s going to hurt other people? It’s disgusting.”

If the paper goods run out, he's not too concerned. There's always what the "old-timers" did, he says, which is use a rag and submit to more loads of laundry, or take a shower after you do your business.

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He’s not panicking, but after his 53 years on the planet, he knows human behavior.

“People freak out, which causes other people to freak out,” he says. “It causes people to get hurt.”

Everything will come back, he believes, including the stock market, and "with a vengeance."

Older folks are the ones we should all look to. They’ve seen crises come and go, and understand they have pretty much no control over what happens. All they can do is surrender and make the best out of it.

“Things that happen in life will be good and bad,” he says, “and you can be responsible for you and your neighbors.”

Schlinkman is staying busy while the pandemic grasps us all in its meaty fist. He’s busy fixing up his turn-of-the-century house near downtown so he can put it on the market and move to California, where his husband patiently waits.

There's more than enough to keep him busy, but he understands others might be in for a challenging time.

“Find a hobby. Find out who you are,” he says. “It’s a good time for reflection. Heal yourself. Relax and watch what’s going on around you.”

Whatever you’re doing to weather this storm, The Gazette wants to know. Send an email to, and include a selfie if you can.

Contact the writer: 636-0270

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