When I headed to the local H-E-B last week for milk and fresh produce, I expected chaos created by public concerns about the new coronavirus disease COVID-19. What I got was mostly calmness, courtesy and efficiency. The store was busy. Conditions were far from perfect, and, yes, bleach and toilet paper were already gone. But employees seemed to be everywhere, restocking shelves, greeting and guiding shoppers.


Two employees at the entrance made sure those arriving with empty shopping carts didn’t run into those leaving with full carts. All checkout registers were open, each with a cashier and bagger. Another employee directed traffic, calmly lining up shoppers ready to check out in the wide center aisle to avoid traffic jams. As a register cleared, she directed the next person in line to it.


A young woman shopper ahead of me thanked the grocery traffic cop for her work and suggested that H-E-B could teach the federal government a thing or two. When I thanked her too, she replied, “We’re just doing our jobs.”


The more I pondered it, the more I realized the shopper was right: President Donald Trump and his bumbling administration could learn from H-E-B and other businesses that quickly adapted to the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. No whining. No lying. No bullying. No foot-dragging. No passing the buck. Just doing their jobs.


We can't predict when a crisis will occur, but when it does we can reasonably expect our president to be a leader. For years, many of us feared Trump would botch a national crisis. Our worst fears have come true. Trump mishandled the coronavirus crisis from the start, first downplaying it despite early warnings from U.S. intelligence officials, then responding ineptly and putting lives at risk.


Trump showed he couldn’t lead an army of ants to a picnic. A real leader immediately would have told the public the unfettered truth rather than constantly lying. A leader would have sought to calm and reassure us by showing empathy and compassion, rather than putting himself and his reelection first. A leader would have let the science/health professionals run the government’s response to the pandemic instead of making it political. A leader would have taken responsibility, instead of claiming the buck stopped elsewhere.


Given Trump’s many ludicrous statements about the coronavirus, I can’t figure how anyone can believe or trust him ever again. Consider these examples:


• Jan. 22 – “We have it (coronavirus) totally under control. It’s one person coming from China ...”


• Feb. 24 – “The coronavirus is very much under control in the USA … Stock market starting to look very good to me!”


• Feb. 28 – The coronavirus is a “hoax” perpetuated by the Democrats (campaign speech).


• March 4 – “So if, you know, we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work – some of them go to work, but they get better.”


• March 5 – “I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.”


• March 6 – “Anybody that wants a test (for coronavirus) can get a test” (as of Tuesday that still was not the case).


• March 17 – “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”


• March 18 – The coronavirus “snuck up on us.” It was a “very unforeseen thing.”


• March 19 – “We’re not a shipping clerk.” (Response to requests by governors for federal help in obtaining medical supplies/equipment).


Thanks to businesses like H-E-B, health care professionals and others working hard to keep this country running and keeping people safe, America will survive this crisis. No thanks to the human plague named Trump.