A few days ago I received an e-mail from my boss. Attached in that e-mail is a document.

For all intents and purposes, that piece of paper gives me a free pass to roam across the countryside now that the current COVID-19 pandemic has led to a stay at home order.

I printed off a copy of the document which I am supposed to put in my car. The pass indicates that I classify as an essential worker.

So, what does that really mean?

I found one definition that said one deemed essential is a key worker in the public or private sector who provides an essential service.

No, that did not help me either.

The word essential means “absolutely necessary” or at least “extremely important.” So, to be an essential worker means you are absolutely critical to ensuring the public has what it needs.

You may recall during government shutdowns only those workers classified essential were going to work.

So, the question I am asking myself is whether or not I should actually be called “essential.”

I’m just not sure that is a word I would use.

Let me explain.

When the March 19 edition of The Redwood Gazette went to the printer March 18 and I wrapped up other tasks for the day, I loaded up and went home. With the exception of couple of brief stopovers to pick up a couple of things I forgot, I have not been back to the office.

That’s right. I am working from home and have been for more than a week now.

In the meantime, there are other people who work at the Gazette who are still going to the office every day. Although the doors are locked, they are the ones who are dealing directly with the public and are holding down the fort. There are not many of them there right now, so I ask you to be patient with them.

I want to thank Peggy, Paul, Ben, Faythe and Marie for what they are doing while I sit in my makeshift office in the corner of my living room. To alleviate some of their work, I am asking you to contact me directly with any ideas you want to share.

You can send me an e-mail at tkrause@redwoodfallsgazette.com, or give me a call at (507) 591-0957. (Yes, that is a cell phone number. Drastic times call for drastic measures. Just don’t get used to it long-term.)

I also want to thank all of you who are performing what I would call true essential tasks. Thanks to those of you in the health care industry and to law enforcement and other emergency response personnel who continue to conduct business as usual while many of the rest of us are staying home.

Thanks to the people who continue to stock the shelves at local stores and to the education staff who are making it possible for kids like mine to be socially distant. What I do is disseminate information to you, and I know that is important.

Yet I also know what others of you are doing is really essential.