My wife Sharon and I have been in self-isolation since March 22, 2020. That’s six months now.
If I’ve failed to mention this before, Sharon has a relapsing-remitting course of MS (just like Josiah Bartlet on The West Wing). MS is an autoimmune disease, and Sharon is on medication that further compromises her immune system. I’m a diabetic as well, which puts both of us in the high-risk exposure group. However, if the risk were only to myself, I wouldn’t have chosen self-isolation. Because I love my wife, I would rather die myself than expose her to a virus being casually slung about by MAGA-cap-wearing pinheads who feel that being forced to cover their noses and mouths somehow violates their inalienable human rights.
In the beginning, I was worried about the virus and about possibly losing my job. Since that time, the entire United States seemed to be on fire over both COVID-19 and the George Floyd protests that kicked off another season of senseless violence. Now, we’re gearing up for a presidential election while President Trump attempts to shut down the U.S. Post Office to prevent absentee voting (which sounds like the plot of a bad novel), and the West Coast is literally on fire. Sharon and I remain in self-isolation. I’m still worried about the virus and about losing my job. And, I miss being able to see friends and family in person.
Every day seems pretty much like the one that came before it. We’ve managed to stay reasonably healthy, although we’ve been blowing off important things like dental checkups, eye exams and routine doctor visits. You’d think all this time on my hands would allow me to get a lot more writing accomplished. Oh, I’m still writing a lot. But, I mean real writing. If you know what I mean, you know what I mean.
I still feel like a hypocrite when it bothers me that some of my favorite television series have been delayed because of the pandemic. The public demands its panem et circenses, which is Latin for “bread and circuses,” or “bread and games.” We commoners have selfish, day-to-day priorities and require a palliative to keep our minds off of wider concerns. Only career politicians are selfless enough to handle big-picture issues, right?
I was considered an “essential” worker because I sell postage for a living, something that the non-mask-wearing and non-social-distancing public can do for themselves at home. Seriously. The USPS is still trying to replace window clerks with machines, and, while this sounds heretical (just ask my union), they probably should. Even better for overhead, don’t replace us at all. Just require the public to shell out money for electronic postal scales and encourage them to learn how to use the Click-and-Ship software already in place. There are plenty of people operating businesses from their homes who won’t stop bringing a hundred packages at a time into the post office until they are forced to. Essential oils or Stitch Fix, anyone?
But, I digress—
This was threatening to become a full-on rant up to the point that it actually became one. My point, as belabored as it may be, is that a person who sells stamps is an “essential” worker while my local newscasters are broadcasting from their homes and I’m still waiting for the last few episodes of the final season of Supernatural, which should have ended earlier this year.
This is meant to be tongue-in-cheek (at least a little), because I believe everything should be shut down until we get past this virus. I know it would hurt to hit the pause button on everything, but we would survive. More of us would survive, at any rate.
Here in the United States of America, where we’ve learned that denial is the least-effective defense against a viral pandemic, we are rapidly approaching 7 million total cases and over 200,000 deaths. If you leave out WWII and the US Civil War from the calculations, that total is higher than all US combat deaths since before the country existed. When you take in the fact that this includes WWI, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and assorted never-declared wars, including whatever it is we’re up to now, this death toll seems even more staggering.
I have a vivid memory from when I was a kid and the evening news would post the names of fallen US soldiers in Vietnam. On the deadliest day of the Vietnam War in 1968, the US recorded 246 casulties. According to the Internet, there were 309 US deaths from COVID-19 yesterday, and this was a “good” day. I know you won’t think I’m a cynic if I say I believe the death toll is even higher than reported.
Where are the protests and classic rock songs about this? Of course, protests imply large social gatherings, which aren’t cool right now, and classic rock songs aren’t composed overnight. COVID-19 doesn’t have its “For What It’s Worth” or “Fortunate Son,” at least not yet. The more paranoid members of our tribe might suggest that encouraging virus deniers or fomenting racial tension was a good way to distract the general public from the shoddy way we’ve handled this present crisis. I’m not saying that I believe this to be true. I write fiction, which is required to make sense, so I may look for reasons where none truly exist.
I’ve worked as a public servant for the majority of my life. There are a lot of dumb people out there who don’t need rational reasons to do dumb things. Factor in the sad truth that sometimes smart people do dumb things as well, and the result is pretty self-evident.
I apologize for this brief departure from my standard, reasonably innocuous posts. I’ve been percolating on this subject for a while now and had to commit something to paper (or screen, Internet. . . whatever).
You are now returned to your regularly scheduled broadcast.