I’ll get the stupid stuff out of the way first:
- No, you can’t get the virus from drinking Mexican beer. But it’s OK to ask that question, once: stranger things have happened.
- I’ve heard so much about the coronavirus that I’m sick of it, in and of itself, so I’ve started to call it the Dos Equis virus.
- When we have a Pacífico virus, then I’ll start worrying.
- ‘Covid-19’ is a stupid name:
- When I first heard it, I thought of ‘Product 19,’ a Kellogg’s breakfast cereal with a full day’s vitamins in one serving. We had it in my house when I was a kid: it was a dreary part of dreary school mornings.
- ‘Covid’ sounds like a brand of motor oil: ‘Covid-19 keeps your engine clean.’
And the less-stupid stuff:
- I remember the Hong Kong flu and the Sydney flu, so I really can’t get upset with someone calling this year’s disease the ‘Wuhan flu’ or ‘China flu.’
- When the virus started making the news, my wife said she didn’t want to go to Chinatown for dim sum, formerly one of our favorite weekend lunches. I tried to talk her into going, but I didn’t really feel like dim sum either. It isn’t racism, just the power of an unpleasant association.
- I still go to the local Chinese takeout place.
- Last week, when the gyms were still open, I had had a bellyful of bad news watching the morning news programs, so I switched to the other side of the gym, where the TVs were tuned to ESPN and the sports channels. At the end of last week, I wondered what they would do now that sporting events around the US and around the world had been cancelled. At this point, the gyms are all closed, so it doesn’t matter.
Trying to be a little more serious:
- I always imagine that when some emergency happens, I’ll be able to settle down and work in peace, or maybe turn my attention to something I’ve wanted to do and never had the time. But that never happened. Past emergencies (snowstorms, hurricanes) have lasted less than a week, and I was overtaken by the need to find out about, and fuss over, the emergency. I need to get past that, this time.
- I’m feeling OK as I write this, except for the lingering tension of worrying what might happen. At this point, that seems worse than the actual virus.
- Last week, I regularly visited the Johns Hopkins coronavirus dashboard. Now I avoid it. I look maybe twice a day, and I’m trying to drop it entirely. It just adds to the tension.
* * *
Last Sunday, my wife and I went to a restaurant for lunch. She had particularly wanted to go on Sunday for the live music. The guitarist was there, but we were the only customers. He played, and we talked and laughed and sang. I got a little bit drunk. I think we needed that.
And then, about a half-hour later, I got a phone call from work. I steeled myself to deliver a competent answer. Life is never easy.
* * *
Yesterday afternoon, my wife and I did some shopping. We went to the Korean supermarket on 32nd Street and a nearby drugstore. There are no paper goods, hand sanitizer, or disinfectants to be had, but everything else is pretty much there.
One of the Korean restaurants now limited to takeout was offering a ‘Care Package:’ for $149 (roughly the same as their menu price) they would pack up a Korean barbecue dinner (with raw meat to be grilled at the destination) and the essential garnishes and side dishes.
I was in good spirits, until I opened my email and got correspondence about Governor Handy Andy’s latest restrictions. After decreeing that 50% of employees had to work from home, then 75%, he has gone all the way: all non-essential businesses shall be closed. Public transit will remain in operation, but is to be avoided:
Individuals should limit use of public transportation to when absolutely necessary and should limit potential exposure by spacing out at least six feet from other riders;
The program has a cutesy name: New York State on PAUSE (Policies Assure Uniform Safety for Everyone). I get annoyed with cute names for serious business, as well as laws named after little girls.
My particular business, as I read the rules, is deemed essential, so I can go in to work, although I should probably take my bicycle instead of the subway. Nevertheless, I’m working from home when I can: after being overjoyed at consistently being able to get a seat on the subway, even during the rush hour, now I’m a bit creeped out.
I get the idea: with the number of cases skyrocketing, it’s more important to try to maintain isolation. Still, the news is a punch in the gut. (I could plumb the numbers further: I’m an engineer: it’s what I do. But not today.)
And yet, I wonder: we’ve been told that we should be welcoming of all people, that referring to Covid as a ‘Chinese virus’ is racist, and that diversity is our strength. Yet the current set of rules seem to pit us all against each other, warning that any stranger within six feet is a potential disease carrier and bringer of illness and death.
For my part, I find myself being overly nice (or at least nicer than usual) to the people I have to interact with in my travels: we are, after all, all in this together.