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Friday, May 22, 2020

Mass Graves and Bread Lines Forever!

The plague for me started at a social gathering where we were talking about the plague. And the next week we were attempting to pack up work and work from home. That didn’t work for me for a few weeks. I had to go back to work because what I was sent didn’t work from home. I wasn’t the only one. There were plenty of people working from work, all with the lights off, trying not to draw attention. There was a whole floor full of us, pretending not to notice that we were still at the office.

Then they broke out the hand sanitizer vats. That lasted all of two days before they white flagged the effort. At that point most of us had become convinced that we needed to be home. One woman was so frustrated with the laptop she had been assigned that she scooped up her desktop from work and took that. I’m not sure how well that was going to work, but God bless her, anyway.

My own laptop was some 17 pound thing repurposed from the return to lessor pile. It has little stickers on it. And it didn’t work. Then it worked and there were connectivity issues. One by one they all became resolved, my whole work environment eventually illuminating element by element.

And here I have been, plugging away by myself, working somewhat similarly to what I do in the office, only without human contact. My social event has become an online event. My writer’s group is going to computer chat. Dating is out. It was a pain in the butt anyway, but now it’s impossible.

The adventures out are memorable, each one less routine than the next. The people you want to see, you can’t. The people you do see, you don’t want to. The vast majority of folks you interact with are attempting their best behavior. Because being an ass would be pointless. There is this oddball minority of non-compliant types, mostly milling at quickie marts and fast food places. I am convinced most are homeless people, taking advantage of the disruption to invade spaces they would normally be chased out of.

I had a quickie mart employee snap at me yesterday. I’ve had a couple of people snap, including one in my apartment building. I can tell from talking to some pals that this situation is not wearing well.  As for me, I have projects. So many projects I may be dead a few years before getting to them all. I called to offer a local merchant of mine money for a gift certificate, in hopes it would help him stay afloat. He nicely talked me out of it.  The shop is owned by a well endowed party and will reopen soon. They’ve has a number of offers of cash, of which they have no need. I’ve been attempting to ply my favorite restaurants, to the degree it is feasible. I think half of them are in trouble. Those still operating have shortened up their menus to some degree.

At the start of this, toilet paper disappeared. Pages of type were spent explaining that the problem was intractable. Supply chains are blockchain fixed to deliver one third to one half of all butt wipery to industry. It was a failure of the capitalist system. Wipe your bums with napkins.

Then all of the toilet paper returned. Capitalism un-failed? Some of this stuff is not the regular brands. (Quick! What’s your regular brand of toilet paper?) It’s one step up from the ‘please poop elsewhere’ brand your office uses but one step down from fluffy bunnies for your hind that most of us are used to. Someday a business historian will do a survey of all of the brands which appeared just for the plague. Toilet paper is now sale priced. Hand sanitizer, when it appears, is going for what oven cleaner used to. Oil lost all of its value. Saudi Arabia and Venezuela may now be safely swallowed up by the Earth. Up may be down, but it’s not all bad news.

Beef is reportedly scarce, however here in Chicagoland it seems pork and bacon are what’s vanishing. This week ribs disappeared. Next week something else will take its turn on the privation lottery.

Not bad as disasters go, except for the 100,000 dead.

The corporations letting us know they care ads have subsided.  It was hard to differentiate them.  Big private ventures stuck the boss’s puss on the ads. The guy who invented a pillow now want to sell us a book on how he used to smoke crack. He hopes it will be a movie. Faceless trusts flashed their logos after an ‘Up With People’ rehash. Frito Lay refused to show us its logo, saying it didn’t matter. Our world remains flooded with artists podcasting from basements.

At some point during this crisis metrics should have descended. The governor of Illinois believes in it. Parts of the Federal apparatus seem to believe in it. Our president believes in lying and selling snake oil. The metrics say that his acting rationally would have saved 30,000 lives so far. No telling how many people he can kill until he’s punted into the ashcan of history come November. They have come up with the metrics we need to hit before its safe to reopen. And we aren’t hitting them. And we’re opening back up, anyway. Predicting something worse isn’t a matter of pessimism, but rather logic. Wishing that the big cheeses in their ivory towers with their science were just plain wrong hasn’t worked yet.

Then we were all enlisted as soldiers. Now this is a war and we are all targets without weapons. A cure, widespread available testing, anything other than the dark ages solutions are not on the horizon.

I’m not sure what will be said of this era. I suspect we will not come out looking like stable geniuses.

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