Welcome to the new normal. A month ago, it would have been unheard of that we would be in this predicament, self-isolating, businesses closing, unemployment rising. The Federal Government is sending out stimulus checks, the first since 2008, to try and prop up the economy.
Personally, I bought a television and got hooked up to the internet after living in my apartment for three years. I always found something to occupy my time, but staying cooped up in my apartment, I knew I needed more than my smart phone could offer. Besides, my eyes just can’t take looking at a small screen.
This is all due to something only 125 nanometers in size. To put that into prospective, and this coming from Nano.gov, a human hair ranged from 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers. One inch is equal to 25,400,000 nanometers. It’s humbling to see that something so miniscule can wreak havoc on our bodies, and it would seem, the national and global economies.
People are out of work. I’m one of the fortunate ones that still has a job to go to. It’s a bit of a blessing and a curse. I’m not complaining, but I work at a retailer that is deemed essential, a hardware store. If you want to complain about a hardware store being considered essential, just wait until your water heater goes out, or you have electrical or plumbing issues. Shelter being considered part of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, after all.
Be that as it may, there is a lot of stress being placed on retail workers, men and women being put in danger to keep the world up and running. There are countless stories of customers being rude, of purposely coughing on employees. A Detriot bus driver, James Hargrove died recently, days after complaining of a passenger coughing without bothering to cover their mouth.
Schools are closed, as are churches. Services are being held via streaming. Today, Palm Sunday, Pope Francis led mass to kick off Holy Week to an empty St. Peter’s Basilica instead of out in the square. The Holy Father also gave an unprecedented Urbi et Orbi blessing last week, again to an empty Basilica, streamed for the faithful around the world. The Urbi et Orbi, the full text available here via the Vatican website, is a blessing to the City (Rome) and The World is typically reserved for only Easter, Christmas, and the election of a new pontiff.
Pandemics are nothing new in the course of human history. We’re all familiar, at least in passing, with the Spanish flu of 1918, or the Bubonic plague that has ravaged the world three times, the second of which is most readily knows as the Black death that struck Europe in the Middle Ages.
But there is an immediacy to this outbreak. It’s in the here and know and we are all affected in one way or another. We all fear being struck next. We all fear having the disease tear us down, of being laid up in a hospital, on a ventilator, or worse, of needing a ventilator only to find that there’s not one available.
Many of us are following the reports, of a growing epidemic in our own communities, of people succumbing to respiratory distress. I’m doing my best to shelter in place, leaving the confines of my apartment only for work and much needed groceries.
There are so many voices telling this story, most of them, if not all, telling it better than I ever could. There are stories of heroism and stories of heartbreak. There are tales of men and women maliciously going into public to spread fear, and some knowingly contagious, to infect as many people as possible.
In the end, this story will have its villians and heros. History will sort out how we as a people fared, and how our leaders did to shepherd us through this tribulation. All I know for now is that it’s rather lonely within the confines of my apartment, but better here hale and alive than ill or possibly dead.