I’ve been wondering what I can do about the pandemic, besides stay home, wash my hands, and donate my firefighter husband to the cause. But then I remembered: I’m a writer! I can entertain/educate/offend people! So here I am.
In theory, it’s nice to be at home more. I spend many hours on my back patio, listening to birds, and panicking about the online teaching work I’m not doing and the pending pandemic apocalypse. I feel like I should write a will. Just in case: if your initials are GBV and your rescue dog has a bladder problem, you can have my heated blanket.
I try to do those be in the moment exercises. I have the Calm meditation app. A couple of days ago, I listened to Matthew McConaughey tell me a bedtime story. “Before we begin, as you settle in under the covers with your head easing into the pillow and your body sinking into the mattress, I’d like you to let your mind drift with me…” Yeah, okay, MATTHEW FUCKING MCCONAUGHEY, my mind is totally drifting with you, but I’m not relaxing, if you know what I mean.
But the biggest obstacle standing in the way of my inner peace – besides checking my kids for symptoms three times a day and fretting about the future of the world – is the inability of people to focus. Focus, people! We can have a sense of humor. We can have Zoom happy hours and walk our dogs and do yard work. But we cannot make fun of this terrible illness in a way that disparages other people, particularly when the disparagement appears tainted with racism. .
Case in point: yesterday, after visiting drive-thru Panera (because I’m trying to support area businesses), I almost drove off the road when I saw this sign out front of a local seafood store: OUR SEAFOOD ISNT FROM CHINA SO IT DOESNT NEED TO BE QUARANTINED. And I wasn’t just upset about the lack of apostrophes.
Stores that sell groceries are having a moment right now. Folks are staying home, cooking dinner, presumably buying more seafood. These businesses don’t have to fire staff. They’re actually doing pretty well.
A hundred angry screeds ran through my head: You know what else is from China? All those plastic toys people buy their kids for Christmas – the Chinese Barbie Dream House and the Chinese Thomas the Tank Engine and that Chinese stuffed unicorn. Do you know how many people died and suffered in China from this disease? And where did you get that crawfish, by the way? Louisiana? You better be quarantining those babies.
Truth: This coronavirus, COVID-19, seems to have started in China. Many viruses begin in Asia and Africa, actually, because of poverty, overpopulation, subsistence living, and deforestation. Much of it is our fault, too. But that’s another BlogVid altogether.
I pulled into the parking lot of the fish store and took a picture, as you can see, and I went into the store. Contrary to my reputation, I don’t relish conflict, particularly with people who live in my own community. But I also am tired of ignoring bad behavior.
The man behind the counter was busy doing something with a fish carcass. “Can I help you with something?” he asked.
“No,” I said. “Your sign outside is offensive, though.”
“Yes,” I said. Then I walked back to my car and left. The whole thing had been more dramatic in my head. I’m sure the folks who wrote the sign think it’s funny. I’m sure lots of people think it’s funny. Fact: It’s not. Listen – there are lots of things we can argue about these days, from how Trump has handled this fiasco to whether the stimulus package is the right economic move. But we should all agree on this: no one wants this disease, and it’s no one’s fault that it exists. That’s on period, as my daughter says these days, although I have no real idea what it means.
As a rule, of course, I prefer fresh seafood. From an environmental standpoint alone, it’s ridiculous to live on the coast and buy fish that was caught on the other side of the world, frozen in a factory, and shipped to the U.S. before landing at the grocery store. That’s an enormous carbon footprint for a tiny little shrimp.
So I’m unlikely to buy my seafood from China. But for now, I’m not going to buy it from my neighborhood seafood shop, either, and that makes me sad.