A world wide pandemic, infecting millions, killing hundreds of thousands, forcibly transforming society as we know it. Sounds more like a bad apocalyptic movie script, but it’s not. It’s been almost three years since it started. While the scientists dropped everything, rolled up their lab coat sleeves and went to work on a vaccine, over five million people died. A million people in. this. country. died. Many of them, alone, isolated, unable to hold a hand or say goodbye.
Most of us withdrew into our caves, spraying 2020’s eau d’cologne, Lysol, over all the “touch points” around the house and washed our hands raw. Gingerly heading out to a grocery store wearing a surgical mask quickly became a bizarre fashion statement.
Businesses fought to survive, especially “mom and pop” stores, the local shops that are part of the fabric of small communities across the country. More than a few didn’t make it. For most of the spring and early summer, of 2020, empty storefronts and vacant parking lots became all too familiar.
If you were lucky you packed up your computer emptied your “cube” and suddenly found yourself working at home, but not before you’ve had a few weeks of “vacation” (read “furlough”) to help you over-think your “Post-Covid” future.
Working from home or not quite “working from home,” Kids suddenly home from school. “self isolating,” “social distancing,” realizing that it’s been weeks since I’ve talked to someone who isn’t a family member, the faint smell of Clorox everywhere and washing hands … constantly.
And yet … Summer comes anyway. The squirrels (your new office co-workers) still steal too much bird seed. The lawn needs mowing and I should paint the living room. Everyone takes up some sort of hobby. For some reason, sourdough bread has started trending and you can’t seem to find those little packets of yeast in the grocery store.
There is a dichotomy in the shadows of empty shelves and shuttered stores. The five star restaurant delivers now, sometimes using the same “Doordash” guy that’s delivering the pizza your neighbor ordered. Everyone’s gotta eat.
Surgical masks hung from rearview mirrors like a twisted pair of Covid-19 fuzzy dice. If you had stocked up on canned beans and tomatoes you probably also had a shelf full of disinfectant spray and Purell. Groceries delivered to your front door, Clorox wipes on nearly everything before it even comes in the house. You keep everyone at a literal “arms length.” Working remotely has you not seeing or speaking to an adult you’re not related to for days on end. The world of the introvert.
The lab coats come through and there’s a vaccine, a light at the end of the tunnel. People rush to stand in line for the shot in hopes of putting an end to over a year of all of this.
You knew by now there had to be a “but.”
Yes, there’s a “but” at the end of that sentence.
For reasons I still don’t understand, a good sized part of the population decided that they just didn’t want to participate. Poor leadership, short attention span, cynicism with a dash of mistrust. Suddenly it’s not a health care issue, somehow it’s a political one. Cries of repression (But, I don’t want to wear a mask, it’s uncomfortable and it restricts my “freedom”). Inane conspiracy theories (tiny chips in the vaccine will control you or allow you to be followed, or it’s the mark of satan or worse yet … it’ll turn you into a Democrat). You can’t make this shit up.
Trust and civility seems to evaporate causing every disagreement into “us vs. them” shouting matches and amazingly, even death threats. Not much of a middle ground.
There’s an election and the people who lost decide that they didn’t, insidious plots, conspiracies, and amazingly, and what amounts to an attempted coup follows. Who was responsible for turning the country into some bizarre banana republic remains to be seen, accountability vs. the possibility that it could all happen again just feeds the contentious arguments among people who used to be friends or even family members.
Militia groups bent on tearing down the government. They used to hold up in the far flung parts of Montana and North Dakota but they see the opportunity and come out of hiding to take point in the coup, joined by an angry mob that wants to burn it down and start over in their own exclusive image.
What happens next. is anyone’s guess on a daily basis. To be continued.