Lightning’s not supposed to strike twice. But here I am. In New York City. America’s Ground Zero for coronavirus. And I thought that surviving an escape from my office on the 82nd floor of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 was the last time I would be part of a Ground Zero tribe. And the gods laughed.
I am so fortunate. I’m employed in a now-devastated industry (aviation) – by an “essential” agency which means that – although social distancing means I am working out of office – my paychecks (for now) and healthcare coverage continues. I’m part of the newly defined “1%”. I have a job, a home, and to (cringeworthingly) quote my 89-yr old mother – I have my health. Bubbe was spot on: health is everything.
I walk my old dog in my Astoria neighborhood, passing one hundred shuttered cash-based businesses. I think of the thousands of workers now three weeks without income and I could weep. I can survive closed restaurants and bars, I can forego a Chinese massage. I never did go for a Korean mani/pedi. The worst impact to me is an awfully overgrown hair style now that barbers and salons are all close.
I suspect that if this continues for months – not the weeks broadcast by my President who predicted “a beautiful Easter” – it will be the death of the American middle class (burdened by overwhelming mortgage, credit card, and college tuition debt), and God protect those in the lowest income brackets.
The few open shops – a supermarket and drug store – are restricting customer access – staging entry and controlling 6 feet gaps in each queue. Purchase of items is also restricted – one dozen eggs, one carton of milk.
Many disregard the Center for Disease Control recommendations – I see a gang of 8 men playing basketball at a local park, and the old men who previously sat outside our Greek coffee shops still convene with cigars and newspapers, enjoying (thanks climate-change) good weather just as they’ve done for years before.
The lucky ones – older professionals in my demographic – have an option to retreat the vacant city for our vacation homes – in my case a seaside home that used to take 3 hours to drive to in congested metro traffic. Yesterday I made the trip in 90 minutes., on a desolate New Jersey highway made famous by Simon and Garfunkel.
There’s no “counting the cars” on today’s New Jersey Turnpike. I suspect everyone’s “gone to look for America”. We ponder what this means for the November presidential election.
But these summer communities are not prepared to handle summer peak populations in off season, stressing police, fire protection, and hospital resources.
This post is a simple meandering of thoughts from New York. Tell us what you are experiencing in your own zip code. Wishing all good health. Please be safe, be kind to your neighbors, unplug from the news, and try to find something each day to make you laugh.