Living in a Horror Movie

As I see it, you and I are living in a horror movie, right now. Maybe you have not seen it that way, yet, with everything you’ve had to do just to cope and survive. It wouldn’t be so bad if we had starring roles in the movie, and could show our talents, but we don’t. You and I are mere bit players. It’s an el cheapo Chinese movie, for which you and I are paying dearly for the “privilege” of our bit parts. Though you may not have realized that you are in the horror movie, I’m sure you know the title, “COVID-19”. That’s the American-English language title. I don’t know the title in French, Italian, Deutsch, Spanish, or any of the other many languages of this world. The movie is so poor of a movie that COVID-19 isn’t even it’s real name. That is a shortened version of the real name. To add insult to injury, the movie is already a year out of date. It’s a ‘19 movie, which we are, very unwillingly, helping to make in year ‘20. 

Who are the directors, and stars, of this horror movie? There are plenty of directors. Of course they aren’t you or I, or anyone like us. They are mainly officials and advisors whose jobs and incomes are secure, at least at this time, from loss by what they decree. That’s a far cry from the lost jobs and incomes of ordinary bit players in the movie. At this time, the starring parts are uncast, because they are, as yet, unknown. But you can bet your last dollar, if you haven’t already spent it, that starring roles will be identified at a later date. One thing is likely. To almost a certainty, you, who are on the line in the movie, will not be in any “heroic” starring role. 

“We Don’t Want to Die!”

I recently had good cause to travel outside of Madison County, Iowa, to a part of this nation which has been hit far harder by the COVID-19 virus. What I saw there may be a harbinger of what will come here. I saw ordinary people, people whose jobs put them in constant contact with unknown others, wearing helmets with clear face-shields. Those helmets provide far superior protection over masks. I didn’t have to have my temperature taken, at least by a human. That was done, very impersonally and covertly, by a scanner in the entrance door. In the place where I went on my special errand, mere visitors, those without a pass recorded on a computer screen, were denied entry, no matter what. Yes, I did in fact see denial happen. And there was much, much more. 

I had expected most of what I saw that particular day. I could, to some extent, accept it, though very unwillingly. What boggled my mind that day was a very predictable human incident. One person, with a very ordinary job, had to provide what, mere months ago, would have been usual help. He did so with great courtesy, but as distantly as he possibly could. With the need for help being more than he had expected, he blurted out, “We don’t want to die from COVID-19!” I felt, at that moment, the fear that this young person, working at an usually ordinary job, had of contracting, and dying from, COVID-19. 

Moments in Time

I have been glad to see the increasing number of people who are wearing nose and mouth masks at public places. It is an imperfect protection, but it is far better than nothing. And a mask protects not only the wearer. It protects even more others, because the wearer could carry the COVID-19 virus to many others without yet knowing it. 

Before the COVID-19 emergency struck, I became one of several Winterset Shopper carriers. To my surprise, I like the work. It is a whole lot more to me than a way to earn a few needed dollars. I know several people on my routes. A whole lot more of them know me, at least by name. Many people know the usual time I will arrive. Some would deliberately be at their door, to say hello, take the Shopper from my hand, and say a few quick, friendly words to me. That has changed dramatically since COVID-19. Though I have suggested it, I don’t like the change a bit. I no longer hand the Shopper to those who want close contact. Now, I merely wave hello through an open door, or, just more often, wave as I pass their door or picture window. 

I’ve had a number of people express surprise that the Shopper is still delivered in town. I believe strongly that YOUR safety makes continued home delivery necessary. Just think, for a moment, of the alternative: Hordes of people, on Tuesday and Wednesday, going to a gas station, grocery store, or elsewhere, to get a Shopper, and look at it there. 

I’ve twice, during this COVID-19 emergency, gone visiting family. We try not to talk or even think about COVID-19. We have a good time. And COVID-19 is an obstacle I detest. Close family doesn’t feel as close if there are no hugs on arrival. The distant parting, with no hugs, is worse, an unsatisfactory parting. 

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of a visit from a teen I met last fall. Whenever he sees me around town, he says hello, and always, in passing, says something good. Because he had stopped, I wanted him to know that I welcomed his visit. I extended my hand for a handshake, told him that I was glad to see him, and invited him to stay a bit and talk. Soon, he was not only talking. He was offering to help me with the hard task I was doing. We worked together that afternoon. When that task was done, in good time, he offered to help with my next task, one that I would have had a difficult time doing alone. I like to think that we were both pleased at our conversation, and at the work we did together. The things we accomplished together would not have been possible had we stood on the “maintain your distance” strictures of living in COVID-19 times. 

I don’t want to close this part so soon, but I’ll have to do it, with this item. A person I know pulled over to the curb, waved, and cheerily asked how I was doing. I realized immediately that a different, unusual response was necessary. Using her name, I walked forward, and replied “I think the more important question is how YOU are doing.” Her reply was that she was doing all right. Her husband’s death was expected. And of course, there would be no funeral, and no public burial. But a private family service was being considered. She said more, too, including an important piece of information she thought I should know. After she left, I thought, and don’t like a bit what has happened. Death, and mourning, does not stop just because visitation services, funerals, and public burials cannot be held due to COVID-19. The lack of any final, public good-byes make death much harder to take. It would be a whole lot better if we would find a better way to mourn the dead, and still have a reasonable protection against COVID-19. 

A Penny’s Worth

I found a good thought in one of the novels I’ve read since COVID-19 struck. To me, it is very appropriate at this time. 

It is important to be strong during times of trial and crisis. But it is equally important to be weak as well. At those times, one must be ready to bow in the wind, even to withdraw and regroup, and thus have another day, instead of being blown over in the galestorms of life.