Mike's Views

... non-violent, revolutionary, anarchist

Effects of the lockdown on seniors (me) - Letter to Frank Bruni, NYT

Hey Frank

Usually your newsletter leaves me screaming with laughter, but today it's giving me pause to think about what effect all this is having on me, and by extension, many, many other people.

I am in the at-risk age group, 1,000 miles away from what used to be home. I am working from my cubicle, a bed, a desk and a window, doing the financials for the family business, working on my other online ventures. My current girlfriend, age appropriate this time, decided to shelter in place (alone!) for fear of infecting her grandchildren. Her oldest daughter is recovering from the virus. We text each other in the middle of the night, and that's about it for human companionship other than other residents of this house, middle aged guys who grunt a hello in passing.

I am a Trader Joe's fan. I like their food. They have a lot of natural/organic stuff, priced well below Whole Foods or local health food stores, way better flavor-wise than your standard chain grocery stores. A couple weeks ago I was coming back from the Olympic peninsula and stopped at a Trader's in Olympia. A kid at the door squirted some hand sanitizer in my outstretched palm. They were wiping down the baskets. Everybody was smiling and joking.

How things have changed in 2 weeks!

Now, for the past week or so, I have gone by the Trader's in Vancouver several times, there was always a line stretched waaay down the sidewalk, they allow only 30 people at a time in the doors. I said to myself each time, I really don't want anything bad enough to wait in that line. When I was a kid during the cold war, we always saw photos of Russians waiting in line to buy bread but there was no bread.

But then I read that Trader's does have a seniors hour from 8-9 am. Being well within the age group, yesterday I got there a little before 8, there were already a handful of seniors outside, and they kept coming as we waited for the doors to open.

Most of the crowd looked like they had had the life beaten out of them, silent, alone, hunched over, wrapped against the wind. I felt like I was in South East Asia, able to see over the top of the crowd. Not a cheery face or a chatty Kathy in the bunch, albeit still a far cry from Syrian refugee camps. No laughing, no joking, no eye contact. This was serious business, keeping our 6-foot intervals.

Today I am reflecting on all this, from my cubicle, staring out my one window at the identical house next door. I'm reading the god-awful numbers from Europe and feeling overwhelmed by the portents of global disaster, economic meltdown and the mother-of-all recessions just around the corner. Granted everybody has moods, but that said, I'm the guy who never had a depressed day in his life. I think young, I refuse to grow up, I don't have it in my DNA to become (hack, kaff, harrumph) old and conservative. I stand up straight.

But how about all those others from the grocery lineup? Are they going to take their gnarled hands and hunched shoulders and babushka-covered graying heads back to cubicles of their own? What's going on behind those expressionless eyes, those dazed faces?

Tell me, Frank, you gotta have a handle on this...We're all counting on you...