Tom Clyde: The coronavirus has worn out its welcome
The plague has quickly worn out its welcome. It’s not quite a month since ski season was shut down, with an abruptness that felt like it happened almost mid-lift ride. The cascade of closures and disruptions quickly followed and here we are. It feels like forever. The magic of getting together with friends on Zoom is seeming less magic all the time. It’s better than no contact at all, but falls well short of lunch on the patio at Windy Ridge.
I ventured out of the bunker for a while this week. It was a very routine list of errands that felt anything but routine. The grocery store was suddenly fully masked, with flimsy and ineffective plastic screens at the checkstand. I noticed that everybody tried to exchange pleasantries with the clerks (who are heroes for showing up every day), which meant everybody stood to the side of protective screen, urging them to take protection seriously. About half the customers wore masks, and everybody was giving the other customers the skunk eye, as if we could see infection just by looking at them.
Personally, I assumed that anybody who was grocery shopping in their pajamas at 2 p.m. was probably spreading something worse than the coronavirus, and had other sociological issues I didn’t want to deal with in the produce aisle. Really, people, this is depressing enough without a bunch of you wandering around town in your PJs, several days from a shower. Get a grip. I’ve got kind of mixed feelings about wearing a mask, but I’m beginning to think wearing a tie when you go out would be a big improvement. Even if you are in your pajamas.
I keep a back-up hard drive on my computer, and swap it out every month with the other one that lives in the safe deposit box at the bank. The bank was locked down, with only drive-up service. A note on the door had a phone number to schedule an appointment to access your box or talk to somebody on the inside. The manager saw me and let me in. I’m not sure what the bank’s policy on masks is but didn’t push my luck.
I needed some office supplies to keep pretending to work at home. Amazon had what I wanted but couldn’t deliver until May because we are all ordering everything from Amazon. They can’t get staffed up for volumes that exceed Christmas. I looked at Best Buy’s website, and they had what I wanted. I did the “in store pick-up” option, only even that is weird. I ordered and paid online. They texted a secret code to me, then another text that the order was ready for pick-up. The instructions were quite complicated, but when I pulled up in front of the store, the guy asked my name and what I had ordered, and then went and got it. He said they were supposed to put it in the trunk, but if it was OK with me, he could toss it into the car through the passenger window, which is where we were talking. That worked. The whole thing felt like some movie drug deal.
All the restaurants in the Kimball Junction Fast Food Franchise Culture District seemed to be open for curbside service. There were a couple of places I’ve really missed (eating my own cooking is no way to wait out the pandemic), but it just seemed complicated. I’d already restocked the perishables at the grocery store, so it made sense to go home and eat what I had. But looking around, each of those businesses has an owner and a pile of employees who are getting crushed by this. As I ate yet another peanut butter sandwich on distinctively non-artisanal bread at home, I thought I really should have bought something to take home. For a lot of reasons.
Last week’s paper had the discouraging news that the resorts have furloughed most of their year-round staff. Summer operations are uncertain. Even if things are sort back to normal by summer, there’s a question of whether people will have the income or inclination to travel. That caught me by surprise, even though I had already pulled the plug on my own vacation plans. The county is estimating about 10,000 jobs have, or will, vanish in the county. No telling how quickly they will come back.
That same issue of the paper had two advertising inserts in it. One was from a craft store, advertising Easter baskets and decorations. The other was from a sporting goods store, with hot deals on guns and ammo. Right there in the fold of The Park Record were manifest signs of hope and despair. Make your holiday as festive and fun as ever, and if anybody tries to steal your marshmallow peeps, you’ll be ready to blow them to smithereens.
That’s the world we live in now.
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column since 1986.
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“Our community is fluid,” columnist Teri Orr writes. “Yet our actions are increasing rigid … and honestly — tired and stuck and unimaginative and nowhere near … .”