Social Distancing : Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Being Quarantined

It seems that life is getting that much closer to the opening 10 minutes of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. People screaming and panicking, arguing the science of a major outbreak none of us really understand. People moving at a fast, stressed pace thinking of some kind of escape every moment they’re not escaping. Others attempting to run their lives and daily grinds as normal, but all around them society seems to be losing their shit in a major fucking way.

And that’s just the first 10 minutes.

The Coronavirus panic has firmly taken hold here in the U.S. Those that didn’t take it seriously two months ago are now panic buying up all the toilet paper and disinfectant wipes so that the rest of us that realize 200 rolls of toilet paper aren’t going to save us can’t even buy a goddamned 4pk when we shop on our usual grocery day(thanks, btw.) I’m 46-years old and in good health, as is my wife and kids. If we do get this(and I’m sure we probably will) we’ll feel like crap for a week and then we’ll get over it. But my parents are in their 70s, as are a lot of folks. They may have a rougher time than I will. I worry about them. But more than my parents getting this virus on a grocery run, I worry about a seemingly sane society absolutely losing its shit when they should be using common sense and just keeping their distance from one another.

I also worry about the after effects on restaurants, theaters, music venues, schools, and workplaces closing for undetermined amounts of time. Open for carry-out and curbside service, but what about the folks in the service industry that make a living on tips? Or small local diners that made their money on locals coming in daily for a cup of coffee, eggs-over-easy, and bacon? No carry-out or curbside service available. I know these closings and social distancing is in the best interest of our health as a nation, but when it’s all over and thousands upon thousands are out of work what do we do then? You think this stock market slide is bad now? Just wait, bubba.

Music is near and dear to my heart, and I’m in “virtual” contact with a lot of DIY, independent labels and artists. They make their living on small releases and putting on small indie shows. Their livelihood is very much on the line. Making a small living hitting clubs and doing shows was how they continued to do what they love, and those opportunities are all but gone until further notice. These creative folks have spouses, children, rents to pay, groceries to buy, and responsibilities to be met. Their source of income is all but locked away until it’s safe to have a drink in public again. And our means of buying their music is almost nearly gone because brick and mortar stores are also closing up for the time being.

Teachers, teacher aides, secretaries, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers are also living a new reality right now. My kids are doing e-learning, which is great because they can continue to learn. It’s a stunted version, but they can keep up on the work at least. And this social distancing has fallen right around spring break, so hopefully they can finish the school year in a classroom(but I’m not holding my breath, except when I’m out in public of course.) My oldest in college will be finishing her year in our basement as her college has closed the campus for the remainder of the year.

So if we recap; the service industry, the entertainment industry, and the education systems are pretty much being decimated at the moment and that really freaks me the fuck out.

I know this is all for the best in the long run. I really don’t want the world to look like Mad Max : Beyond Thunderdome or 28 Days Later. I just wish us Americans could be a little more civilized and understanding in these times of crisis. Of course when there’s something serious going in this country, what do we do? Do we think of others and those at risk? Some of us do. But it seems it’s more often the case that people just panic, which in turn causes panic in those of us that try to be level-headed. “Shit is going down! Let’s go buy all the guns and toilet paper and disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers!”

If there’s anything I’ve learned from horror films, it’s that scared people can do horrible things. Fighting over toilet paper and Clorox Wipes might not be evil, but that’s just the beginning. Things get worse(and I fear they will), who’s to say these weekend combat Joes and Janes don’t come into Kroger with their AR-15s ready to mow down anyone that thinks they’re gonna get more cans of Maxwell House or rolls of Charmin than they do? From there, they may want your house because it’s nicer than theirs. We’re only a few more sweaty, fear-mongering presidential press conferences away from that. At least that’s what my knowledge of dystopian/sci-fi/horror films tells me.

For the sake of my family I’m putting on a happy face(well, maybe not happy but focused face.) I’m on vacation all next week(yep, I’m still working and getting paid but I’m also dealing with people still, too. I’m open for serious exposure.) My partner at work texted me last night and told me he had a fever of 101.5 and was freezing, so as long as I don’t come down with something I’m taking the family up to the lake next week. Nothing crazy, just hitting the bluff so we can all just stare out into the abyss and realize how insignificant we all are and this all is, in the big scheme of things. Sometimes you need to look at something monolithic and existentially bigger in order to move past your own psychic roadblocks. Well, at least I do anyways. I’m sure my kids will just like the view.

For my part, I’m going to continue to support what I love. We’ll order take-out, I’ll buy albums from artists on Bandcamp, and I’ll support the teachers that are doing their best with makeshift classrooms in their kitchens on Skype. Tomorrow(3/20) Bandcamp is giving 100% of the sales proceeds to the artists, so if there’s something you were thinking about buying on there do it tomorrow. Make it count more than it’s ever counted before. If artists are selling merch on their sites, buy it. If they have gofundme campaigns up to help pay bills, help them out. Corporations don’t need you, artists do. They make our lives so much better. They give us everything of themsevles. The least we can do is buy their goddamned t-shirt or $20 colored vinyl.

Hang in there, wherever you are.

J Hubner

 

 

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