April 04, 2020

Strange Days

by Alan Beatts

Strange days indeed are here.  I hope that you are all happy, healthy and managing the day-to-day challenges with "grace and artistry" (as Tom Lehrer put it).  Levity aside, I know that this is a difficult time for all of us.  The crew at the shop are managing pretty well but we're all quite lucky in our individual circumstances.  Others are not so lucky and our thoughts are with them.

In the scale of what is happening, Borderlands really isn't very important and so I'm not going to waste many words on our situation other than to say that, financially speaking, we're doing alright.  The financial consequences of closing up the shop are significant but, at this point, manageable.  The staff will continue to get paid and/or they'll be getting unemployment benefits that equal their usual income, which is a huge load off my mind.  For the business, money will be tight down the road but we can deal with that then.  For now though, there are a few things that we're doing that will help our situation.  You'll find details about them below.  Bottom line though - there is little risk that we'll have to close as a result of the current situation.

What is important, however, are the grimly historic events that we are caught up in.  I think we each have our own personal, "Wow.  This is serious." moments.  I don't mean the big things that you see on the news but the little, personal things.  For me it was today; I did the math and realized that I could park in front of the shop, all day long, for $4.  I know it's silly for cheap parking meters to bring home the depth of our situation but a small thing is something that my mind can really put in context.

A super-tanker sized hospital ship coming into New York harbor is just too large, both figuratively and literally, to be easily incorporated in my world-view.

But, however we get there, this truly is deeply serious.  The effects of this will be with us for a long time.  I hope that the magnitude of the measures we need to take as a society will decrease sharply in the next months.  And I also hope that, within a year or two, we will be past the destructive part of this pandemic.  But, there will be vestiges and scars of it left over for years to come.

San Francisco is strange right now, in may ways, but it's also kinder than it was a few weeks ago.  People seem to be smiling more at each other on the street (albeit while walking past each other as far apart as possible).  I talked with a postal worker today who was genuinely pleasant, helpful and accommodating.  There's a bag-piper in my neighborhood who's playing from his rooftop at sunset each evening.  In general, people are driving slower and with more courtesy.  And, across the board, the people I've dealt with have been kinder and more considerate than usual.

It's is all those little things combined with the big stuff, like the generally responsible behavior of mayors and governors around the country, that make me confident that we're going to be alright.  This is going to be hard and it's going to be long but we'll get through.

We're going to be alright.


"I believe in my whole race. Yellow, white, black, red, brown. In the honesty, courage, intelligence, durability, and goodness of the overwhelming majority of my brothers and sisters everywhere on this planet. I am proud to be a human being. I believe that we have come this far by the skin of our teeth. That we always make it just by the skin of our teeth, but that we will always make it. Survive. Endure."
-- Robert A. Heinlein, 1952

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