You have a nice home to shelter in, food to eat, shows to stream, games to play. You don't live with an abuser or parents who misgender you; insist your orientation is sinful. Yet you complain you're deprived of your social life, restaurants, bars, park visits. You don't need to risk your life and your loved ones for minimum wage without protection, sick leave, health care. You've enough to pay your bills; credit cards to order online; connected devices allowing well-paid work. But you miss the ball games, parties band performances, church services. You don't shiver in the cold, snow, and rain under a tent if you're lucky, or just a cardboard box, or blanket. If your throat is sore, your head feels hot, you can telephone your physician. You don't have to stand in line for a clinic that sends you home when they run out of test kits. Or just keep working. You know what the virus looks like, how to prevent exposure and illness. You don't toil next to those who could be infected with no information how or supplies to protect yourself. You fret about event and concert cancellations, missed graduations. You don't worry about untreated broken bones; forced sex without access to birth control; deadly pregnancy. The only people desperate for life to return to normal are those privileged to enjoy "normal" life.
In normal times (remember those?) we buy most of our groceries at the local Farmer's Market. Pandemic panic makes shopping dangerous, negotiating grocery store aisles fraught with peril. Local Farmer's Markets devised plans to save growers, produce, those who still want healthy, tasty food. Many can't risk encounters with selfish, shoppers oblivious to social distancing orders. As food purveyors, the market qualifies as an essential service, now safer than most. Dedicated managers have designed pre-ordering systems, plotted lowest contact options. No wandering to see what might be available. No metal carts requiring disinfectants. Farmers survive. Food doesn't rot in the field. Consumers thrive. Yet, some demand markets terminate. They claim violation of the governor's stay-at-home orders for all but essential outings. Demonstrating how in normal times Farmers Markets serve many purposes beyond food exchange. Folks gather to catch up with their neighbors, listen to music, eat and drink with friends and family. But for us and others, markets are just a source of fresh produce, meat, milk, bread, occasional treats. Altered Farmers Markets permit healthier quarantine eating and ensure small farmers survive. Those who come to hear music, dine al fresco, gossip with friends can return when quarrantine's lifted.
Times that Try
These times try our souls in the court of adversity as a global pandemic reveals our true natures. Some reached out, helped where they could: providing free lunch to students who only eat at school; running errands for home-bound, frightened seniors; donating needed funds, supplies, masks; offering amusements, delivery. Buying gift cards and meals to donate and deliver to health care workers, helping struggling restaurants while thanking those risking their lives serving every day. But, scammers, hackers, bankers, politicians only saw an opportunity for profit. Dumping stock; gouging prices; forcing employees to risk their health; sacrificing a thousand lives for a market bump. Taking advice from Wall Street instead of doctors and scientists; refusing to lock down and prevent the viral spread; delaying tests in search of more profits; denying sick leave, health care; bailing out megacorps. Partying on the beach rather than forgo spring break festivities; gathering at clubs and restaurants; choosing to endanger the old and vulnerable, unwilling to make sacrifices for common good. Demanding at-risk employees return to work in hospitals; abandoning the innocent in care facilities; ignoring risks to immigrants in concentration camps, POC in profit prisons. Maliciously pushing harmful snake oil, defective supplies; stealing tips from those who deliver; coughing on bus drivers; licking groceries, parcels, door knobs. Ammosexuals gathering on state capitol steps -- armed with automatic weapons, racism, white supremacy -- threatening those trying to protect the lives of everyone except the imprisoned. The trial of souls in the court of adversity and so many failed to exhibit basic compassion.
First published in As the World Burns, Writers and Artists Reflect on a World Gone Mad
©2021 F. I. Goldhaber
All rights reserved