For being such a skinny person all my life, I’m like a slow-moving giant. It’s a good thing not everybody is like me. The world needs people who can respond in an instant to crises. Crises might require slow and measured thought at some point, but not when it is time to act.
New Mexico has shut down all its public schools for several weeks. They did this almost immediately after three people in the state tested positive for the Coronavirus. Knowing New Mexico, they were not testing at all for Coronavirus before these travelers from abroad came staggering back across our border with respiratory illnesses. That’s the way New Mexico operates. New Mexico is perhaps the biggest slow-moving giant (there’s a reason I fit in here), until you poke her.
And then we’re still a slow-moving giant. I doubt anyone is actively testing for further cases of Coronavirus. It is partly the nature of New Mexicans to be lax about such things, but we also simply don’t have the medical personnel to cope with a fast-acting disease. So those in charge did what made sense to them: they shut down public gatherings, with an exemption for schools, and then quickly turned around and shut down schools. It makes sense. Schools are disease incubators. It makes perfect sense, except when you consider that New Mexicans are one paycheck away from not being able to pay their bills and thus won’t stop going to work unless they’re forced to stay home. The kids will be babysat by their grandparents, the parents will bring their diseases home to the kids, and then everybody will get sick anyway.
I’ve never been inclined towards panic or doomsdayism. My sense of fear doesn’t operate as it should. Yet, I’m not a fool and can look at the picture of what is happening around the world. Coronavirus infects people quickly, and while I don’t think I should dress up in a black cape and beaked nose and run a wheelbarrow up the street shouting Bring out your dead!, it does appear to have a higher death rate than the average flu virus. It is smart to try to keep it in check and be prepared for quarantines.
If I do have a panic button, it will occur out of annoyance when I go to the store and find empty shelves. Stocking up is a good thing, but I know how this works already. A handful of people will clear the shelves of everything because, hey, if you’re going to be prepared, you might as well make sure you have five year’s worth of water, toilet paper, etc. — and everybody else be damned. One middle-school student told me her dad had done just that, cleared everything off the shelves of Wal Mart. Carts full of stuff. Because he can. New Mexicans are like that, too. That’s the funny thing. They operate paycheck to paycheck and still manage to single-handedly scrape store shelves clean.
I’d better stop. I’m finding I like these writing warmups on my blog, but this particular one is making me cynical and grumpy, and I haven’t even begun to imagine what it’s going to be like for the next few weeks, as I will no longer have a few morning hours to work in the quiet by myself. I do not want the flavor of cynicism in my book. As of now, my two main female characters are in the kaleidoscope viewing room and have just realized the viewers are actually portals to…! And the male hero is about to slay…! That would be giving things away. Have a great Friday.