I don’t know about you, but I am beginning to have it just about up to here with this COVID-19 stuff. Under seeming house arrest, I have seen all of the YouTube videos I can stand, the village has finally picked up all of the leaves left over from November, the explosion of flowers in the garden The Lovely Mrs. Matthews (TLMM) and God have arranged has reached its peak, and church by computer has begun to seem just a little too comfortable.
I am not insensitive to the real suffering befalling others under the grip of this deadly disease. I know that as of today (April 7) one person in Champaign County has died of the disease and I believe that one is too many, let alone tens of thousands. There is one YouTube video channel I follow that displays a running list of countries in order of most cases reported while playing inane New Age music. Mozart’s “Requiem” would be more appropriate. Sadly, we’re No. 1.
TLMM made us both a mask to wear when we are out in public at one of the few places available to visit. Every Friday we go to Mahomet Animal Hospital so the cat can be sedated and have his cast changed. This is the cat that damaged a ligament jumping in and out of the bathtub when TLMM was showering. The vet has been kind and understanding, even as the cat has not. He has taken to thumping me with his cast when he thinks it is time to eat. He thinks it is time to eat about five times an hour. Soon I’m going to need a cast.
This weekend I finished reading Alan Furst’s “Blood of Victory,” a realistic tale of resistance to the Nazis in World War II. Set in Rumania, Turkey, and Paris, it is the story of a Russian émigré to France who becomes involved in an attempt to block shipment of oil on the Danube. In the course of putting together his team of amateurs he falls in love with the wife of a Vichy diplomat, a fellow resistant. The ending seems perfectly suited to the times through which we are living: His mission fails when he is betrayed. He escapes and finds refuge with his love in a chateau near Istanbul. The story ends with our hero in stasis, temporarily safe from the Nazis who pursue him but unable to contribute much to the war’s outcome. Soberly, I turned to the next book in the pile: “Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War” by Max Hastings, who offers an unvarnished chronicle of inept national and military leadership.
I wore my mask to Farm and Fleet to have the battery in the van replaced. I went in on a Friday afternoon and they told me that they were booked solid, but that if I brought in the van Saturday morning at nine, they could get it done. I left the battery hooked to a charger all night just to be safe and walked in the door exactly at 9 wearing my mask. I wandered around Farm and Fleet surprised at the few numbers of people wearing masks including the checkout clerks who stand behind plastic shields. I stood on the “X” marked on the floor to maintain appropriate distancing before moving up to buy my $4.88 shirt and bag of cat food. (My leg throbbed as I paid for the latter.)
I got back to the Auto Center in time to watch the sullen, sharp-tongued receptionist put the new battery in my van. She came back to the office in time to tell an African-American man that they were booked all the rest of the day and all day Monday as well. He left dispirited by her dismissive tone as much as by the disappointing news. “I wish I were home, too,” she muttered. I imagine it is hard to sit all day and tell people that there is no room at the inn. She had obviously made an exception for me because my battery was easy to get to and she could do it herself. She said they couldn’t do it Friday because the mechanic was at lunch. I would have been more comfortable had she shown the African-American man more sympathy, but she seemed adverse to connecting with any customer on a personal level.
Perhaps she has had it with COVID-19 as well. There is no plastic shield in the Auto Center at Farm and Fleet. She wore no mask. Perhaps grease is as anti-viral as the president’s favorite anti-malaria drug. Perhaps her business is business and everything else is just noise. I don’t know. I am happy to have a new battery but am left wondering if the man in need ever found someone to look at his car.
A disproportionate number of people with coronavirus are black. If I can get a battery exceptionally, would I get a COVID-19 test or treatment exceptionally as well? I sure hope not. I read a letter to the editor this morning that blamed all of society’s ills on Democrats. The letter next to it blamed it all on President Trump. Both stupid letters. I believe wholeheartedly that right now we can’t afford stupid. In a time of crisis, I look for wisdom. I wish Queen Elizabeth spoke more.