Idiocy in the Time of the Coronavirus



5:00 AM - The alarm clock goes off at an ungodly hour. I hit it to turn it off. It only plays Beethoven's Fifth louder. So I hit it again and again. Then I wash my hands. I get up, put on gloves, and wash my hands. Then I open the window, look out into the darkness, remember that I got up so early to go shopping. And groan.

I put on my ski mask.

"Let's do this," I tell my sleeping wife in a poor imitation of Edward G. Robinson doing Al Capone.

Then I wash my hands again.



5.30 AM - I stagger groggily down an empty street. A huge poster looms overhead. "Stay at home," a cartoon bear dressed in drag announces. "We're in this together."

I pass a shuttered hair salon. Mucinex has paid some illegal aliens minimum wage to paste up posters on its windows. "Listen to facts, not opinion. Don't touch your ears. You're safer at home."

It's a good thing a major corporation is paying people to leave their homes and put up posters telling everyone to stay home.

If the hair salon ever does reopen, Mucinex will not be paying to remove its smug thinly disguised ads. That will be yet another burden on another small business.

A bus passes. Unlike everything else, public transportation hasn't been banned. Its sound system blares. "Stay home. We're in this together."

"Who's we," I wonder.



5:50 A.M. - I get to the local supermarket of a multinational conglomerate that shall remain nameless just as the last of the seniors are leaving with their haul of cardboard toilet paper made in Indonesia.

The line to get in crosses the entire breadth of the shopping plaza. Posters warn that no one without a mask will be allowed inside.

To promote social distancing, only one person per 1,000 store feet will be allowed inside. Outside, 40 people are lined up with hardly any distance between them.

It's illegal to go to a synagogue or a church, but these are the new communal prayers of people crammed into a small space and hoping to be allowed inside to buy food.

And not catch something while waiting.

Finally, Blue America is discovering what life under socialism is like.



6:20 A.M - The line has hardly moved at all. I consider trying to make a minyan on the line and wonder if my religious activity will immediately be deemed non-essential and I'll be arrested.

Fortunately, because of the ski mask, I'm given plenty of space.

I'm the only one wearing a black ski mask in Southern California and I stick out a little bit among the line full of Californians wearing colorful surgical masks as if everyone had fulfilled their mothers' dreams and gone into medicine. The ski mask is a legacy of a trip to Chicago during a polar vortex.

It's the only mask I own.



6:40 A.M - I shouldn't be here.

I'm not short of toilet paper or hand sanitizer. I've been preparing for the apocalypse since I was thirteen. I buy in bulk as a reflex. I have enough toilet paper to last until the election and enough hand sanitizer to be busted by the People's Redistribution Committees going door to door to spot hoarders. Nobody's going to be making toilet paper when we're all living under the cannibal warlords.

But eventually the soul pines for some fresh fruit. And you can't eat hand sanitizer. Not even if you add lemon.



6:50 A.M -  Someone has passed out inside the store. Two ambulances arrive and everyone is evacuated from the store. A store employee has to pry toilet paper out of one evicted woman's hands. Since the package was ripped, the toilet paper has  to be thrown away. There are audible gasps on the line.

Thus far, coronavirus hasn't killed anyone in a supermarket, but standing on line has probably sent someone to the hospital.

The posters on the walls of the nameless conglomerate declare, "We are all in this together."




7:10 A.M- The line begins moving again. I can hardly see it though. Or anything at all through the mask.

Unfortunately they're checking not only for masks, but taking temperatures, and wearing a ski mask meant for a Chicago winter in SoCal has sent my temperature rising too high.

"Sir, you can't go in," a morbidly obese store employee says, spitting out the 'sir' as if it were a poppy seed caught in her teeth.

"Why not?" I demand.

"Your temperature's too high. See, it's 99," she points one thick finger at a digital readout that actually says, "Battery low."

"99 is within the normal human range," I retort.

"Not for nameless multinational conglomerate," says the line commissar, who is of that breed meant to be checking id's and telling people that they can't have things while making "Sir" and "Ma'am" sound like slurs.

"My temperature's only this high because I'm wearing a ski mask. Can I take it off?" I ask.

"Take it off and we can't let you in the store," she snaps. "Now move along. People are waiting."

The line behind me growls with the unfulfilled aspirations of the proletariat for toilet paper.

"I can't get into the store because of my mask and you won't let me in the store without it," I follow up, trying to understand the exact logical parameters of the Catch 22.

"Yep."

"But the mask is my religion. I'm Muslim."

"Uhh go on in."




7:15 A.M - The store is almost empty except for the produce and dairy sections which are packed.

Hungry faces look through the windows, imploring me with their wide eyes to get them some toilet paper.

A greeter at the entrance puts a jealously guarded dab of hand sanitizer on my gloves and tells me, "We're all in this together."

"Two legs bad, four legs good," I reply.

The produce section is reasonably stocked if you like diseased avocados and strawberries that were frozen during the Great Depression as part of FDR's Great Strawberry Reserve project. The only toilet paper is some see-through stuff made from recycled copies of the Whole Earth Catalog. Not that I need any. My neighbor subscribes to the New York Times. The Times isn't on display here, but Prepper Magazine is. I had no idea land mines and MREs were so cheap now.

Every 5 seconds, the loudspeaker blares, "We're all in this together. And sometimes together is apart."

People elbow past each other in the produce section. Meanwhile every synagogue and church within 50 miles has been shut down.

Thank Newsom.



7.30 A.M - I only got half the things I wanted. And they're the wrong half. But at least there's no line for the cash register.

I head to the self-checkout line, where plexiglass barriers protect the machine and me from giving each other any diseases. An automatic sprayer hits me in the face with disinfectant and then sprays every single piece of produce I bought with toxic chemicals.

For my protection.

After every poisoned product is scanned and every inflated price is read off, in a smug robotic voice, the self-checkout machine proclaims, "We're all in this together."



7:40 A.M - I'm finally out of the nameless supermarket. I weave past a vast line of people. And they begin to cheer as they haven't cheered for any of the "heroic health care workers".

Has the line begun to move? No.

Then I finally realize it. I'm the only shopper leaving the supermarket with no toilet paper. I've left some toilet paper for the starving masses.

For them.

Tears run down my eyes at the tribute.

And then I wash my hands.


Post a Comment

16 Comments

  1. Anonymous19/4/20

    Great to know that the acerbic Warsaw Pact wit
    still blossoms! The vapid slogans, compulsive
    hoarding borne of insecurity, petty tyrants,
    waste of time and human dignity. Now that this
    Orwell Hell is thrusting itself at us, let’s
    turn this poison fruit into the sweetest and
    healthiest lemonade.

    Now we’re living the “Workers Paradise” and it
    really sucks! Greenfield, Crowder, Owens, Prager,
    Watson, Tatum, Dice: All you brilliant, funny,
    lovable creators, please connect our lived dose
    of collectivism with its capitalist cure.

    The repeated flirtation with Marx is finally
    toast. The vaccine is ready.

    Charlie

    ReplyDelete
  2. This infection has changed everyone's life. Nothing will be as it was before the restrictive measures were abolished. Governments around the world have never so far restricted the movement and freedom of the people. How do you think this will affect our psyche in time?

    ReplyDelete
  3. That was awesome! Thanks for writing and remember: We’re all in this together

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm still finding it hard to process how in the blink of an eye we got from "two weeks to slow the spread" to "unending Orwellian nightmare."

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous19/4/20

    Thanks, needed a chuckle!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous19/4/20

    Brilliant!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Daniel that sounds vile. In Bangkok here, at least in Chinatown we don't care much, we talk to each other as usual, [ or at least the Thai people do ] and just carry on as normal. I'm putting on weight because, they have closed my swimming pool, and with the boredom of SARS-COV-2 hysteria I just keep eating. It's weird, my home country New Zealand was in full conversion to Sharia love and socialism before this and, I would hope they would notice as you say > "Finally, Blue America is discovering what life under socialism is like" But our people are sheep and they agree to being penned up watching TV. I will obey my Government, I will obey my Government. My name is Karen.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Fantastic! I couldn't stop laughing! OMG Did I break some lips to remain together directive?? Thank you Daniel. BTW I'm in Montana and can't even get a real NY Jewish deli knish. Stay well and keep US laughing.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous19/4/20

    The Muslim dodge to get by the gatekeeper was good. You can also use the following in California:

    - If your mask is black: "I self-identify as African-American; are you discriminating against me?" Substitute Latino for a brown mask or Native American for a red one. Being Asian is no longer a sovereign defense as they are now being lumped in with Caucasians in the "Safe to discriminate against" groups in California. It has something to do with Asians as a group having both jobs and disposable income.

    - Look them straight in the eye and say "You are committing a micro-aggression against me since 99 is normal for me. Prejudice against the differently-temperatured is wrong and isn't tolerated in the PRK (People's Republic of Kalifornia).

    - You can also ask them why they are exercising their privilege against you. Since we are all in this together all privilege should have been checked at the door.

    - Another dodge is to ask for the manager and threaten to "cancel" the store on social media. Claim to be an elite member of the Twitter-ati with several hundred thousand followers. This will scare them to death. Particularly if you read their name tags off while you are doing it.

    - Pitch a hissy-fit while you film it with a selfie stick and tell them that their treatment has triggered you and this will be on Youtube by tonight.

    There are other dodges that work in the PRK but these are probably the easiest to pull off with no evidence needed. They'll let you in.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for the laugh. I really needed it!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Anonymous19/4/20

    "...the local supermarket of a multinational conglomerate that shall remain nameless..."
    you can name names. they'd appreciate the free advertising (cf. Mucinex)!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Roz Haddon19/4/20

    Thankyou for this! Laughed and laughed and then read it to my husband and we laughed again. Sharing the communist dream in Southern California.

    ReplyDelete
  13. If you've got your health and your sense of humor, you've got just about everything.

    ReplyDelete
  14. grandee20/4/20

    this was great--so funny. Love it and passed in on to family.

    but...

    it's true, isn't it.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Tabatha29/4/20

    Similar experience here in the UK. I wore a 'proper' medical mask and then almost passed out when I managed to locate some pasta and got so excited I started hyperventilating.

    And of course, nobody can hear you speaking when you wear these masks, so we all had to remove them when we got to the cashiers. She was busy hurling hand sanitiser all over herself every three seconds.

    ReplyDelete