Scared New World

Welp, I made it three days.

I’ve no doubt that I’m good for weeks on end of self-imposed isolation, but once I’m told to stay home, my natural obstinacy kicks in.

Obviously.

Not that I haven’t been keeping track of the number of people I’ve been within 6 feet of at the same time.

Friday: 6

Saturday: 3

Sunday: 4

Remember, I drive for Lyft, too. My back seat is within my 6 foot bubble – so traffic is pretty far down back there. I’d definitely say that my back seat is performing worse than the stock market!

Saturday, I attempted to cajole the Silver Fox into a glass of wine at our local since he had told me that he’d already been cajoled by his sons into joining their mother in her self-imposed quarantine. Since he didn’t have a return date, I suggested a bon voyage drink. I also reminded him that he could be a carrier and spread the virus into his ex-wife’s safety perimeter.

That worked as well as my attempt to milk a wine out of him, so I ordered a pizza.

Five minutes later, he sent me a pic of a glass of wine at the bar around the corner.

C’mon!

Of course, I had to stay home and wait for my pizza to be delivered to my door – and then left for me to pick up once the driver had left.

Yesterday, I had plans to meet The Kids for coffee. However, after a Sunday morning of driving in a deserted downtown Portland, I canceled.

I had three rides in two hours. Sunday mornings are usually pretty slow, but that’s about 50% down from what I’d usually encounter. Usually people are leaving town and I’ll pick up a couple airport rides and maybe even a return from an arriving traveler. Perhaps a ride of pride, if I’m out early enough. For sure, I’ll pick up several brunchers.

Nope. Those days are over.

I took a guy to work at Laughing Planet – a local “good food” cafe.

I got called to a hotel near my place downtown. Pulling up, I expected it was either an airport run or a brunch drop off. Uh-uh…I was taking this traveling couple to pick up their car. They hadn’t even left it because they got hammered the night before. Nope, these shrewd millennial travelers were juking the system and instead of paying $40 a night to park their car at their boutique hotel, had left it on a residential street across the river where parking is free and Lyft-ed to their hotel and back for ~$10 total.

Including tip.

Smart!

And then I took a guy to work. Not a nurse, as I expected because of the time. He was going to work at NikeTown. When I mentioned he was going in pretty early for a Sunday, he told me there was a mandatory meeting to talk about Nike’s decision to close their stores until the Coronavirus was managed.

After that morning of trolling for rides along a deserted Broadway and MLK – which are busy thoroughfares, I thought maybe being out and about was at best, being foolhardy and at worst, being part of the problem.

So I canceled my coffee date with The Kids. Hell, the CDC had just updated its guidance for crowds from 250 to 50.

This morning was similar to yesterday. Still needing an income stream, I decided to drive the rush hour and at least help get some medical personnel to work. Usually, I’ll have at least one ride to a hospital or clinic in the mornings, probably two depending on my start time.

Sure enough, my first ride was at about 6:40 and was a nurse going up to Oregon Health Sciences University – OHSU for short. She was also the newest member of the 1% Club, people I’ve given more than one ride to.

However, after thanking her for all she does as she exited my car, I didn’t have another ride for 65 minutes. Again, the streets looked post-apocalyptic and I thought about going home. After pulling down $25 in two hours yesterday, I lamented my potential $5 Monday and stubbornly kept cruising.

Usually, my rule is to point my car homeward between rides and if I make it home, stop. That, or to shut it down if I go a half hour without a ride.

But I’m old, I’m getting rather good at stubborn.

One of the things I learned from The Fox while he was sipping his wine alone on Saturday evening was that our local had decided that day to reduce service to only five days a week from 5-9 pm. I was amazed, an emotion that turned to shock when I learned that they had furloughed about 70% of their staff along with that decision.

Of course, this turned out to be only hours ahead of the decision by Washington Governor Jay Inslee to close all bars and restaurants. An executive order that itself barely beat California governor Gavin Newsome’s decision to do the same in California.

That’s kind of what prompted my solo-coffee outing this morning. I know the seating at Nossa Familia is pretty scarce, and I figured with the way the city was looking, I wouldn’t have any trouble being socially distant.

I was not wrong.

Even when someone did show up – as it turned out, it was the customer behind me…the only other patron – but we were still plenty of feet apart. Of course, once she sat down, she made a show of dramatically clearing her throat.

Anyway, knowing Oregon’s own governor – Kate Brown – has promised her own decision on either a curfew or temporary end of service for Oregon’s bars and restaurants, I thought this could be my last chance to hang out in a coffee shop for a few weeks.

So here I am.

I’d invited The ‘Phew out for dinner tomorrow, doing my part to make sure that particular college kid has enough pizza in his diet to keep going. But now that’s seeming like it may not happen.

It would be a bummer if we had to put it off for the foreseeable future. I guess I could always invite myself to my parents for dinner and take him out with me…which would also be nice, but in a different way.

While all of this is going on and even sounds practical, it’s against the backdrop of exacerbated stupid American idiocy.

This was simultaneously hilarious and horrifying.

Hilarious, because Panic At The Costco brilliantly sends up both the name of the band – Panic At The Disco – and riffs on the one intelligible line from probably their best known chorus, which is a shouted

I chime in with “Haven’t you people ever heard of closing the goddamn door?”

Which some clever person co-opted by changing “closing the door” to “washing your hands”.

Horrifying because – well, lots.

First, because in 2020 we really are being confronted with how few people seem to actually understand the hows and whys of hand washing.

It’s pathetic.

Second, because Panic At The Costco is real. We’ve been seeing hoarding stories of toilet paper for a couple of weeks now. And that was before the shit really hit the fan last weekend.

Naturally, on top of Moronvirus, Portland weather decided to deliver snow last Saturday. Snow forecasts here will reliably strip a store of perishables. Add in an airborne virus and these stupid Americans will purge stores of all things crapping paper. Maybe it’s because their heads are so far up their asses that they suspect a runny nose could reasonably lead to diarrhea.

Who knows? I find it best to try and not understand this mindset too well. While I’m all for seeking to understand, somewhere in the back of my mind is my mom’s voice warning me about making faces when I was a kid.

What if my mindset gets stuck like TP Hoarders’ mind’s while I’m trying to find the logic in their actions?

I dunno. Maybe Stupid New World is a better name.

Scared.

Stupid.

Probably interchangeable in this current circumstance. Sadly, I am only reasonably certain that one of those adjectives will pass within the next month or so…

Scared New World