By Bruce A. Smith
March 12, 2020, 8 pm.
Today has been peaceful. It’s been like a snow day without shoveling. Plus, the sun was shining – again (!) – and temperatures in Eatonville hovered near 60 degrees.
So, I drove into town to stock up on Vitamins C, B-6, and D-3, which I understand are immune boosters and viral blockers. I had taken so much Vitamin C during my three months of bronchitis that I was down to my last three tablets, and today’s trip was crucial. Ironically, I’m not a big fan of vitamins and health supplements, but I take them in the hope that they do something. Gawd knows that after three bouts of bronchitis I’ve got to take everything that makes sense and is affordable.
Also, I’m not sure how many more days I will be able to travel into town, or if stores will be open or have anything to sell. We seem to be on the tipping point of that scenario since Washington Governor Jay Inslee closed all public and private K-12 schools in the Puget Sound region today, and President Trump not only closed US borders to European travelers, he hinted that the feds might quarantine Washington and California because they are Covid “hot spots.”<
The whole world seems to be shutting down – Broadway went dark, Baseball is postponing its season, and Seattle’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese is canceling all masses. As a result, I wouldn’t be surprised if Seattle and Tacoma are also quarantined in the next day or two, either by federal edict, or Inslee’s, or even by these cities’ mayors.
But in downtown Eatonville, all appeared normal. The Mountain Coop was open and I was the only customer. They didn’t have vitamins, but they did have one 5-pound bag of basmati rice and some strange almond-milk yogurt, all of which I bought. The clerk didn’t have any protective gear on and I asked why.
“Oh, I wash my hands after every transaction,” said the young woman. “We’re wiping everything down and washing our hands like crazy. So much so that my skin is getting dried-out and cracked.”
We laughed a bit and commiserated on the “side-effects” of constant hand washing, as my hands are becoming irritated from so much exposure to bleach, even in diluted quantities. As a result, I’m beginning to see the value of hand sanitizers like Purell.
Afterwards, I tried my new post-retail protection protocol and wiped my hands and fingers with a towel from a bleach bath I keep in a little jar tucked into my Toyota’s coffee cup holder. The bleach smelled too strong and it stung my hands, so I tried to dilute it with water from a travel jug I keep on my front seat. But it was an awkward pour and I spilled half a cup on the seat and floor mats. Ug. Oh well, I’ll get the hang of it eventually….
I also wiped down the steering wheel and then stepped outside to sanitize my door handle in case I had carried anything out to me car from the Coop. This is gonna take a lot of time if I do this after every transaction I pondered. Then I drove off to get vitamins at our local drug store.
The crowd at Kirk’s Pharmacy in Eatonville was light. I was one of three or four customers, which is normal for a weekday afternoon. Fortunately, Kirk’s supply of vitamins was copious, which surprised me.
“I thought you folks might be sold-out by now,” I said to one of the clerks. “They say that Vitamin C is really helpful is fighting viral infections, and with everyone panic buying I was afraid your shelves would be stripped bare.”
“Nope. It’s business as usual here, and our shelves are full.” They were.
I had never spent forty bucks on vitamins before, but I figured this was no time to go cheap. Besides, I’ll be saving a lot of gas money since I won’t be driving anywhere… yeah, but I won’t be making any money, either, I thought to myself.
Next, I stopped at the bank drive-through window to get some cash. Don’t want to be out of cash and left high and dry if they shut everything down, I thought.
Afterwards, I headed to Plaza Market for mandarin oranges and a few groceries. People were in a good mood and I joked with the deli clerk that she had a great job. “You’re one of the few people who’s gonna be able to keep her job while staying safe. No one gets too close. The counter keeps us all away!”
She smiled, then said, “Plus, I can always leave your turkey roll on the counter and step back for a few more feet of protection.” We laughed.
Picking up on that vibe, the guy behind me leaped back and playfully said – “Don’t get too close to me!” We all laughed again.
Besides foodstuffs, I bought a few sundries that I might need in the next few weeks, like shampoo, dish sponges, and detergent. Plus, a roast for slow cooking over this weekend. I’m definitely gonna be home for awhile. Might as well eat well….
After arriving home, I began to field phone calls from friends and family. Philip called from Massachusetts to see how I was doing. Cousin Gay called from NYC to share the latest on life in the darkening Big Apple and enquire how life was faring for me in WA and my family on Long Island. Gay was anxious, very concerned about the economy and losing her job.
“The tourists are just not coming, not with all the bans,” she said. “What are we going to do?”
“Yeah, cuz. It’s gonna be tough. And I don’t think it’s gonna get better any time soon. But at least for now we have food on the table, heat, and a roof over our heads.” She concurred.
Next, I perused emails and saw a bunch from my friend and cohort, Steve Klein, the oft-mentioned editor of the Yelm Community Blog. He offered a few new links for information and one really disturbed me. It was an article in today’s New York Times that stated the total number of people tested for Covid in the entire United States since the outbreak started was only 3,000. That is shameful in my view, and I posted it immediately at the Mountain News in yesterday’s Covid Journal.
In addition, Steve offered this link from the AP, which delivers a great summation of the state of our country at this time:
Afterwards, I made a turkey sandwich and settled down to write these words. Life’s okay here. How about yours? Let me know, if you’d like. Comments are welcomed in the section below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be well. Keep safe.
The New Mexico Zia, a symbol from the Zia People that signifies for me the connection of life, people, beauty and hope. I consider it a sign for our times.
Yours truly at work at Action Central.
The following comes from Mountain News reader and friend, Luby M.:
What I didn’t write at the end of my last email was the following:
The life as I knew it would not be the same. I very seldom allow myself to feel sad because, after a rare disappointing event, I later see its value and its lessons. Now, looking in the future, I am starting to feel sad – about such a great life we all had for so, so long and not there any more.
Maybe the next one would be even greater, mostly due to the challenges it would pose, we will see.
Until not too distant future, I will enjoy what I have had and what I still have, and I encourage everyone to do the same!
Bless all of you who have been in my life!
Luby’s note above makes me recall something I felt earlier today. Covid is the biggest thing I have ever seen. It is the greatest natural disaster I have ever lived through or witnessed. Steve Klein says it is akin to 1890, 1918, or 1941. A very momentous time.