I encounter a Coronavirus conundrum on the street. Your thoughts?
Love the feel-good stories of people in crisis. But if it gets bad, there is a dark side
I am an unabashed fan of heart-warming stories. I doubt you can find someone who enjoys having his heart warmed more than me.
Accordingly, during the Coronavirus pandemic I have watched the videos of people singing opera from balconies. I have seen people who shopped for seniors or donated medical supplies. Great to see.
But what if this is just the start? So far, this has been like a made-for-TV movie. We see the numbers. We know they are serious. But statistically it is not likely you or I have been infected, nor know someone who has.
That will almost certainly change. On Monday U.S. health officials announced a scary milestone — 100 Coronavirus deaths in one day. If the virus hits close to home, it will make it real, personal and threatening. Which sometimes doesn’t reveal our best selves.
Here’s a little vignette I saw the other day and have been playing out in my head ever since.
I am coming up a wide-treelined walkway in our neighborhood. Ahead of me is an Asian couple, probably in their 60s. The man pulls out a Kleenex, blows his nose and drops the tissue on the ground.
A few weeks ago I probably would have rolled my eyes. C’mon dude. I’ve even used a doggie poop bag to pick up something like that to throw it away without touching it.
But now? The Kleenex wasn’t litter. It was a potential virus carrier, in the open, in a busy public space. Was I supposed to — in heartwarming fashion — safely pick up the Kleenex and remove the threat? Or should I just keep going like a selfish jerk who didn’t want to get involved?
And here’s the interesting part — the part I am still thinking about.
A woman maybe in her 40s, wearing a mask and leading a small dog, came straight at the couple with her hand out in a “stop” gesture. I couldn’t hear the words, but she was clearly directing the woman (not sure why she didn’t speak to the guy) to go back and pick up the tissue.
The woman looked confused, then a little irritated and then, I thought, embarrassed. She went back, got the Kleenex and put it in the trash. And everybody walked on.
Now it would be easy to find people to say the dog-walking woman was absolutely correct. And there’s no debating the result. That tissue shouldn’t have been dumped on the ground.
But I’m sure you’ve also seen stories about overt racism to Asians. This New York Times story tells of a young Asian woman who was spat upon while waiting for a bus. The kicker? The incident was in San Francisco.
So I’m a little hesitant to applaud the tissue police. I don’t know what it was, but there had to be a way to have a successful, but less confrontational, interaction. Those are the kinds of choices in tone that mean a lot when we’re stressed.
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If this gets bad, the words to watch for are: “This is no time for . . .” Followed by something like, “niceties” or “manners” or “political correctness.” It is as if people are using the crisis as license to be their own worst person.
Even now people are making panicky choices. Over the weekend there was a short line at the grocer because of a foolish run on essentials. (Honestly, I never thought I’d discuss toilet paper so much in my life.)
Anyhow, I’m standing in line and guy rushes up and before he’s even out of the crosswalk he started firing questions at the guy stocking the mangos.
“So I suppose the meat is all gone!” he said loudly.
The stocker was clearly caught by surprise. I’m not even sure he heard the question. But it must have seemed like “yes,” was a safe answer, so that’s what he said.
“That’s what I thought!” the guy barked disgustedly and turned and walked away.
Two minutes later they let me in. The butcher shelves were full of meat.
The point is, maybe we don’t have to sing an aria to lend hope and care. Maybe just hearing more from friends and family. Reaching out. It means a lot.
Complicated, heart-warming stories are great. And we’re going to need them. But at the core of it all, the one thing that always makes us feel better, is simple human contact.
At a distance of six feet.
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And now, for something completely different. Jimmy G and the “Faithful”
It wasn’t so long ago that Jimmy Garopollo was minutes away from winning the Super Bowl. He’d taken the 49ers to a 13-3 regular season record, back-to-back playoff games wins, and then to the Big Game.
So you’d think it would be laughable that Tom Brady — 42 years old and 43 in August — would be a good choice to replace Jimmy G. But there were those who thought he was.
After all but sizing up Garoppolo for a bronze statue after his first year, the fans have begun to express doubts.
Which is a reminder that for a group that bills itself as “The Faithful,” they sure jump ship in a hurry.
In my Santa Rosa Press Democrat sports column we talk about Jimmy vs. Tommy (Jimmy, definitely) and also go back and take a second look the Super Bowl. (That was a helleva game.)
The conclusion? Garopollo went to the Super Bowl full of hype and hope. He left bitterly disappointed after losing.
Do you know how many quarterbacks that happens to?
One a year.
We don’t realize how much we dislike Trump
I thought this story in The Atlantic made some really good points about the difference between getting way into the weeds in political polling compared to looking at the larger picture.
The writer is Stanley Greenberg, who admits right up front he’s a Democratic pollster to give you the let-the-buyer-beware moment.
But he begins with the kind of number that has Democrats banging their heads on the table — a CBS News poll found that “65 percent of Americans and more than a third of the democrats” think Donald Trump will win a second term in office.
And then Greenberg goes about systematically showing you why, not only is a Trump re-election hardly a sure thing, he says, “The United States is in revolt against Donald Trump.”
There’s lots in here and if you are interested I would recommend it. But the crux of his argument is Trump is not as popular as he thinks — and Democrats fear. Greenberg reminds us of the Blue Wave in 2018, Trump’s unpopularity with black voters and the loss of support of white, working women who took a flyer on Trump in 2016.
I’d say Greenberg’s message is: Be of good cheer. It isn’t as bad as you think.
Always good to hear.
Contact C.W. Nevius at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ideas, comments and compliments gladly accepted. Criticism not so much. Twitter: @cwnevius