Time for the Wednesday expedition. Mask on, walk the empty streets, cross whenever someone’s coming, all that. The only people downtown were dog walkers and construction workers.
I felt silly wearing the mask the first time; now it’s just what it is. And that is an overreaction, but hey, better safe than full of those spiny red bastards. It was a cold day, and my breath fogged up my glasses. Since I knew where I was going, it wasn’t a problem, really - oh hey, text, right, group chat about the podcast, what is it -
Then in a trice, perhaps two thirds of a trice, I was on the ground, but not entirely on the ground, since I had walked into a concrete plinth for an electrical transformer. Managed to hold on to my phone, too. Got up, feeling foolish, knee sending out a silent peal of distress; did that thing were you look back with amused curiosity - say, what did cause that pratfall, aside from my own inattention? No one around to see me; I was the tree that had fallen in the forest.
Walked to the far construction location, took my picture, and avoided the Nicollet Mall on the way back because people mil around the Mall, and who knows, who knows. A bus passed; one passenger. The empty light-rail train slid past. A security guard crossed the street, smiling for some reason, looking as if he hadn’t a care.
About a block from my car I looked down at my lanyard. I wear my press badge in a plastic sleeve in case I’m stopped, which I doubt will ever happen, because what the hell is this? Seriously, what the hell is this?
Then I thought, well, I’m a good citizen who keeps up on all the news about the situation, understands the fallibility of human systems, trusts the dedicated medical experts to speak the truth, filters it all through the belief that proximity to an event produces both insight and blindness to concerns that seem peripheral, and knows that success in avoiding the worst predictions doesn’t mean the war is won: I understand what’s going on. Don’t like it, chafe at the restrictions, worry about the long-term effects, but I understand.
Also me: what the SAMUEL J. HELL ARE WE DOING HERE
Me: bear down. Halfway through. May will open like the petals of a flower and we’ll claw back what we’ve lost.
Also me: I AM CONCERNED I WILL BE ASKED FOR MY PAPERS FOR WALKING DOWNTOWN ON A WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON
Me: but you weren’t. Look, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Also me: Okay, I’ll stop shouting. You know some people are saying that it has to go longer. There are grave heads on TV saying 18 months. The longer this goes on, the more the collateral damage accrues, and at some point things are going to be busted - not in actual reality, but in people’s minds. Things that were certain will not be certain anymore; lines that were blurry will be erased; liberties that were curtailed will be restored but with an asterisk hovering them.
Me: I get it. I’d love to go to a restaurant, but to be honest I wonder if I would, because you don’t know if the tables are socially distanced, you know?
Also me: do you remember the last time you went out to eat? It was about 12 days before the hammer came down. The restaurant was full. Jammed. Everyone was talking and laughing and eating and drinking. No one was socially distancing. If there was a good time for the virus to be swirling around, I’d say it was then. Does the current case load suggest in any way that the virus was saturating that restaurant? Do you think it’ll be worse after a month of hunkering?
Me: Two weeks. We can do two weeks.
Also me: Give them a fortnight, and they’ll take a month. Fight the future!
Me: That’s an X-files movie title.
Also me: exactly. Ask yourself: WHAT WOULD MULDER SAY?
Me: he’d be smart enough to listen to Scully’s expertise. She was a doctor.
Also me: but he’d convince Scully to listen to her doubts.
Me: but her skepticism never took root, and she’d be all “but Mulder” the next week. I mean, he pulled her out of a spaceship in the movie and as far as I know it never came up again.
Also me: hey, if you were hanging around with Scully and she didn’t want to talk about it, you wouldn’t bring it up. Just keep it quashed and enjoy hanging around with Scully.
Anyway, the lanyard. The plastic pouch was empty. My work ID was gone.
There was a chance it had shot out when I fell down, so I went back to the transformer.
All in all, a good day.