People say our lives will be discussed “B.C.” (before COVID-19) and “A.C.” (after COVID-19). I would like to add “D.C.” (during COVID-19) with its moments of anxiety, wonder and life lessons.
Our first D.C. moment came when our daughter and son-in-law set a curfew for us. My husband and I might have set a midnight curfew when our daughter was growing up, but now she has a 24-hour curfew for us. When we told her our friends were going out and shopping, our daughter said: “Just because they are going, you don’t have to. They probably go from 7 to 8 in the morning when the stores open just for seniors. You aren’t up that early. We can buy what you need.”
The younger generation can manage isolation as long as they have their buddy, “Cell,” with them. Our daughter doesn’t realize my need to use manufacturer’s coupons before their expiration dates, my need to touch and squeeze fresh eggplant, smell cilantro and look for sales.
Finally, we figured out when our quarantine watchers were going to be teaching, or in a meeting via Zoom, and sneaked out to the store. I went to buy toilet paper but stared at the empty shelves. I wondered if COVID-19 caused upset stomach. Or, during a crisis, toilet paper rolls take the place of security blankets? I understand why people would hoard sanitizers, canned goods and toilet paper, even alcoholic beverages, during this COVID-19 crisis.
However, when I read that gun sales are booming, I couldn’t see the logic in it. Did the gun and ammunition collectors plan on shooting the virus? President Trump had assured us there was nothing to fear: This virus was a Democratic “hoax.” No wonder the gun lobby panicked that Democrats will confiscate their guns in the name of COVID-19.
When our Great Leader noticed that this hoax was getting bigger and better, he started his own show. We could have watched New York Gov. Cuomo’s fact-filled news updates, but who needs facts in the time of COVID-19? The president’s show made us laugh, and laughter is the best medicine.
President Trump is so proud of his newest form of campaign rally that he bragged that his show has better ratings than “The Bachelor.” We learned from the show that the president knows more than the doctors from CDC and NIH. He has a gut feeling (that explains the toilet paper shortage) that a malaria drug can cure COVID-19. He told us that COVID-19 tests are available for everyone. In the absence of a National Security Agency’s Office of Pandemic Response, we have to trust the president.
The next lesson I learned wasn’t funny at all. When healthcare providers needed ventilators and personal protective equipment, Jared Kushner declared that the masks in the federal stockpile are theirs and not for the states. To obtain PPE, the administration created a free enterprise system where the states had to bid against each other and outbid the federal government.
I thought we lived in the United States of America but I learned that we are in the divided states — red and blue, with Republican governors and Democratic governors. Our leader decided to send more PPE to Florida instead of New York, California and Washington. I wondered what would happen if the states that are managing on their own stop sending their revenues to the IRS.
Among these negatives, I learned positive lessons from several heroes. Many thanks to the selfless work of our health care providers, first responders, grocery clerks, pharmacists and their staff, postal service workers, food banks and their distributors, restaurants that deliver meals, teachers who reach out to students online, and volunteers who sew masks and help the elderly and children. I salute these heroes who are rising to the occasion during these difficult times and keeping the country going. But I must stop because it is time for my entertainment show — the president’s coronavirus briefing.
Hemlata Vasavada emigrated from India in 1968 and considers herself a Washingtonian. She and her husband moved from Skagit Valley to Pullman six years ago to enjoy her daughter and her family.