To paraphrase George Orwell: We are all in this together, but some of us are in it together more than others.
I’ve been reading articles and seeing clips from TV (or YouTube) where celebrities and people in general are bemoaning having to self-isolate. Or, as we used to call it, staying at home. Everyone from David Geffen to anonymous youtubers are bitching. I’m hearing what a chore it is to homeschool. People are listing the things they do so as not to go crazy. Reference after reference about binging on Netflix fill the airways. Well, buddy, not everyone can afford Netflix. Not by a long shot.
The next time your kids ask for the five thousandth time if you can play Candyland with them, think of the people on the front lines. The most obvious are the healthcare workers and hospital employees. Then come the EMS and cops. They can’t sit home. I know for the most part they’re getting their just due. And that’s the way it should be. But what about the little guy? What about the cashiers and grocery clerks that are going to work every day to keep us fed? And what about the poor people who are forced to go to those large fulfillment warehouses run by Amazon, Target, and their ilk? They can’t stay home or else they’d lose their jobs. No health insurance for them. And definitely no unemployment insurance. How are they gonna feed the kids and pay their rent?
Think how you would like it if you were forced to go out every day during this plague and have to aimlessly wander around a crowded store for eight hours. Think on how you’d feel hearing constant coughing and sneezing from adjacent aisles all during those eight hours.
That’s what these low-paid workers have to go through every day. And they’ve been doing so for well over two weeks now. They’re working cheek to jowl, so to speak. If the guy next to them coughs, there ain’t much they can do about it. They are scared to death. And I, for one, don’t blame them for being scared. Complaining to the boss does no good whatsoever. The boss is worried about his or her job, too. She has to keep those boxes getting filled and moving on down the line to shipping. Because her boss, sitting safely at home and running things from her computer, is keeping tabs on how many boxes are being shipped per hour.
And what are in those boxes that we so desperately need? Plastic flowers, a spatula to go with that new frying pan you bought yesterday, maybe a new workout outfit or a yoga mat.
I can tell you this: If those warehouse workers were sending out masks, gloves, or other items to keep us safe, I know they wouldn’t mind putting their lives at risk. But for travel gear that you can’t possibly use until this mess is over … really?
Oh shit … here come the kids. They’ll be wanting to play Candyland or Chutes and Ladders again.
Poor, poor pitiful me.