The New Normal

Last night the special on TV thanked the nurses, doctors, policemen, delivery men, grocery store workers, restaurant workers, mail carriers, truckers, etc, etc.

Nobody thanked the farm workers.

A week ago I was driving back from Monterey in a light rain. As I passed the fields on either side of the freeway, I saw the telltale trucks with the portable Caibos, Honey Buckets, Porta Potties, whatever you want to call them. I glanced to the right and saw the workers spread out for good social distancing, going down the rows of lettuce, each one wielding a hoe to get the weeds.

In the rain.

During a lockdown.

On the other side of the freeway, there was another group of farm workers, doing something similar. It’s too soon for the back-breaking picking season. It’s only April.

Some of my neighbors are complaining that gardeners are not essential, and that people shouldn’t be using them. Gardeners, like farm workers, work for themselves, most likely for minimum wage and with no health insurance, unless they are signed up for Covered California, also known as Obama Care.

At ay rate, people like farm workers, gardeners, or CVS employees are showing up for work to keep the rest us in fruits and vegetables, manicured lawns, hair dye and Rx orders.

Speaking of hair dye, the sign this morning at CVS said 2 for $17.00. But when I carried the two boxes of hair color up to the register, the checker told me I could only buy one. She set the darker blonde color box aside and proceeded to ring up the lighter blonde color box. I asked her to switch them, and she was surprised that I was going to buy two different shades.

What do I know? I’ve been letting other people choose my hair color for a decade. Doing it myself is going to be kind of wild and crazy, but I am awfully tired of the stripe on my head and graying hair at the temples. I am starting to look like the senior citizen that I am — good if you want to get into Costco early, bad if you want to pretend that you’re not in the risky group for Covid-19.

Those out protesting the lockdown are only extending the length of it for the rest of us. Or maybe they are speeding it up if they all become infected and earn those antibodies for immunity. We’ll be that much closer to herd immunity.

But I digress.

Bill Gates said on Ellen last week that until there is a vaccine, the population of the Earth is not protected. Vaccines are in the works but months (or years) away from being approved.  Now Bill Gates is a scapegoat for Trumpers who believe this is starting to smell like a conspiracy.

Yes, Bill Gates is a wealthy man. He is also the biggest philanthropist in the country (along with his wife, Melinda). I don’t think he is trying to profit from the pandemic. I do think he is smart enough to listen to, and if his advice aligns with Dr Fauci’s, all the better.

This isn’t Dr. Fauci’s first rodeo. He knows what he’s talking about.

Of course we want to get back to normal. But we don’t always get what we want, especially when a once-a-century pandemic comes along to turn our lives upside down.



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