Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Stay at home, just don’t get too used to it

Kitchen, by Liza Lou (Whitney Museum of American Art)

                                  “Stay home as much as possible”
                                                — Centers for Disease Control

     I’m embarrassed to admit, when first reading that CDC advice for “older adults,” my reaction was to spin a joke, adding, “... groan audibly when rising from chairs, and complain incessantly about how young people today don’t have a work ethic.”
     Because older people are already there. Staying home as much as possible is a marker of age as much as the calendar. That, and complaining.
     But it isn’t much of a joke if you have to explain. Yes, older adults have caution down cold, no urging from the federal government necessary. We old folks always act like airborne death is waiting right outside the front door. Mortality rears up when we contemplate almost any activity. I have not actually said to my boys, “For God’s sake, don’t go anywhere or do anything.” But I’ve thought it, and opened my mouth to say it, then held back.
     You could try spinning that into a virtue. Argue that excess of caution is how you live to be old in the first place. Though cautious myself, I retain just enough trace afterglow of youth to view that as a liability. All this fretting about the weather. My parents do it so much that I flinch at the idea of carrying an umbrella. It seems a defeat; leaving it behind strikes a blow against timidity.
     Notice I include myself as “old.” What is an “older adult” anyway? The CDC isn’t much help. A page called “Indicator definitions—older adults” includes both “persons aged ≥ 65 years” (not me) and “Older adults aged 50-64 years” (definitely me). I’m tempted to trot out the “you’re as old as you feel” chestnut. But I knew a man who was 102 and didn’t consider himself old. Spoiler alert: He was.
     Events seem to be hurtling past the “older adults” distinction anyway. Literally while I was writing the above, the Sun-Times told employees it is planning a one-day work-from-home test for most newsroom staff.
     Yes sir! As someone who has worked from home, to a greater or lesser degree, for decades, I welcome my brethren. Any advice to my newly homebound colleagues? Remember to shower once a day, whether you are going out or not, as an ablutionary gesture toward civilization.

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8 comments:

  1. So Funny! I can’t picture you with a lap rug and flyswatter! Yes, older folks are typically more cautious about things and that’s just common sense for the most part — unless they are real old and are over cautious. As far as young folks, they are fearless. If something bad is going to happen, they have no doubt it won’t be to them. Glad you are getting out and about, Neil. You are too vital to be over-the-hill . . . yet. Start worrying about it when you reach 85!

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  2. It is mass hysteria. What if the Chinese said nothing? Some people would have gotten sick on the cruise ship (Like that doesn’t happen already.). A very small number of older people around the world would have died from respiratory symptoms after suffering flu-like symptoms. A “flu” would be going around.
    What if every time someone died of respiratory problems resulting from the flu, would it make national news?
    I never agree with anything Trump says. It’s just a coincidence. He knows nothing about the virus. He’s doing it to prevent the economy from tanking. I’m saying it because it is true.

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  3. It’s a good opportunity to curl up with a good novel. I recommend DeFoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year.

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  4. And toilet paper, pray tell the toilet paper. Make sure to stock up, you can never have enough, I'm leaving for a speed run to the store to buy more, even as I type, before someone else gets the last roll. And don't forget hand sanitizer. I already have a five year supply for the last couple of years, at least that's one less thing to worry about.

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  5. I think people whose business it is to study epidemics have the tools to distinguish the differing natures of the illnesses and the virus causing them. And it's reasonable for them to project a worst case scenario in which thousands die. It is true that thousands do die from the flu, but that number is greatly mitigated by the fact that, in first world countries at least, vaccination offers some protection. A vaccine against this new bug is at least a year out. And we do not have anti-viral drugs.

    Tom

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  6. Those in the know are warning geezers to stay home because they're at serious risk. At the same time, young people are unconcerned because kids have always believed they're invincible and immortal. Why else would I have driven at 115 MPH at sixteen? Those old Chrysler engines made you feel like a fighter pilot.

    An online story from NBC yesterday talked about college students itching to travel, even in the face of the clear and present danger. They're staring the deadly virus in the face and saying, "Whatever, dudes."

    Flight schedules are being scaled down. Airlines watch their stocks plunge, and they're now offering incredible deals to people who usually can't fly. High-risk, high-reward, young people are saying.

    "If the coronavirus gets even like more serious and like wipes out a large amount of people, I might as well be somewhere...and like...having fun," one twentysomething told NBC. "There is no fun in like staying at home and like being all worried," she said.

    The CDC is telling geezers and the chronically ill to stay home, even as young people feel now is their time to fly. So what if they possibly spread the virus to somebody else's parents or grandparents? The kids' trips might save the airline industry because they're so willing to be "risking it all" for a dream trip.

    They're even cracking jokes about their new-found opportunities on social media. One kid from the UK tweeted that the virus was not going to stop him from traveling: "Coronavirus has got Boomers stocking their doomsday bunkers... meanwhile Millennials are online shopping...five-island trip just booked on Spirit for $130. I'm deadly serious." Ha ha...very funny. You slay me. Maybe literally.

    "I don't plan on putting my life on hold because something is going around," another kid tweeted to NBC. "Okay, I know the world is in a state of panic, but flights are cheap as [f-word] so I get to see my grams for her birthday. If I die, I die. I miss my family."

    Way to go, kid. Bring your grams a terrific birthday gift...like maybe a miserable death? Meanwhile, I'm stocked up on TP and I'm laying in three-month stashes of my meds. You fly and die, kids. I'm old, so I'll hunker in my bunker. I have books and tapes and DVDs and I'll stay connected through my devices. I might even outlive you.

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  7. I guess at 73 I am a geezer. We took more of risk by flying to Phoenix yesterday. The plane was full. We came here for a week for spring training and meet a friend who was coming from Atlanta. Now that spring training has been cancelled along with every other sport, We are going home tomorrow. At least if we get sick we will be home instead of being quarantined here for a while. While I think you have to live your life I think you have to take this seriously. At the moment there is no cure and by going out you risk getting infected or getting other people infected. And it is no fun getting sick. This is much worse than your common cold. I think I am relatively healthy for a person of 73. It is hard to see millions of people dying here, but you never know. Really have no sense so far as to how dangerous this is.

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