So I wasn’t expecting to work today because, as I mentioned yesterday, both Lyft and Uber had me out of commission pending background checks. Which meant today was a day for taking care of shit.
I had a Zoom appointment at 9:00 am which went as intended and then set out. It’s May 9th and it was snowing. It was well above freezing so I wasn’t terribly worried about it sticking (it had also snowed, less significantly, yesterday).
I plodded on to my favorite vegan restaurant where I buy coffee. As I entered, the father of the family that runs the place was telling another customer he might open if the governor didn’t “lighten up,” meaning he’s threatening to go back to being a full service, dine-in restaurant. The customer noted that the district attorneys in a couple counties (Washington is not among them) had announced they would not prosecute businesses violating the governor’s orders.
Indeed, this is becoming quite a thing. It’s no longer just white supremacist gun nuts advocating letting the old and weak die. Some elected officials are joining the movement, meaning a number of Pennsylvania counties may soon be in open defiance of the governor’s orders.
The customers got their drinks and left. And of course, I called out the old man—I’m older than he is—for advocating policies that effectively mean letting the old and the weak die. But I also criticized the government for failing to come to the aid of small businesses and the working class. I didn’t say it to him, but this is just where I thought we would be, with the capitalist god demanding and getting human sacrifice.
I got my extremely excellent breakfast calzone and ate it in my car, then went on to Whole Foods for some badly needed grocery shopping, including breakfast entrees and other stuff I can’t find elsewhere, where I had to stand in line in a biting cold to get in. That I needed to do this really hasn’t sunk in for me because the Whole Foods Market in Upper Saint Clair is the only store where I’ve actually had to do it, and I’m doing a lot of my shopping at Giant Eagle now, or at the Whole Foods in Pittsburgh. Fortunately, I had my windbreaker and, fortunately, I still had my winter gloves in the pockets. With the hood, the windbreaker fully zipped up, and the gloves, I was fine, even with my usual mere sandals on my feet.
I took care of a couple more details, including a car wash. At which point, on a lark, I tried the driver apps. Lyft still has me unapproved, but it turned out Uber let me go online. So I drove for Uber this afternoon, substantially alleviating yesterday’s fears.
I don’t know why Uber allowed me to go online. I suppose it could be that the background check was completed in record time, but I thought they used the same outfit as Lyft. Tomorrow is another day. We’ll see if I can still go online.
But among my fares this evening was a young Black man I picked up in Elizabeth Borough. His question to me, while getting in my car, was what I thought of this “corona shit.” Back to letting the old and the weak die. And when I explained that to him, it was the end of the conversation. Because our age gap is even greater than with the restaurant owner.
There is a very, very widespread backlash against Tom Wolf’s lockdown. I’m inclined to think he’s doing the right thing in being as cautious as the political situation will allow, and maybe even a little more so. And I should also emphasize that what I see while on the road, pretty much exclusively in the greater Pittsburgh metropolitan area, will disproportionately reflect those who defy his orders rather than those who abide by them. But my guess is that Pennsylvania will be a red state this November.
Largely because both parties in Washington, D.C., failed to come to the aid of the working class and small businesses. And in very significant part because the Democrats are really just fine with Donald Trump winning reelection.
Charles Thompson, “Two central Pa. counties say they plan to reopen ahead of Gov. Wolf’s schedule,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, May 8, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/05/dauphin-lebanon-county-officials-declare-themselves-ready-to-reopen-say-they-will-break-from-gov-wolfs-plan.html
Jana Benscoter, “Dauphin, York DAs, say they won’t take immediate action against businesses that reopen in defiance of state order,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, May 9, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/05/dauphin-york-das-say-they-wont-take-action-against-businesses-that-reopen-in-red-phase-counties.html
Charles Thompson, “A growing number of Pa. counties test Gov. Tom Wolf’s emergency powers, saying they’ll decide if it’s time to reopen,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, May 9, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/05/a-growing-number-of-pa-counties-test-gov-tom-wolfs-emergency-powers-saying-theyll-decide-if-its-time-to-reopen.html
Erica Werner, Jeff Stein, and Heather Long, “Confronted with horrendous jobs report, White House and congressional Democrats aren’t even talking,” Washington Post, May 9, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/05/09/confronted-with-horrendous-jobs-report-white-house-congressional-democrats-arent-even-talking/