Quarantine Day #2

Joked this morning on Instagram that I only felt 8% crazy so far, but ten hours later my toes are poking at the edge of the abyss again. As I feared, our clients are now demanding that my boss freeze their marketing contracts with her due to the shitstorm kicking up across the planet, sending everyone scurrying inside for cover and slamming their wallets shut.

Headline: Confirmed U,S. Cases Doubled in Two Days

By the end of the day she’d made a couple of “adjustments” to our staffing, moving one PTer to contractor status, and a FT writer to PT. So far I’m untouched, but it’s hard to imagine that things won’t get way, way worse. For weeks now I’ve wondered to myself, like, if I were a boss, and I had one dude who was the best writer on the team but a bit of a quietly rebellious loner who divulged nothing about his personal life at work, and I had another writer, the fastest on the team, who was a personal friend that kissed my ass several times a day, at minimum five days a week (sometimes seven on Facebook), whom would I pick to stay?

Hard to make that call, from where I sit in quarantine, listening to my neighbor through the thin walls actively not practicing social distancing with family members visiting from a few towns away.

(I just got back from a short dog walk, hands freshly sanitized. I try to act like my hands would burn the skin from my face if I touched it. I still touch it.)

One of our more “important” clients is in the middle of their own COVID-19-related PR crisis, and I was asked to churn out a blog on the topic that would normally take me two and a half hours to write, but I kicked it out in one, with writing so good that she jumped on the instant messaging app to tell me that it brought tears to her eyes. Did that save my ass? For now? For a bit?

What kind of social posts to create for clients when nobody wants to leave their fucking house? Amazon will survive and prosper, as always. By the time I die we’ll all be citizens of Amazon.

Every state and city’s calling their own shots. Smooth Operator, still stuck in that Chicago hotel, says the mayor’s on the verge of imposing a stay-in-place citywide restriction. (Later: the entire state of California has now done so.)

Weird, too, that I can chat with dudes online in Australia, South Africa, Italy, and Argentina, and we all ask each other the same question: how you holding up?

How often does the whole world run and hide from the same, single enemy? And again—what the fuck will this all look like in two weeks?

A shred of light in the morning news—China, where the virus first hit, is reporting no new infections. But trusting 100% in China’s honesty is, well, a risky bet. (A smart friend reminds me its best not to trust any number out there completely. He also reminds me about basic science. As in, even that is not known about this virus. In other words, the odds are stacked against us.) The Washington Post took a pic of Trump’s State of the Nation script, where he’d crossed out “corona” and in its place scrawled “Chinese.”

Other bits of data in the swirling river: men are more likely to die than women. Young people in the states get it, too, and sometimes die. Italy’s deaths passed China’s. Canada closing its border. State Department urging no more travel abroad. Republicans—no doubt terrified at their political future—passing a trillion dollar stimulus package but I can’t help think that $1k or $2k will only last each of us so long. Bailouts for the airline industry. Trump insisting, guys, I knew this was gonna be real bad. Petulant teenagers partying on Florida beaches. The Times reporting on multiple missed warnings in the past three years at the federal level about our vulnerability to a pandemic with no cure.

Stories of celebrities getting tested more quickly and more often than us poor schmucks. The wealthy hightailing it to their second homes on Martha’s Vineyard and upstate New York and the locals there pissed as hell because, let’s face it, who’s gonna get the last respirator in the town clinic? California estimating that half its residents will get infected within 60 days.

I navigate doors without my hands and step out into the dusk. After 12 hours inside, the air feels alien. Or I feel alien. Like I’m a newborn animal on spindly legs. The parking lot is full but quiet. Another dog walker at the distant edge. Two boys throwing rocks in the creek behind the mill building. The air smells like skunk. As for which direction to go, I let the dog decide.

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