Day 9 – Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 – Live to Blog from Our Deck

It was a Sock Offensive close call. Last night I had just gotten ready for bed and put Bert (left) and Ernie (right) on the deck where, as I explained yesterday, they hide out from Clemencia until the next morning. We were watching the early local news (10:00 PM, WBAL, Baltimore) when she exclaimed, “What’s that noise?” and, before I could stop her, she jumped up and quick stepped to the deck. (BTW, the Quick Step is a ballroom dance that she and I do but not nearly as well as you will see in this clip. Her quick step to the deck was simply a fast walk.)

“Oh, great!” I thought to myself. “Bert and Ernie were probably chatting too loudly again and now they’re going to be discovered.” I know, socks don’t usually talk. But after a full week of being worn and unwashed, even socks begin to take on some new characteristics.

Dolly’s Clueless Innocent Face

Then she called out, “Tom, come out here!” (Oh crap! I’ve been caught!) I reluctantly got up from my easy chair and shuffled tentatively onto the deck wearing the most clueless innocent face I could muster…kind of like the one Dolly gives me when she has been up to something. When I arrived at the deck, as late as I possibly could from 10 feet away, here’s how the conversation went:

  • Clemencia (inquisitively): Did you hear that?
  • Me (sweetly): Hear what, mi amor, mi corazon, mi cielo?
  • Clemencia (surprised that I would answer with so many Spanish expressions of love): What?!? That noise, that’s what.
  • Me (still sweetly but innocently clueless): What noise?
  • Clemencia (with a bit of impatience): THAT noise…from down below!

Momentarily I panicked. I thought Bert or Ernie had fallen off the deck.

  • Me (anguished): Oh, no, it can’t be!
  • Clemencia (really looking puzzled now): What?!? What can’t be? We have animals around here and they make noises. I heard something growling or barking and, just now I thought I saw two animals of some kind go under that car.

Fortunately, out of the corner of my eye, I had spotted Bert and Ernie still safe where I had put them for the night. I strategically moved to the railing of the deck to position myself so Clemencia would have to turn her back to Bert and Ernie. I looked to where she had pointed.

  • Me (with a hint of relief): Probably a coyote.
  • Clemencia (with more than a hint of disbelief): A coyote?!? We live in the middle of a highly populated suburban area. What would a coyote be doing here?
  • Me (exerting my authority on all things animals because I grew up on a farm in Iowa, even though we didn’t raise coyotes): Well, you know, coyotes are not strangers to the suburbs. Besides, I’m sure I saw a coyote one day when I was on the walking path.
  • Clemencia (increasing disbelief): You SAW a coyote? On the walking path? Really? When did this happen?
  • Me (now trying to nonchalantly win the argument with a bit of grace): You know, a couple of years ago. I told you about it but it was a really busy time for you and I bet you just forgot.
  • Clemencia (a bit more disbelief): Really? YOU saw a coyote? On the walking path? OUR neighborhood walking path?
  • Me (now feeling slightly desperate and resorting to more Spanish): Si, mi amor. And I think we should get inside in case it is a coyote.
  • Clemencia (now highly suspicious): WE are in danger of being attacked by a coyote? On our FOURTH FLOOR CONDO DECK?!?
  • Me (slowly moving her to the door while she stared – well, kind of glared – at me, which was perfect because then she didn’t see Bert and Ernie): Si, mi corazon, si. They are known to be really good climbers and sometimes they even fly.
How Coyotes Climb Fences…and Sometimes Fall Off Them

Our night was pretty quiet after that. Clemencia spent the rest of the evening at the far end of the couch doing a lot of Googling on her phone. Occasionally she looked over at me, studied me for a moment, and then emitted a long, slow, “Hmmmmm…” Researchers are curious people, eh?

Clemencia’s birthday is in two days. After last night I better make a really good gluten free brownie birthday cake. And, since we can’t go out, maybe we can watch a short feature about flying coyotes.

I’m one of the very fortunate people who can work from home and my work continues despite COVID-19. Today I was in a Zoom conference call with social service providers in New York City. Even as they try to connect their clients with resources and services under shelter-in-place orders, they are also trying to shelter-in-place themselves, and be teachers, comforters, and playmates to their own children.

The social workers are trying to find food, diapers, and the basics of life that low-income families with infants and children need to survive – not hoard. As a result, they cannot always shelter in place with their own families. They have to find ways to help their clients, even if it means going out to use public transit to get to the homes of their clients.

We have a group of heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic which we readily recognize for the risks they take in doing their service: doctors, nurses, EMTs, firefighters, police, and even pharmacists, to name a few. Let’s not forget, though, there are other heroes who are equally at risk of infection – if not more so – because they are not a priority for protective gear or testing. These are social workers, child care providers, janitors, grocery store stockers and clerks, drug store personnel, and the people who provide the core services in our communities. They often make far less money than those we already laud as heroes. However, these overlooked heroes make it possible for me, and many of you, to shelter-in-place. It bothers me that we don’t also see these folks as heroes on the front line of COVID-19. With no disrespect to the heroes we already honor, let’s also honor these, and the many other unsung heroes. They all make possible for many of us to have the privilege of sheltering-in-place.

Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and remember the overlooked and unsung heroes among us.

Tom

%d bloggers like this: