Virus: Here are some selfish bastards

There are a lot of things to hate about the freaking coronavirus — the way it is destroying the economy, taking some lives and wrecking others. The sheer randomness of it is maddening.

Looking for trouble at South Padre Island (Photo: San Antonio Express-News)

Right now I am preparing to go to Acme. I will not touch the buttons in the garage elevator, I will wear rubberized gloves when driving and latex gloves under them when pushing the cart and selecting the items. I will stand near no one, but will pass some people in the aisles within 6 feet. I bag my own groceries and slide my credit card in the reader with it being touched by no one. I will ditch the latex gloves in the parking lot. 

> It is now 2 hours later. Acme set aside 7-9 a.m. for people over 60, the people at most risk, to shop in smaller crowds. I got there at 6:55 a.m. and waited outside with 20 people, one-quarter of them were 20-40.

When the doors opened at 7, I asked the assistant manager if he noticed “all the really young-looking 60-year-olds”?

“They may have immune issues,” he said, and I gave him a really long Larry David look because we both knew he was lying. It just wasn’t worth it to enforce the rules the store itself had made.

Two of the things wrong with our society: 1) Selfish, self-centered lice who break the rules. 2) No one with the nerve to enforce them. A society that won’t enforce its own rules, its own norms, is heading to chaos — and in these times when people are arming up, chaos can be catastrophic.

At the Acme, with all the precautions I had taken, I still might catch the virus, while the jackass kids who partied in Clearwater and South Padre Island might get a pass. The athletes we are learning have it are the lucky ones — they caught it before we knew about it, and given their age, health and wealth, they can withstand it.

I wrote the other day that your best friend can be the carrier who gives it to you, and that’s true. I recommend you avoid your friends, but I am not taking my own advice. I will take precautions. 

World War III, which is what we are in, a war against the virus, will change us. We are now a nation at arm’s length.

We will come out of this a changed nation, a poorer nation. 

Will that mean the government will provide more, or less, “free stuff,” as Bernie Sanders’ critics might put it?

That is something I will handle in my next column. In this one, I want to take on cultural shifts.

The Inquirer newsroom, where I used to work, is empty. People are working from home. Half-Pint works for a financial services firm and everyone is working from home. Pretty much everyone in service sector can work remotely, and we are much more of a service economy than a manufacturing economy, sad to say.

Why sad? Because we were better off when we manufactured things other than excuses.

Maybe that’s just me.

TV network shows are being staged in remote locations with producers and staff in front of keyboards elsewhere. 

Students are having “classes” on the internet — and that could open the door to lower costs for colleges. One prof can lecture 1,000 students at a time, meaning fewer teachers will be necessary.

People are “going to the doctor” over the phone. We long ago lost doctors’ visits to homes. Maybe we now lose going to their office, except on rare occasions. 

People in the other kind of service industry, those who serve customers in stores and restaurants, most of them are laid off, and their customers are learning to order food by phone and having it brought to them.

We may decide we like that better than eating out except on special occasions. 

Amazon was way ahead of the curve and has paved a path for more and more home delivery. 

With bars and clubs closed, more people are going to the internet to find possible dates or mates.

But how do you date when under lockdown, wear a head-to-toe condom? 

Maybe the spring break crowd will let me know.

19 thoughts on “Virus: Here are some selfish bastards”

    Glad to hear that you’re surviving the war. Of course, anyone that has lung damage should not be out in public without a mask, in addition to the gloves.
    You are right, pointing out the negatives. Couldn’t you find at least one positive ? I see where the government is forced to become the “public servant” that they are supposed to be . At all levels of incompetence, there needs to be a shake-up! Accountability and Responsibility has been lacking for a long time.
    True, we will never be the same. Hopefully, we will come out a little better.

      1. I wasn’t sure if it was you are me with the lung damage. Does asbestosis count ?
        As for positives. If you consider Amazon, lectures on T.V., etc as progress, then we have to fine tune our progress.

  2. All good observations, Stu. I have no doubt that after this fiasco there will likely be some permanent changes in our daily lives, along with other things that will never change – like The Selfish Bastards.

  3. There will always be better-than-thou people infecting a society: e.g., politicians (like the four senators who apparently profited from inside info on the virus) who posit themselves as servants of the people, but who view people as THEIR servants; sports and entertainment ‘celebrities’ who ALWAY move to the head of ANY line; etc. But then I remember the American army officer in the Vietnam war who infamously said, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” It seems we are intent on destroying our nation in order to save it. Is it really necessary to close virtually ALL businesses, putting millions out of work and assuredly destroying those business that were barely holding on? Did we learn nothing from Pyrrhus?

    1. Vince,
      That’s it!! I’ve been in a brain freeze all morning since I read Stu’s latest. We are all concerned, but what about those on the front lines, the doctors and nurses and first responders. They have the same concerns, esp. themselves!
      And their families worried as hell at home. What about those with no roof over their heads? Think about them and maybe we can ease thinking about us. That’s a positive. We all live day to day in our little selfish utopias. Think about that! And most of us are old farts having lived 90 percent of our lives. I’m saying relax a little, not to be stupid. And I agree with Vince about all the closures. We have never been prepared for this so we React! Maybe over react. I took rubber gloves with me yesterday for pizza and forgot to put them on. I paid in cash! I don’t want my wife or me to catch this scourge, but damn if I’m going to let it dictate my every instinctive move.
      I could drop dead at any time from two heart conditions. When this is over, and if I’m still breathing, you can bet your ass I will stop my moaning about the little things, take deeper breaths and hold a second or two longer, smile and laugh even more than I do now.
      And one other thing. This new world will most definitely have God as my wingman. No doubt it’s going to be rough, like nothing before, at least for our generation, but we will rebuild.
      Beginning to sound like The Flag Man! But I bet he disagrees?

      1. Tom: my son is a full-time Emergency Room Physician Assistant at Chester County Hospital (and fills in when needed at Phoenixville Hospital), so I fear for him on a daily basis.

        Here is what has twisted my shorts so much about this zombie apocalypse: small businesses represents about 80% of all business done in the USA. But small businesses for the most part have been shut down: can’t sell clothes, can’t sell shoes, can’t sell electronics, can’t sell furniture, etc. UNLESS you’re Walmart and Target, who sell food and, therefore, can sell clothes, and shoes, and electronics, and furniture. So while the governments (fed, state, local) strangle the small business owner, the big-box stores are making a fortune. Ridiculous. More than ridiculous– shortsighted.

      2. Tom,
        Thank you for the many compliments.
        You, sir, are also an optimist, and because of that complicated word, you care about your fellow man. I also don’t doubt that you understand the meaning of life. How many walls came down on you ? How many times were you holding onto that hose for dear life, as your buddies dragged you out of a building ? ( Don’t want you dwelling on bad thoughts )
        True, you didn’t see this pandemic coming. Most normal people would not either. But, because of your past, you most definitely can handle the future. Unless of course, you’re going to take foolish risks. I have to tell me ( sometime often ) if not for me, then it’s for the wife and kids and granny kids……………….

    2. Vince,
      First we are brain washed, in thinking that the politician is our friend, lord and savior. Then Americans love to – wrongly – hero worship the Hollywood delete.
      Is this the signs of undeveloped brains ? I know that I grew up different than the masses, and I contribute that to my early education in a Catholic school. We worshiped God and cared for those in our lives. Don’t get me wrong. My horns were well formed back then, but I could understand the teachings. Somehow, that education wasn’t the norm in the ’50s and ’60s. Forget about it after the ’70s.
      As for the war story. I attribute that mentality to what I call, “the John Wayne Syndrome”. Think about it. Our boy wore every uniform that was ever made for our country. He joined as a man, became a super hero and like all heroes, he went out in a BANG ! Try living up to those credentials !

  4. Since you feel so strongly about “enforcing the rules”, just wondering if you took any action of your own? Did you say anything to the 20 – 40 year old shoppers? Or, would that have made you uncomfortable?
    Perhaps the low level Acme employee was afraid of appearing confrontational because his job would be at risk, or because he was being sympathetic to the fact that some of those people may really did need to be there at that time, for reasons you and I don’t know.
    Yes, there are selfish toilet paper hoarding bastards in the world. But – perhaps what would be more helpful right now – is to be less judgemental of others, and not assume the worst. We’re going to need more kindness to get through the dark days to come….

    1. Stu may not have spoken out because many, if not most of us, have become too afraid to say anything, lest someone take offense. But we CAN exercise financial might. E.g., my wife and I went to dine (before the zombie apocalypse) and the waitress (oops! waitperson…see what I mean?) came over to wait on our table. She had a face full of shrapnel piercings of all kind in her ears, nose, lips, etc. I told the manager I would like a different waitress (the hell with PC!), as the sight of our assigned waitress made our stomachs churn. The manager wrung his hands, unable to make a decision because he was TERRIFIED of his own employee’s wrath should he change her table assignment. We solved his problem by leaving the restaurant. No financial loss to us, only to him.

      1. My wife and I experienced that several years ago, but the young girl was really nice! She actually waited on us several times after that. Still I do understand, you have that choice.
        My old friend (Russ Miller R.I.P.) whose name I dropped the other day, use to blame ‘Rock ‘n Roll for everything. Of course, I disagreed. He was from the ‘Big Band’ era.
        Will it be different after the Pandemic in the ‘New World?’
        I don’t think so.

      2. Vince,
        Stu knows me fairly well. I would have, hopefully, engaged the assistant manager in conversation. For one thing, if there is signage, then it should have been clearly pointed out to the youngsters. NO signs, then there’s a little problem.
        I’m the guy, when working in Philly, would challenge people who wrongly parked in a “handicap space”. Many times I would block them in with my car. I also did this to Philadelphia’s finest as I called 911. Talk about pi**ing off the pope ! I always blocked in a armored car when they illegally parked in a Handicap space.
        As for the servers being different than me. I also try to engage them in conversation. Aside from the obvious -REBEL, They really are wayward kids most of the time. I try to point out to them, that their future will not be very profitable if they don’t get rid of the piercings and purple half shaved hair !

        1. There WERE signs on the doors, 8×11, not that big. The assistant manager could have pointed to them when he opened the door, for anyone who did not know. He just did not want to get involved.

          1. Stu,
            amusingly, me always the inquisitive inspector, called around the area to check on senior citizen hours at the grocery stores. ( we do have them way out here in the boonies)
            Wegman’s everyday 6:00 – 7:00 a.m.
            Giant Monday ( I think) 6:00 – 7:00 a.m.
            Wal-mart Tuesday 6:00 – 7:00 a.m.
            Apparently, us seniors don’t want to impose on the stores tooooooo much !
            I’m curious. I haven’t seen anyone in a bit. I would like to ask my Amish friends how they are fair’n’. They’re not as sheltered as they used to be.

    2. I did not confront them because that could have led to words and that leads to spittle flying though the air and possible loss of social distance. And assistant manager is not “low level” and you are just making excuses for bad behavior. The young ‘uns could have waited until 9 a.m. Just WHAT was their rush?

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