Virus makes for Unhappy Hour at bar

I meet my friend Chris at the bar of a Center City restaurant and I sit down with one barstool between us.

“What are you doing?,” he asks.

“Social distance,” I say.

Would YOU go to an Open House?

He starts to sit down on the safety bar stool.

“No,” I say, “keep the distance. You are coughing.”

“I’ve been coughing all week,” he says.

That does not comfort me.

“I went to the V.A. this morning and they said I don’t have a fever and my breathing is fine,” he says. As a veteran, he deserves respect, but I maintain social distance.

Traffic on Broad Street is not as heavy as it should be. I know Center City business is down, but customers are drifting into the restaurant we are in, which is in the theater district, which has shut down. (The Philadelphia Orchestra played in an empty Kimmel Center the night before.)

We talk about President Trump’s just-announced National Emergency, as I run my hand across the cool marble of the bartop, wondering when it was last wiped down. I also wonder if the $50 billion the feds will release will be enough.

Chris is furious about Trump’s self-praise and heavy-handed asides. I ignore Trump’s usual antics and denial of responsibility, but have confidence in the parade of CEOs who have pledged to work together to battle the coronavirus, although I don’t know precisely what they are promising to do. While I personally am not a fan of WalMart, I know it to be brutally efficient and its promised parking lot space for mobile testing units is important. WalMart is everywhere — from the biggest cities to the smallest crossroads. It has almost 5,000 outlets. It’s a nice gesture, but can’t WalMart do more? 

CVS is involved, too, and I’m in there so often they could charge me rent. I want specifics about what the giant will do. 

As the news conference unspooled, the stock market rebounded strongly, rising almost 2,000 points, unlike the stock sag that followed Trump’s failed Wednesday news conference.

During the day, House Leader Nancy Pelosi cut a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin on a multi-billion aid package. Just guessing, but that would not have happened if it were Trump “arting the deal” with Pelosi.

If it is true that 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and have no savings, if the disease takes a month to peak, we are looking at a financial catastrophe. If these Americans lose their jobs or are laid off and get no pay for weeks, they will not be able to buy groceries, pay their mortgage or rent, the electric and cable bill, plus tuition and gas for the car.

As I said previously this is war and the government will need more money to keep millions of Americans afloat. National Emergency, right? 

Back at the bar, a friend of Chris’ arrives and joins us, seated to Chris’ left, while I maintain my “social distance” on the right.

The friend — no name, he’s in real estate — is complaining that the industry has dropped dead, but the reasons are interesting.

“No one will come to an open house” because of the coronavirus threat.

“Well, the sellers still get leads and they can have people make appointments and come in to see the place,” I say.

The real estate guy tells me the sellers don’t want strangers in their home.

Well, that will slow down sales, for sure. The real estate guy shrugs, sips his drink, and says he will have to wait it out.

You know what they say about silver linings? There is one here.

The other side of his business is property management, he tells me. 

His phone has been exploding. Why?

Landlords don’t want to visit their properties to inspect repairs or collect rents. They are afraid, so they hire him.

Who would have seen that coming? 

A minor point of light in a dark night. 

11 thoughts on “Virus makes for Unhappy Hour at bar”

  1. Good morning Stu,

    Are you hung over? Dry whine and dry humor can do that.
    Thought I was reading Will Bunch, except for the humor.

    I’ve taken my cane out for a walk three times this week. Social distancing is important. But Thursday come hell or high water (except quarantine) I’ll be kibitzing at breakfast with my mates!!

  2. HAPPY SUNDAY !!!
    “you know who your friends are, if they willingly leave an empty bar stool between the two of you”.
    Some one, I think it was Rush Limbaugh, said that this is what socialism looks like ! Take away capitalism and the desire to make money, you get empty shelves. Food for thought.
    Then there was President Trump saying that we need to bring the manufacturers back to our country. This taste of emptiness could prove that Point. While many of the big companies have their headquarters here in the USA, the actual work is done overseas. I doubt that you will have empty shelves for long. Everybody in business has rolling stock. Question is, how much? The only real shortage would be some dairy products. There are only so many cows and chickens.
    Then my pallie, AKA Stu, AKA nervous nancy, took a shot at our President the other day. Again. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnunchin brokered a deal with Pelosi. It was one of those deals that Mr Trump would have screwed up, says Stu. That’s amusing. On one hand, President Trump doesn’t listen to his cabinet members. On the other hand, President Trump, brought in corporate and business people, who he most definitely seeks there advice. Hmmmmmmmm. slight of hand ?!?
    There will always be winners and losers. One of the best take-a-ways will be that everyone(?) is practicing good hygiene. The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) would be so proud of their students.
    Tony

    1. I totally agree. Trump could find a cure for CV all by himself, and the knee jerk Dems would still find fault. All the President does in plodding on despite the unprecedented hate directed at him, is make me love him more. An amazing feat on his part, since I was a Never Trumper until 3 months ago!

      1. S.D.,
        I’m glad for you (& us) that you crossed over from the dark side. Make no mistake, I believe in Donald J Trump. No, he doesn’t walk on water yet. Maybe during his 3rd or 4th term as the Almighty Impenetrable, and all of that nonsense.
        The sad part of all of this is the fact that all of these here middle aged(?) men have been screwed their whole life. “thank you serve, may I have another “, or “Bend Over. Here It Comes Again”( from the morning drive guy on NJ 101.5 years ago.)
        We used to have “statesmen”. They were the “elected” officials that swore to defend and uphold the constitution of the United States of America. Since the ’60s, if not before, Those elected became those “anointed”. They went from taking care of us to taking care of the chosen few.
        I’ll stop here before this turns into “chapter two” for Tom.
        I could go on till November !
        Tony

        1. It is Chapter Two. I’m way ahead of you Tony. Or actually late. I just read Chapter Three on your previous blog comment to Randy and added another. Good night
          You are good!
          Tom

  3. I’d give anything to hear Leroy Helm’s opinions on today’s events. Leroy, the former sagacious bartender at the Pen & Pencil Club, had a unique talent. He was able to impart wit and wisdom while adroitly pouring drinks for petulant, inebriated journalists.

  4. Here is a recipe to help with the coronavirus problem: “Take the juice of one quart of scotch…”

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