Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Today marks the one year anniversary of the last normal day before the pandemic shutdown.  It was Tuesday, my regular bar trivia night.  Of course, the looming pandemic was a major topic of conversation, much of it speculation about upcoming cancellations.  The trivia night MC, the father of a newborn girl, knew that he'd have to curtail his entertainment company's business, having a little one in the house.

This was when the fate of the 2020 St Patrick's Day parade (eventually cancelled) was uncertain.  Soon after, the March 24 New York Judo Open, a big social event for US judoka, was cancelled.  As the month progressed, the restrictions became more stringent, the event cancellations stacked up.

Abruptly, my social life ground to a halt.  The days started dragging, each one blending into the next.  Luckily, my work was in no way curtailed, so at least I had to leave the house five days a week.  The basic routine at work remained unchanged, the only addition to the daily tasks was wiping down the phone with a disinfectant swap at the end of every shift.  Still, with a skeleton crew in place, I only saw the same two coworkers during the course of a week.

The supermarkets were a wasteland of empty shelves, with uncertainty about supply lines for the foreseeable future.  Luckily, I had purchased a large package of toilet paper in February, when it wasn't scarce.  On one visit to the supermarket, the only items available in the frozen foods aisle were bags of okra, so I pretty much ate gumbo for a week.  I made sure to gradually stock up on non-perishables every week, buying a bag of dried legumes and a bag of dried grains (rice, barley, hominy, the like) every time I shopped.  Luckily, this was before I stopped buying Goya products... even just last week, I took a long, hard look at a bag of peeled fava beans (this time of year, I typically make a big batch of falafel, using a 50/50 chickpea/fava blend) and then went searching for another brand.  Even more fortuitously, Spring is nettle season, so I knew I'd be okay as long as I could stock up on carbs.

It was a surreal period of time, when days seemed to drag on interminably.  It really felt as if the Earth stood still, and nobody had the power to just say "COVID Barada Nikto" and put an end to the peril.

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