Summer of no fun

22May20

Now the real panic has begun.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s re-opening plan, as timid as it is, has lockdown enthusiasts grasping at straws to stem the trickle (one can hardly call it a tide) of normalcy returning to the Bay State.

Back in mid-March, it never occurred to anyone that this economic shutdown would go on for nine long weeks (and counting). Two or three weeks, maybe a month was the unspoken assumption. Some people even bought into it — mainly those who could “work from home” or were otherwise still collecting a paycheck.

But after about 30 days, the novelty began to wear off and cold, hard reality began to sink in. Fun’s fun, but national economic suicide is not a sustainable model, which is why it had never been done anywhere, for any reason, in the history of human civilization.

So, the natives started getting restless. This restlessness coincided with the warmer temperatures, longer days and general optimism that accompanies springtime. Also, as the weather warmed, infections and deaths from the respiratory virus began to decline. Who could have predicted such a thing?

There used to be a saying, “It’s a free country.” You haven’t heard that said much in the last couple of months. Millions of people haven’t been free to go to work. Millions of small businesses haven’t been free to open. Meanwhile, if you talk about that, you’re dismissed on social media as one of those “yahoos” who’s obsessed with concepts like “freedom” and “rights.”

Who put such ideas the heads of Americans?

Now the weather is getting warmer and summer will soon be here. But what does that mean? Everything has been canceled. Shows, concerts, sports. Boston canceled everything until Labor Day. So, any restaurants and bars that depend heavily on concertgoers, theatergoers and sports fans — and haven’t been killed off already — will be gone by September.

Sure, there’s talk of starting the Major League Baseball season with nobody in the stands. At least we’ll be able to watch on TV. I can’t wait to see a pitcher wind up and deliver a 90-mph fastball followed by the familiar crack of the bat as the ball sails over the fence – in dead silence.

But even that will be an improvement over our current national pastime: berating neighborhood kids for riding their bikes without a mask, or ratting out fellow citizens for deciding that walking the Lake is preferable to climbing the walls at home.

Meanwhile, you still can’t get your hair cut because the same people who lecture us that no human being is illegal are now in charge of deciding which human beings are nonessential, and that includes barbers and hairdressers.

We hear a lot these days about the “new normal.” That’s an oxymoron. Something that’s new by definition has not achieved the status of normalcy. Besides, most people preferred the old normal, which included full employment, prosperity and individual liberty. Sadly, not everyone is rooting for those things to come back.

Some day, when all this is over, the people still calling for shutdown-without-end will eventually venture downtown and wonder why half the storefronts in the Square are empty.

And I’ll be right there to remind them.

[This column originally appeared in the May 21, 2020 Wakefield Daily Item.]



5 Responses to “Summer of no fun”

  1. 1 Chuck

    Great article Mark. Keep up the great work you do. Hopefully everyone will read this and wake up

  2. 2 Marilee Cunningham

    Logically, with fewer cases in many places, people would be more willing to get back to their old normal life to some degree. Who doesn’t want to get a haircut! The issue as I see it is that there are lots of people who don’t want to take a chance on getting sick – it’s a reasonable fear – and have no confidence they won’t because the safety guidelines are obviously not being followed. I live in West Virginia, where there have been few cases but there have been some, including some neighbors. The businesses and public places that have been open up until now have done a good job with protecting customers: curbside pickup, restricting numbers of people, providing hand sanitizer, etc. All good. But yesterday, even though the National Park here was not open and the town has little to entertain anyone, the sidewalks were packed with people – no attempt at social distancing, prob only about 10% wearing masks. So, therein lies the problem. Anyone with any sense recognizes that there is a big risk there and if that is the way we reopen – with a pretty big number of people flaunting safety – the other people with reasonable caution will not join in the fever (literally) to go out and mix. Like the old saying “If wishes were horses….”, everyone would run out to get their haircuts and go to the movies. It’s not going to happen if a minority do not show they take it as seriously as the majority who care about the health of themselves and others.

    • 3 Mark Sardella

      Tell me, is this the worst disease in human history? Because we’ve never shut down an entire country, much less the world, for any other disease.

  3. 4 Julia Desrocher

    This isn’t “fun” nor enjoyable for anyone. I am a college student who has had part of their education taken from them as well as my own job. But I understand the importance of this situation. I got a temp job at a rehab hospital where they have COVID positive patients. As much as I want to actually celebrate the 21st birthday I missed, more than 100,000 PEOPLE HAVE DIED. As a health care provider, I understand that there are so many people that are at such a higher risk than others. If every thing were to open up, we run the risk of a second surge that will continue the quarantine well past the summer. I understand the economic problems with a shut down, I didnt have a job for two months. But if we open up too early and people who are unable to fight off coronavirus as well as others get sick, we are putting not only the lives of others but also forcing hospitals to overfill and causing the people on the front lines to be overworked and underpaid. I understand the frustration, anger, and upset that this global crisis has caused. Emotions are high and anxieties are even higher, but maybe think about the lives lost and consider if its worth getting a hair cut if a couple people die.

    • 5 Mark Sardella

      Tell me, is this the worst disease in human history? Because we’ve never shut down an entire country for any other disease.


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