• Last modified 640 days ago (April 23, 2020)


Don't get infected by pessimism

To date, Marion County has seen a bigger epidemic of roofing contractors than it has COVID-19 cases. Perhaps that’s where the lyric comes from: “Hail, hail, the gang’s all here.”

We hope and assume that most of the companies descending like water-tower vultures on sheltered-in-place county residences are in reality good public servants — on the up and up, as it were, with “up” being an especially relevant word for roofers.

So many have appeared, however, that we have to think the next epidemic we encounter might well be of small-claims lawsuits filed against companies with names like Shingle By Night Roofing LLC.

There’s absolutely no truth to the rumor, by the way, that LLC stands for Lustily Looting Checkbooks — though there does seem to be an overabundance of shady dealings related to the various gifts and plagues Mother Nature has visited upon us recently. At least roofers by their nature have to practice social distancing.

Our recent hailstorm actually may have been a needed gift for many financially challenged homeowners. We can always use a good hailstorm every 20 years or so to make sure insurance companies pay for roofs that probably needed replacing anyway.

What we don’t need are people like the charlatans who may have bilked Herington Hospital into buying COVID-19 test kits so flawed, according to some, that they affirm coronavirus infections among people who have only a common cold. We hope whoever is responsible, if these tests really are a problem, is brought to justice and sentenced to be coughed on by the entire passenger manifest of a New York City subway train.

Other things we don’t need more of are the emails we keep getting offering us “once used” surgical masks that apparently will keep us safe from everything but whatever diseases the previous users might have had or contracted. Recycling might be a great idea for some things, but surgical masks probably aren’t among them.

Then again, where there’s a buck to be made, there’s always somebody bucking the system — and commonsense — to make it.

If you spend any time watching TV these days you have to think the only things happening in America are lawsuits in need of hotshot lawyers riding on bulls (presumably so they can gore their clients out of giving them most of the money they win for them) and rare medical conditions in need of nattily named drugs with more side-effects than the number of rolls of toilet paper currently being hoarded worldwide.

Time was, government used to protect us from things like this. Nowadays most people seem to spend most of their time protecting themselves from government.

Regular reader William Payer (his friends call him Bill) remains more than a bit concerned about whether government has enough presses and ink to create all the money it is throwing around to provide economic relief. But he counts his blessings — in addition to the dollars from his various handouts — that COVID-19 had the impeccable timing to strike in an election year.

Bill wonders why all his friends working for private companies have been laid off but no government workers have, even if nearly nothing in their job descriptions can be done because of shelter-in-place orders.

One of the ironies of the current pandemic is that infection rates in most states massively increased after — not before — stay-at-home orders were issued. Maybe things would have been worse without the orders, but at some point we have to stop thinking about maybes and start thinking about getting back to normal.

If you think COVID-19 has disrupted the workplace, it’s done just as much — perhaps more — to the ivory towers of education.

Whenever classes resume, will students in remotely taught (and we use that term loosely) classes this spring have learned what they need to learn to safely advance to subsequent classes when normalcy returns? Will they have had a chance to take standardized tests or even get regular grade-point averages that will help them pick the right colleges?

We seem to be awfully worried about how baseball, football, and basketball teams will cope, but what about how education itself will cope? Win-loss records next season aren’t nearly as important as whether the next generation in society knows how to do more than just toss a ball around. And while we all lament the canceled prom, a fair number of us look back on our own proms a lot less fondly than current students might expect.

Meanwhile, if you’re ever feeling really sad and bored, we have a bit of a cure for you. Tune in one of the thousands of sports talk shows on radio and spend a few minutes listening to what they’re trying to talk about. Or watch any of the late-night or daytime talk shows that weren’t pre-recorded long ago. A blacked-out screen and dead air from radio speakers might be more entertaining, but at least it lets you see someone who’s even more bored and listless than you are.

Count your blessings if you’re among the many forced to endure endless hours of lessons, meetings or other gatherings via teleconferencing. The wonderful thing about Zoom is you turn off your camera and zoom out of your seat, appearing to dutifully listen while doing anything but. GoToMeeting lets you avoid the very nature of its name. Skype lets you stare at the sky without anyone knowing. Block your face and FaceTime becomes just time — time for reading this column, petting your cat, picking your nose, grabbing a bite, or taking a quick snooze.

We all need to count our blessings. COVID-19 may be draining our wallets, but it’s giving us a great vacation and a wonderful opportunity to spend time with our families absent the pressure of providing taxi service to every play date and activity that used to make us think we were spending quality time but in fact weren’t.

Just don’t let sheer boredom lead you to buying used masks, hiring bull-riders for lawsuits, curing one disease while creating dozens of others, or trying to cheat your neighbors. And shed a tear once in a while for all those folks who used to spend their days wandering from coffee klatch to coffee klatch, aimlessly dropping into every office in between.

For them, COVID-19 isn’t the living hell. Not having anyone to listen to their stories is. It seems social distancing might not be such a bad thing after all.


Last modified April 23, 2020