I compiled the books and such that I had spread out into three boxes into one stuffed box and went around town, which was still permitted as long as we remain physically distant, to see what’s changed since our state’s government shut down all non-essential travel – minus exercise, groceries, and maybe more. I brought that box with me to see if any donation stations were open and it turns out, thrifting business has been booming.
It’s not surprising but surprising nonetheless.
I dropped off the box then asked the handler how it’s been while the music changed from The Offspring to maybe REM. He, without wearing gloves, face mask, and without any sanitary supplies handy, told me that he was getting by well enough and that he was surprised how many people were dropping things off. Enough to justify opening up a new store nearby soon, he told me, and before I continued my journalistic efforts I realized that just getting that information was sufficient.
We said goodbyes and parted ways.
I was looking over other businesses that were open and took notes. Drive-through coffee shops were open, because of course they were open in the Seattle area. A local computer store was open, which I suppose could fall under essential business. A home improvement store was open with its flower selection carted out – I’m not really sure that was a good thing, but the product has to sell. it just seemed like everything was so lively still.
We are early into the COVID-19 pandemic.
By this essay’s publication, this information will be a month old, so it’s possible that things will change. Still, I am invested in documenting my surroundings, if only because it’s my way of interpreting reality. I’m not going to do so at the expense of others, because I don’t know if I have a mild enough case to spread to others; I don’t think I do. That’s the kind of attitude, though, that can spread a viral infection to vulnerable and even non-vulnerable individuals.
The gas station was lighter than normal.
There were no sanitary products anywhere around and the pumps looked as they did the last time I went there, with the only primary difference being there were no lines! This gas station was always busy. Will that change going forward? My work-from-home environment is mostly comfortable now. I can only stand at the moment because I don’t own any ergonomically comfortable chairs. I have an area where I can work without disrupting others. I can use this space on my days off, if I wanted to, for watching movies while standing up.
This was a goal of mine this year, so it’s good to see that crossed-off.
I drove to the mall to see how it looked. This mall has an attached grocery store, which was still open, and at 11am or so in the morning was about as busy as it had always been. I didn’t stop in. A disheveled, possibly homeless, individual walked on the street I was driving along, so we still have people that are obviously not going out for essential business wandering around. It’s fine. I had wished the guy hadn’t been walking on the road for as long as he did, but where else was he to go? Walk on the sidewalk?
The backside of the mall was empty.
There would always be at least a quarter-lot full of cars parked there, so at least despite the worst intentions of some businesses to claim they are essential and reopen, at least there at that moment most people were at home. Now, I’ve overall been staying home myself, but I can claim to drive around to make sure my car was properly maintained [a stipulation used for the use of classic cars, of which mine is not], along with if pulled over I could say I was headed to the grocery store.
I didn’t have my self-made PRESS badge with me.
At this point, not enough people have offended local police to necessitate martial law, so we are still free to go around as we please as long as we’re not suspicious. A local thrift store’s parking lot was coned off, but another strip mall nearby with a bookstore and Gamestop, controversial for being the most stubborn against closing their doors and being responsible with their employees, so I drove over there before heading back home to see how they were holding up in late March.
This was a welcome surprise. The most recent time I walked in there [and will it be the last?], from the attached big-box bookstore, it was mostly-deserted, other than videogames lining the walls, and trinkets attempting to fill the space that had – ten or twenty years prior – been filled with aisle after aisle of physical media. I was told that videogame-themed shirts were buy-one-get-one-free. There was nothing there I had wanted, so I left, and that was in early March, before the seriousness of current events impacted our part of the world.
The bookstore, however, offered a sort of drive-through bookfair.
While I typically support the willingness for others to come up with creative ideas to workaround their problems, above that is my central tenet of “do whatever you want, as long as it doesn’t harm other people,” and remaining open to keep business afloat can infect employees or patrons with something that currently has a four-percent kill rate and that’s based on positively-confirmed cases, rather than incidentally related cases. It’s not a good look for that bookstore, and if they do reopen… whenever businesses can safely reopen, I will still go, but with less casualness toward buying and more toward observing. I cannot predict what my future or your present looks like, so I don’t know if businesses will return to pre-COVID-19 normal. If they don’t, then we should adapt in ways that don’t hurt other people.
I worry for that donation handler, but he seemed healthy enough.
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: This is probably what my Downsizing Zeal essays will start looking like, because as I clear out space and fill boxes with things that aren’t worth selling, I’ll want to drive around until I find somewhere where I can safely drop off that donation box. By this essay’s publication, I will have probably figured out a good balance for reporting on the news and donating stuff.|
|Related: Other Downsizing Zeal essays.|
|Picture: Nothing particularly journalistic to photograph.|
|Written On: 2020 April 03 [12:06am to 12:39am]|
|Last Edited: 2020 April 04 [Adapted from Gdoc, so, second draft; final draft for the Internet.]|