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Casualties of Covid
Author: TriSec    Date: 10/24/2020 12:20:32

Good morning. Fuck Trump, and if you support him, fuck you.


Although I am not overly prone to do so, I’m afraid I have spent the last two months navel-gazing and feeling sorry for myself. Let us return to January of this year. There was so much promise ahead in 2020. Just a month into the year, I was on the road in Florida. I tended some family business, and even had two days to solo in Disney World.

I was also getting ready for something called “Woodbadge”. The pinnacle of an adult scouting career, it’s the highest level training available for any volunteer. I completed the course myself years ago, and was pleased to be on the course staff again with one of my dearest Scouting friends.

It was the quiet season at work. While we weren’t giving many tours in February, I was working hard on a new training manual for our tour conductors, and had been noticed by both the national trainer and one of the executive Vice Presidents. There seemed to be unlimited potential, and I had literally just reached out to some company contacts in Key West to see what kind of opportunities might be available for little old me.

But there was already a dark cloud over everything. My direct manager, at the same time I was in Florida, had gone to Singapore to visit the family of his bride-to-be. At the time, there was this weird virus in China that was just starting to be a concern. We razzed them about it, but Singapore was thousands of miles away from the outbreak, and there seemed to be no real cause for alarm.

Javi was away at school, and was able to come home for a brief Spring Break. With the good fortune of timing, we were able to catch Papa Trisec onstage with the Northshore Philharmonic Orchestra on March 1, none of us suspecting that it would be the last live music any of us saw this year, and the last concert to date that my 86-year-old father has played.

It was mere weeks later that all hell broke loose. I’ve noted it before, how quaint and naive we all were to think that maybe we’d have a shutdown for two weeks and could resume normal operations in time for ‘the season’ on April 1.

To my endless regret, I missed what eventually became the ‘Big Goodbye’ for my staff. Sunday, March 15 was the last day of ‘normal’ trolley operations in Boston, and at the time my regular days off were Sunday and Monday. The team I had worked so hard to put together was put on hold for two weeks – none of us thought anything bigger than that would happen, so although it was upsetting, we didn’t see it as permanent at the time.

But soon after that, baseball was postponed. The Boston Marathon was cancelled. More city attractions closed and started extending their closures. March stretched into April, then May, and no end in sight. It was now that I began to regret missing that last day; It was my last opportunity to see many of my staff, and I suspect there are many I’ll never see or hear from again.

At the end of May, the city of Boston erupted into protests like much of the United States over the death of George Floyd. I was fortunately away at camp that evening, and missed most of the carnage, but the damage had been done. Perhaps rather foolishly, I posted some snide comments on a website about the entire affair. But since everybody was sitting at home, somebody from places unknown took umbrage and did some digging on me. I don’t hide online; at the time, all my information was out there.

So corporate headquarters in Key West got a call about me, and days later their knee-jerk reaction was to demote me from Head Conductor and force me into a full layoff. I didn’t shy away from any of this; the mantra is ‘Actions have Consequences’, so it was my bed to lie in. But my days at the trolley were numbered from that moment.

May went into June, and now Boston’s July 4 festivities were all cancelled. There was no hope for any sort of recovery. But finally, Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh moved us into “Phase 3”, and limited trolley tours started again on July 12, after four months of shutdown.

They were the saddest tours ever. For weeks, we carried less than 100 people a day. News spread that more and more conductors had given up and moved on to something else. My final straw came on August 15. I had just gotten word that one of my trusted lieutenants and lead dispatcher had resigned and wouldn’t be coming back, and on a Saturday in August, I had less than ten people on my tours all day. It was totally brutal, dispiriting, and felt like the end.

But these are the tangible things. There’s a lot of intangibles lost, too. I have seen stories recently about “Covid Fatigue”. I think it is more “Quarantine Fatigue”. When this all started – I tried to be good. I walked everywhere. Was reading a book. Studied foreign language hard (Russian). I even bought a new music instrument and tried to learn how to play it. (Dulcimer). As weeks turned into months, all those good intentions eroded.

It became easier by the day to sit in front of the computer and play games or watch mindless video on You Tube. Walking was my first casualty. Then I started spending more time sitting out back in the sun with my tablet playing games and smoking cigars. Then a three-martini-lunch became the norm. By the time I eventually got back to work in July, I was spending more hours sitting up in bed sipping whiskey and watching movies than doing anything else.

I could feel myself declining. I only smoke cigars in the summer – usually only one or two a week. I didn’t approach Twainian or Churchillian levels, but one a day suddenly became the norm. I went through literally gallons of vodka and gin. As I mused repeatedly over the summer, “I sure hope it’s as easy to STOP drinking when this is over as it was to START when it all began.” (Fortunately, I can report yes, it was easy to stop when I started working again.)

My wakeup call was a few weeks ago. I needed a medical procedure at the beginning of the year. With Covid, it was rescheduled, then cancelled outright. I tried to re-schedule twice to no avail, but finally got it done late last month. At the time, my Gastroenterologist casually commented that my blood pressure seemed a bit high, and I ought to get it checked out.

You know I drive for a living. As a part of that, I must carry a medical certificate issued by a Department of Transportation approved medical professional. (“DOT Card”). Earlier in the year, I got one for the trolley, good for two years. When I finally decided to leave the trolley, I needed a new one for the new company, and I nearly failed. My blood pressure was far over the minimums, but I managed to convince them to give me the OK because I had just received a DOT card for two years from another doctor.

I started monitoring, and was stunned by what I found. Alarmed, I checked in with my PCP and he rather bluntly confirmed that I was at higher risk today for heart attack or stroke than for my cancer returning. Steps have since been taken to get me back to where I should be – but if diet and exercise changes don’t have the desired effect in a few weeks, “we’ll treat the high blood pressure” after my next follow-up. (Re: pills.)

I’ve had many ups and downs over the course of my time here on Earth. I still maintain that 1987 was the worst year of my life. 1993, “the year everybody died” is probably a close second. Curiously, 2012 when I was diagnosed with cancer and yes, almost died myself, does not rate that high. 2020 keeps climbing the ladder. We’re heading into fall and winter, and it’s usually a time of reflection for me.

School has ‘started’ as best as it can, and fall activities are trying to progress. But the things that are always my anchor are tenuous at best in this upcoming winter of malcontent. What has happened in this country this year, and to me personally, are surely a microcosm of what is happening around the country in varying degrees. Somewhere there is somebody worse than me. Somewhere there is somebody better.

But through all of this – there is one overarching menace. Politics can do great things, and it can do terrible things through indifference. We have seen the latter. President Trump? Ignorant, Indifferent, Unfeeling, Insensitive, you name it. With literally anyone else in the Oval Office, perhaps none of this would have happened.

Trump costs us more every day. Personally? My position, then my livelihood, finally my job, and now nearly my health, all lay on the desk of the President. While it seems like such a small act, there is only one recourse to correct this. Let’s not blow it.


https://image.spreadshirtmedia.com/image-server/v1/compositions/T812A1PA3140PT17X49Y1D12495554FS5314/views/1,width=650,height=650,appearanceId=1/vote-or-die.jpg

 

1 comments (Latest Comment: 10/24/2020 20:36:05 by Will in Chicago)
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