We were sitting on a bench by the sea shore, six feet apart, enjoying the warm spring weather, breaking another silly law: drinking in public. That’s because one of Muriel’s and Camp’s neighbours complained to the town council about us sitting on Camp’s front porch, disrespecting distancing guidelines. I never thought I’d see neighbours denouncing neighbours, not for hiding illegal aliens, but for acting normal. Clare put it bluntly: ‘This virus outbreak will bring out the worst in people and the best. People will rally to help and support each other or rat each other out.’
‘Clare is right as usual,’ Camp said. On the one hand we have many people shopping, cooking and helping others that cannot manage but on the other hand there are always those who are righteous and take the moral high ground.’
‘Like our NDP mla after the Easter weekend, saying that the ferry was full of people who ‘deserve to live in a dictatorship’. He just lost my vote. ‘And I had a guy yelling at me, practically spitting at me, at the grocery store, that I was not six feet away. ‘
‘Was he wearing a mask?’ Camp asked.
` ‘How did you know?’
‘We’re mixing up physical distancing with social isolation,’ Camp said. ‘When they recommend to stay home, they didn’t mean to stay in your room or house. That’s isolation. The term social distancing is misleading. Nobody said you can’t talk to your neighbor or sit down across from your friend and have a chat. Cheers.’
‘While the US is now the worst afflicted and least prepared western country and its narcissistic president is stirring up his followers to disregard medical and scientific advice, and then blames the WHO and cuts their funding, but still enjoys high approval ratings. How is that even possible?’ I said.
‘Simple,’ Camp shrugged, ‘he’s a cult leader and his followers will drink the cool aid if he tells them to. He also just changes the narrative and revises recent history and does what he does best: Lie, deflect, blame, tweet and deny. Let me read you a recent quote by Fintan O’Toole: ‘As the cost of his terrible failures of public duty and common decency become ever more starkly evident, he (Trump) will revert in his re-election campaign to an explanation of the disaster, not as a consequence of his own incompetence and contempt but as a punishment inflicted on the United States for its failure to build his wall, keep out foreigners, and crush the enemy within. Like a medieval quack making a profit in times of plague, he will offer a stricken people an ever-higher dose of a toxic cure.’
We both watched a flock of Merganser ducks floating and squawking fifty feet away.
‘Some even call the covid-19 an old people’s flue, citing stats that show the median age of deaths to be above 80, all with underlying health issues,’ I said.
‘Who doesn’t have underlying health issues at 80?’ Camp said, ‘but does this warrant a broad strategy of shutting down society and devastating our economies?’
‘It’s a default strategy because none of our western governments had a plan, a strategy or were prepared, despite numerous scientific studies warning them.’
‘And how are the Swedes doing?’ I had to ask. ‘Still no lockdown there. Are they just ignorant, uneducated and blind or do they have something the rest of us are missing, like common sense and a sense of proportion and magnitude?’
‘Stop it,’ Camp said. ‘They’re doing better than expected. And the Swedes still trust their governments and health authorities, unlike the Italians or the Spanish or the French. It’s almost as if the rest of the world wants them to fail so they can point the finger and say: We told you so. I say it again, time will tell, and after we tally the corona accounts, maybe a year from now, we will see who managed the best.’
‘We trust our governments and health authorities,’ I said.
‘Yes, but do they trust us, that is the big question.’
‘How do you think this will affect future travel?’ I asked.
‘Nobody is planning to go anywhere right now but airlines will fly eventually, the ones that survive and have been bailed out by their respective governments. You’ll probably have more leg room. Prices will go up even though fuel prices have never been this low and there will be restricted destinations. It will not be the same world.’
‘And when eventually a vaccine is available you will have to show a certificate like in the seventies for yellow fewer and malaria. For now, best to plan to stay at home.’
‘On a positive note: I heard from Vicky who now works for one of the restaurants which is open for deliveries and pickups. We’ll order out tonight, just to support them.’
‘I’ll drink to that.’