Stupid Smart


            I was up at 5AM watching the Canadian women’s soccer team win the gold in Tokyo. If anybody deserved to win, they did. Just for those two hours of drama and football, I almost forgot to post my weekly update. Not that there is anything new in it. Just the same old gripes and laments. Sometimes I think Camp and I are like Statler and Waldorf, the two old, cantankerous Muppets in the balcony.

            ‘I think I figured it out,’ I said to Camp. ‘Stupid people will make smart people do stupid things to make them look smart.

            ‘You got me there,’ Camp said. ‘I guess stupid people would be conspiracy believers or the ‘basket of deplorables’ while smart people could be politicians and TV personalities?’

            ‘Yes, and it puzzles me that so many young people refuse the vaccine on self-serving grounds without a thought to their community or the greater good. I guess altruism is an acquired trait, sort of like sharing and compassion.’

            ‘The young are the most interconnected with social media and therefore inundated with fake and self-serving posts while the older generation reads The Guardian and the New York Times where facts and research still underpin good reporting.’

            ‘But how can so many be so wrong for so long? Over 6 million eligible Canadians are not vaccinated? That’s 20%. Meanwhile it’s becoming obvious that the unvaccinated are still spreading the virus and are probably breeding new mutations.’

            ‘There are only two ways to solve this impasse. Mandatory immunizations as in France, Italy and New York in order to get into restaurants, events or gyms and make them pay when they need to be hospitalized for the virus. The vaccine is free, the illness is not.’

            ‘What about travel?’ Camp asked me, ‘are you going to make it to England this year?’

            ‘Right now, Canadians are on the Amber List, meaning they still have to quarantine for 10 days in the UK. Unlike the travellers from the US and most European countries, even though Canada has better numbers than all of them. Kind of pisses me off?’

            ‘Why is that? An oversight?’

            ‘I think it’s a political decision, probably about dollars and cents. Canadians don’t make a big difference to the British tourist trade. Also, Brits are not allowed to come to Canada until 7th Sept. and then only if fully vaccinated.’

            ‘So, another staycation for you?’ 

            ‘We’ll wait and see. These rules change like the weather,’ I said.

            ‘Except the weather hasn’t been changing. Over 50 days with no rain and scorching temperatures and wild fires throughout Western Canada. A third of the crops withered and ruined across the prairies and we’re still waiting for rain.’

            ‘Meanwhile the ocean has never been this warm and I love my daily swims. I try and enjoy the small pleasures like a swim or a beer since the big pleasures like a trip to London or Mexico seem dicey at best.’

            ‘Rich man’s problems, as Sophie would say,’ Camp said, finishing his pint. ‘We’re sitting on the sidelines, watching wars, draughts, fires, pandemics and the Olympics from our comfy armchairs. Can we do anything to improve outcomes? Should we feel guilty for not doing much at all? Or should we just not watch the news anymore. Sort of like covering the alarm light on the dashboard with a piece of tape.’

            ‘You two ready for another round,’ Vicky said cheerfully while delivering refills. ‘This is last call. We’re closing up early.’

            ‘Oh really, it’s only 6PM.’

            ‘No staff. We can’t find anybody to work either in the kitchen or on the floor,’ Vicky said. ‘We’ve been advertising for weeks, offering good pay and benefits but no resumes. Nobody wants to work.’

            ‘Why is that I wonder,’ I said.

            Camp had the answer of course. ‘Many have moved during the pandemic and others have discovered the benefits from working and studying remote, meaning from home. Also, it’s a combination of long hours, lousy shifts, low wages, reliance on tips and miserable covid-protocols like wearing masks and distancing, sort of anathema to restaurant or bar philosophy.’

            ‘What about the government subsidies like CERB and EI?’

            ‘I don’t think these programs ever stop people from working or looking for work. That’s an urban myth. $ 300 a week is not a career choice, just a bridge.’

            ‘This is the best summer ever,’ she said, obviously happy to go home early.

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