1929 – White mobs threaten black residents of North Platte, Nebraska, causing 200 people to flee their homes after a black man is accused of killing a white police officer.July 11th
No articles today. Just a personal story about this moment in time. It’s late (0153,) so I’m going to keep this brief and avoid making this into a rant.
I’m a teacher and I have a Saturday job working at a local winery. In the summer, I also work whenever I can for a temp agency which specializes in providing servers to caterers, private parties, events and similar.
Friday evening I worked with this temp agency for the first time since the Pandemic began. Three colleagues with the agency and I worked a wedding at a farm in a semi-rural area north of where I live in Ohio.
I was told ahead of time that the reception would be outside as a couple of food trucks were contacted to “cater” the party. I imagined a big tent on the lawn with tables and chairs plus fans to keep things cool. A big gathering like this one (about 150 people) is risky for COVID infection, but being outside, with good ventilation would lower the risk significantly.
When I arrived, this sign was subtly placed on the gift table:
This is all good – if people follow these “suggestions.”
The problem was that they didn’t. The wedding service was held in an open air space with people sitting a normal distance from each other. Following this, the “cocktail hour” was outside.
But then people came inside to a medium-sized “hall” for the entire rest of the evening. There was A/C going, but no fans and all of the doors were closed.
I saw only two masks worn the entire evening – one of them was ineffectively on the guy’s chin.
What troubled and angered me was that also the three other servers and I were wearing masks – recall that these are to protect others and not really to protect ourselves. As the guests at this party didn’t seem that interested in protecting anyone else, we were exposed and at risk while we worked at what is a potential “super-spreader event”
I’m not going to get into how I (as the captain of the servers) dealt with the wedding planner (unmasked and wanting to talk to me much closer than six feet) running the event in order to gain a higher level of protection for ourselves.
What I stunned me was that this wedding reception looked exactly like a typical one looked before COVID-19. In other words, there was no meaningful attempt by the group gathered to act differently and thus carefully in this time when COVID is raging – even in the state and county where I live.
One thing I noticed about this group gathering to celebrate like the Pandemic didn’t exist was that they were all white people and that they were rather wealthy. I wonder how much these two qualities factored into their “devil-may-care” attitude about behaving in ways to lower the risk of spread?
Data was reported very recently as to how black and brown people are at so much greater risk of getting COVID than white people.
Scientists don’t think there’s anything “genetic” about this difference. Rather it is socioeconomic as the “front line” workers in service jobs are disproportionately black or brown. And it is also because of less and poorer health care for these groups which leads to greater numbers of other health problems which can make COVID worse.
So, it is likely that these well-to-do white people gathered at the wedding reception tonight do not know any one who has died of COVID. It’s even likely that many of them do not have a friend or family member who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. This lack of personal connection is surely one factor in the disregard shown for acting in a way consistent with the “new normal” of this period.
It was a frustrating experience tonight and I hope that I don’t pay for wanting to work by getting COVID and, even worse infecting someone else with it.
More so, I hope large segments of our nation can stop acting recklessly like this wedding party did and cease pretending (wishing) it was July 2019 (or even January 2020) and realize that July 2020 is different than any other time. And we must act accordingly.