smuckers 0520
Remember, with a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.

Yesterday was jam-packed for me: two Zoom meetings, a chiropractic appointment, blood donation, a tiny bit of work — and money arrived from the feds, riding in on horseback to save Pat’s Screen Printing.

The chiropractic appointment, delayed from last Thursday thanks to Oz’s propensity to seek out and explore strange new creatures like skunks, resulted in a mid-back crack and a series of smaller noises that filled the entire room, the release of a major pile of stress gathered into one knot.

The blood donation was the first in many, many months, since my doctor had decided last summer that I was lacking in iron. Not a problem yesterday: if I were a bicycle racer I would have been banned from the race for a suspiciously high hematocrit. That’s why I started donating in the first place, not out of some notion of helping others, but because a different doctor told me my blood was “too thick” living here at altitude, and the best way to rid myself of these excess red blood cells was to give them to people who could use them more than me.

Lynn tried to donate yesterday, too. None of her medications or maladies keeps her from donating, it turns out, but her iron — despite taking a daily pill — was too low. Bring on the red meat and spinach! Tia was going to go, but the blood drive was poorly timed (budget season for the school district in the Time of Corona, when income is in doubt and how school will look this fall is a complete unknown), so Fortino went in her place. His reason was better than mine: his mother once needed a transfusion, so this is a way to pay that forward.

You would think two Zoom meetings, one a.m., one p.m., might mean a day spent in hell, and given many of the meetings where an hour has not Zoomed past, that possibility was always there, but in fact both of them went quite well.

The second one, for the retail and service businesses of the county, had perhaps nine participants, and we decided, going forward, to fold that meeting into the one I’d attended in the morning, for restaurant owners. Two meetings turned into one — that has to be success right there.

The main topic of discussion at the second meeting was masks. People, especially visitors (who I don’t think technically are allowed to be anywhere in the state right now, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping large numbers of them), are not doing a good job of covering their faces in public.

At Pat’s we had our first visitor encounter yesterday, in complete violation of everything: a family of seven invaded the space that’s supposed to be limited to two. They touched everything they could, Gilly reported, but at least they spent money.

Two of the merchants in the Zoom said they are not requiring masks of their customers. One encourages it more than the other, who said he gets “one to two calls every day” from people assuring him they won’t shop in his store if a mask is required. What is the saying? Pride goeth before the fall. I’m sure it’s meaningless.

The other merchant, who lives in Gunnison but businesses in Crested Butte, said the difference in mask use between the two communities astonishes him. I gathered locals up there all wear masks, but roving bands of tourists pass by his store, all of them maskless. And second homeowners appear to have made a point of coming in to his store to tell him they will “never spend another dime” in this county due to their ill treatment when they weren’t allowed to come to the houses they own during lockdown.

That seems a hollow threat, doesn’t it? Coming all this way from wherever the first house is just to go around letting people who had no part in the public health decisions know they won’t be receiving money? And how do you suppose you don’t spend any money at your second home? Did you pack in all your gasoline and groceries, your utilities?

The merchant, who’s been around for a long time, recognized this for the bluster it is, but he was in agreement on the mask issue: no one has an appetite for policing people’s lack of virus etiquette.

The county commissioner in attendance didn’t either, but he was wondering if people had any ideas on how to encourage masks. I’m not sure where people are getting their numbers, but he said the transmission rate of the virus when two people are wearing masks drops to 5 percent.

I suggested we make an appeal using Gunnison’s ranching heritage. Despite a lifelong rancher’s assurance in a recent letter to the editor that this virus is no big deal and none of us need to be wearing masks, face covering has been part of the cowboy’s “uniform” since cattle drives began. “Cowboy cool,” as I like to think of it.

The morning Zoom rates a post all its own (that’s more a statement of content than a promise) about how the lockdown — and the awareness that this is at least an 18-month reality — has caused a number of local merchants to contemplate streamlining. It was very thought-provoking, and quite possibly the most productive meeting I’ve ever been to.

Which finally brings us to the biggest news (what the cool kids at the Washington Post call “burying the lede” [for five decades I have spelled that “lead”]), which I have put down here because on some level it feels like failure: yesterday we received notice that Paycheck Protection Program funds were being deposited into our account.

If you’re thinking to yourself, “I thought you opted not to apply for the PPP,” well, you were right. Until. I have a consultation this morning with an accountant not my own, offered free of charge through the Small Business Development Center.

To help her prepare, I e-mailed her my many questions about the Employee Retention Credit that I had opted for over the PPP. One of my questions, which I knew she couldn’t answer, was, “When will the funds I applied for over a month ago arrive?” She e-mailed back that she didn’t want to wait until our meeting — I should apply as soon as possible for the PPP.

I still think — now on a theoretical level — that the ERC could have provided more funding, but since it so far hasn’t offered much funding at all, getting one lump sum up front is seeming the smarter way to go. But on some level its disheartening to have put so much effort into research and decision-making and have it all collapse around me.

But payroll is taken care of for the next eight weeks, and two months of rent, which I can pay at the full rate to my very kind landlord. All the accountant has to do now is help me extricate from the ERC, since I can’t be in both programs. I figure, the way things go, a check will arrive, probably today, and attempting to give it back will be an onerous process that takes years and leads to accusations of me attempting to defraud the American people.

Other than that imagined threat of incarceration, the day went well, jam-packed not only with activity, but production as well. These days, that’s easy to count as a victory all the way around.


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