Boiling Point


I vacillate these days between abject despair and anger. As I wrote in the blog post you haven’t read because I’ve been working on it for two days and am getting nowhere, it feels like the End Times are upon us.

Which has been a place humankind has been many, many times before, maybe once even for real, if you care to believe the geneticists who tell us that once in pre-history we dwindled to a few thousand. But it still feels like we’re perched on a precipice these days.

I can’t go beyond the headlines regarding climate change, which has been so insistent this year that it’s starting — finally — to make believers out of the science deniers. Columnist George Will quoted some climate official from the Obama presidency in an effort to assure me we are only talking a few trillion in lost global production, and some other columnist tried to cheer me by providing reasons not to despair, but then there’s that headline about the collapse of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, which sounds like techno-babble from Star Trek (probably Next Gen) but is what keeps North America and Europe functioning in ways we are familiar with.

And there are fires, fire everywhere. One faulty catalytic converter on an interstate set some large chunk of Utah ablaze, since the West Coast has made it look like so much fun. Greece’s second-largest island is fully engulfed. Without better backstops than volunteers have been getting in Siberia, Moscow, several hundred miles to the west, could find itself in flames. Spain may have to alter a stage of its big bicycle race due to a fire.

Where there aren’t fires there are floods, and don’t forget the Haitian earthquake, which is what I’ve been trying to blog about for two days without success, followed immediately by torrential rains and high wind.

Down in Arizona they are helicoptering water into the desert in an effort to save wildlife from crushing drought now in its third decade, while the report from the embattled reservoirs of the once-mighty Colorado River is that while most Arizonans won’t notice any hardship next year, the Central Arizona farmers are shit out of luck. No word on the end-users of those crops, which apparently includes most of the nation’s cottonseed. And if you don’t think you use cottonseed, you haven’t been reading the ingredient labels for your food.

I feel like everyone along the Colorado, including those of us on the stretches before it becomes the Colorado, should share in the pain. If you can lie next to your large, chlorinated pool on your perfectly-manicured Kentucky bluegrass lawn in Phoenix, then go in and take a half-hour shower to wash off your suntan lotion same as always, you’re not nearly as likely to empathize with the farmer who lives an hour north of you, the farmer outstanding in his or her fallow fields, now are you?

But today my despair has turned to anger. White-hot anger, enough to set two or three California forests alight. I always thought “so angry I couldn’t see straight” was just an idle expression, but it turns out that can really happen.

One of Lynn’s co-workers, a fan of the former president and anti-everything: masks, vaccines, science, liberals, government (except for covid testing, apparently), democracy — well, it’s a long list and I’m just getting started. At any rate, she has tested positive for covid.

Probably you’re not supposed to know this. Probably I’m not supposed to know this. Probably she should have told her boss, and then probably her boss should have taken a modicum of protection for his other workers and his postal patrons. But this is America 2021, and things just happen. Oh, well.

We don’t know how effective Lynn’s vaccines are going to be. She is among the immuno-compromised. The CDC puts this at around 3% of the U.S. population, but given all the people I know, it feels more like 85%. Whatever the number, Lynn is part of it. She has a slew of auto-immune diseases, and takes an immuno-suppressant for one of them.

The Associated Press made it sound like your vaccine take-up may depend on what medications you are taking for immuno-suppression, but of course no one has listed what those medications might be. Lynn keeps asking her rheumatologist about a booster vaccine, but has gotten very little in the way of feedback.

Just last night one of my several friends named Karen, the one who volunteers at the newly-re-opened call center, where she was kept quite busy yesterday afternoon, told me what Lynn needs to do to find out if she should get a booster vaccine now, rather than waiting until September or October or November or whenever us overprivileged Americans can get a third shot, made necessary because too many people are buying into misinformation that is easy enough to skirt if they would just watch ABC, CBS or NBC rather than Fox and Facebook, while most of the rest of the world is still waiting for one shot of any sort of vaccine at all.

But Lynn might need that third, although maybe it’s already too late due to a co-worker smug in her right-eousness and patriotism. I’m not quite certain when it became a sign of your Americanness to revel in ignorance, but these days the stupid morons seem to be leading the charge with their flags straight into the hospital. From there it’s a quick jump into the ICU and then the morgue, or maybe a morgue trailer, which is what Texas has deemed the federal government can do for it.

I am so angry! And so tired of this loud minority asserting that their right to get sick, then recant about their position on vaccines, and then die, trumps any rights I might have, because my rights are somehow less patriotic.

I had already started wearing a mask once again at work. All eight of my co-workers are vaccinated, but not all of their loved ones are, including at least one conspiracy monger and one who finally got her first vaccine so that she can go to bars in the city she’s moving to (so, nowhere south of here). But I have no idea how many of our customers, many of them from south of here, might be vaccinated. I decided I can’t control the actions of others, but I can wear my mask when I’m in the parts of the store near where our customers have been.

But today I’m wearing it everywhere, not to protect myself and subsequently Lynn, but to protect my co-workers from Lynn and subsequently myself. And I am wondering, if I need to quarantine or if Lynn or I get sick, if we have any legal recourse, like suing her co-worker for our lost wages and any medical bills we might incur.

Since Lynn’s co-worker went to Montrose for the free covid test at Walgreen’s rather than paying for one at a clinic here in Gunnison (might as well let the government we hate take care of this, hm? Because white middle-class America deserves it so much more than anyone else, except maybe the rich?), I don’t even know if our county public health is going to end up being notified to conduct whatever contact tracing they deem necessary.

Her co-worker is not at work, but instead of feeling bad about all the people she might have infected, she is concerned about her vacation plans.

I suggest, especially if you’ve tried to do the right thing all along, that you steer clear of the Gunnison post office for the next 10 to 14 days and avoid everyone who works there and everyone who lives with them. Because we would certainly hate to curtail Lynn’s dumb-ass co-worker’s rights. Freedom!

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