My beautiful darlings, we are still here. Although I could not tell you where. Things are changing, now, on a daily basis. And this seems to be the only certain thing. I have arranged the couch in order to be at the right height for typing, placed an additional monitor and keyboard on the low tables we have […]
My beautiful darlings, we are still here. Although I could not tell you where.
Things are changing, now, on a daily basis. And this seems to be the only certain thing.
I have arranged the couch in order to be at the right height for typing, placed an additional monitor and keyboard on the low tables we have always used to dine and work. On one monitor I have the Esri dashboard monitoring the real-time spread of Covid-19. Not because I’m paranoid, but because I hope I’ll be able to divine, within the motion of those numbers and bubbles, how things will be tomorrow and how my life will be affected by this. Every evening now, throughout the whole week, our Government came out at pretty much this hour and announced a new, more strict measure in order to contain the spread of the disease. I am waiting to know what the announcement will be tonight.
When I first wrote to you, it was February 25th and we had 206 confirmed cases of infection. The second time, on March 1st, we were just coming out of our first week of voluntary self-isolation and we had been required to hold on an additional week. On March 8th, Milan was considered “red zone”.
It was this Sunday, but it feels like a lifetime ago.
I can’t remember what the fuck happened and when.
I am pretty sure that on Monday we could get out of the house because I went with a client of mine and I did the streaming of a lesson. And I remember I already knew I would stream the rerun from my home, but it wasn’t mandatory back then. We went to lunch and we were placed on tables 1 meter apart from each other. It was weird. And sensible. We tried to smile.
I brought home the additional monitor and keyboard I already told you about. And my LEGO. I knew the training center was going to stay closed for a month and we were going to mostly stay at home. It was sensible. It was responsible. We were prepared to do it, even if we had been avoiding most contacts with anybody for two weeks already. We had work to do. We knew staying at home was not going to be a vacation. It was more like we were preparing for a war that had to be fought with performing digital instruments.
By Tuesday morning, if you wanted to get out of the house you had to self-certify that you were getting out of the house for a very good reason. And you were kindly advised not to if you could avoid it. Ok.
By Wednesday, you couldn’t get out of the house unless you had to go and buy important stuff. Like toilet paper. People seem to care a lot about toilet paper these days.
Yesterday evening, all stores except food stores and pharmacies were required to shut down.
That was quite the escalation.
So, as you might understand, tonight I am waiting to know what life will be like tomorrow.
One thing, anyway, is pretty clear to me. It’s in a crisis that you see the true colors of people and some people are showing their true colors. Oh boy, are they not.
This morning, I was reading an article on what you might call our local Financial Times, and it was about construction companies complaining because their employees were either self-quarantined, properly quarantined or simply refusing to come to work in what was known back then as the “red zone”. You should read it. Except it’s in Italian and behind the paywall.
Companies and people are showing their true nature and we should not forget the faces we are seeing right now. Faces of people pondering to put all their workers on unpaid leave, because of some legal loophole and exploiting the poor contractual setups for lots of freelancers in our industry. Faces of people full of spite, dancing happily because other people are without a job. Faces of people forgetting common sense, compassion and responsibility. Faces of people who see this as a chance only to behave like assholes a little more. Faces of people who could not survive finding their own asses if they were laid in front of them.
This afternoon, after an intense albeit fruitful conference call with a client, I went out.
Do not panic. Do not start judging.
I went out to buy food.
That is still allowed.
I went out to buy food because we were out of meat, vegetables, rice, and pasta.
We were not going to starve, my partner can whip up some kick-ass fresh pasta with just flour and water, apparently, plus we have tuna and beans to last till summer, but still one could use something else to eat.
So that’s me, getting dressed and stepping out of the house.
Streets are empty and very very silent. Occasionally you meet someone, mostly walking alone, some of them are wearing a mask and some of them are not. I am not.
Birds are chirping. There’s an intense lack of that constant dull noise cars make in the distance, in my city.
Well, I ignore the pharmacy and take a stroll up the avenue. Shops are closed as if something happened, closed in a hurry and not properly closed as you would see in August. The order came out late at night, yesterday. None of them had time to prepare. I pass by all of them, the closed bookstore, the baker (closed as well), an open baker wearing a thick mask. I go to visit a small store with delicious Südtirol specialties. I often go there and I imagined they would be struggling with unsold food, having had a similar experience with the baker in my neighborhood just the previous week.
I was right. It is empty and desolate and the girl is very very sad.
They have lots of things they were not selling and I try to do my part. Those würstels will not go uneaten.
Then I double down headed towards the local supermarket. And that is my mistake.
There’s a medium-sized crowd of silent, very ordered people waiting outside. A little too ordered, for my taste. I inquire. “Is this the queue for something?”. A man turns and stares at me as you would stare at an idiot. And then it hits me. It’s the queue to get in.
The 1-meter limit.
I double back.
There’s a small grocery store I have never visited before and it’s empty, just like the first one. They have specialties from southern Italy. Good stuff. I buy bread, pasta, oranges. They almost beg me to buy a mozzarella, before they have to throw it away.
Another store on the avenue, one of frozen goods, has plenty of vegetables and meat. Frozen, but still. And it is empty as well. They also have beer. Thank God. I do not need a supermarket anymore.
By the time I am heading back to my house, the crowd is a large one. I am pretty sure that lots of them were not able to get in before the store had to close, at 6 pm. Because food stores can stay open only between 8 am and 6 pm. For now.
With empty stores just a stone’s throw from the supermarket, why were people queuing to get in? Why were they there and not in the other stores?
I have no clue.
The only clue I have is terrifying. People are saving money and the supermarket is cheaper.
The first two are gourmet stores. I get it.
But the frozen goods store is no gourmet and prices are lower than at the supermarket.
I don’t understand.
What I do understand is that the whole thing was able to give me anxiety.
I am never anxious about anything.
Shit. This thing really is contagious.
So I sit.
And wait for numbers to update.
My contingency plan in one hand.
My other contingency plan in the other hand.
I don’t have a third hand, but if I had it would hold a contingency plan.
We will get out of it. I know we will.
But not today.