Hello again. Late day again. Was not supposed to be but the guy who is the department lead, who has self-quarantined, likely will not be back for at least a week; no one seems to know. That leaves me, the part-time liquor dude to manage the inventory as it were. Had a discussion with the store director and co-director this early afternoon. There were 3 pallets of wine and spirits still in receiving and needed to be brought out to the floor and worked onto the shelves. Since that is a job of more than one day for one guy, unless it would be a young strong dude, the director asked me, almost begged, if I could come in at least one day next week to work some more on it. So, I will probably go in one or two days, a few hours a day and see if I can get it done. I understand that management is also in a crunch. A few people have quit I believe, a few more are it seems self-quarantining. I am really hoping that we don’t start getting actively sick or positive-test employees in the store work-force.

But, there were a few bright spots! One, liquor sales are up 60 or 70%, job security! And supposedly drugs, don’t know what kind of stats these were, but drug purchases up 70%, and as most of us have heard, gun and ammo sales are through the roof! So, how are Americans dealing with shelter in place? Alcohol, Drugs and Guns!! Sounds like we are still in the Wild West. Have not heard any stats on sex but it is likely too soon to gather significant data. Other good news, the hourly employees will get $2/hr “hazard pay” increase for the next 3 weeks, and maybe will be extended if the shelter business continues, or not. Not a ton of money but I will take it. Also, we are supposed to get a shipment of masks for the employees this week. That would be good.

Funny but I am learning how most of the middle class or more actually, working poor, live. I am fortunate since I have Social Security and some pension and the job helps with doctor bills, vet bills, car repairs, etc. I could not live on $10 an hour if this were my only job. And 40% of Americans have no paid sick leave. I repeat, no, paid, sick leave. So, even now, many people with somewhat good jobs, have no paid sick leave. If they stay home out of fear of getting sick, or even if they are symptomatic, they can take vacation days. Maybe unpaid sick days. I know some people have paid sick leave, but read the stories, read the statistics. Many people are just out of luck. Really. So they can file for unemployment because the store where they worked closed, but it is a nightmare filing for unemployment. And then they wait. So, wild-eyed Socialists like Bernie Sanders, who Americans will not elect, want paid sick leave for everyone who works, and healthcare insurance for everyone so people do not go bankrupt if they are very ill, affordable education, paid leave for mothers who work and have a baby; what else, let’s see… we have the most inmates in prison of any developed country. Many are incarcerated if they cannot pay bail, even if they have not been convicted of anything. Or spending time because they cannot afford some court fees. This is true! I am not making it up. Read up on this crap.

Crap, crap, sorry, no I’m not. I am tired and was not going to write much but then my Socialist leanings leaked out. Sometimes that happens. Either I did not tighten the nuts down on my emotions or I have a leaky gasket. I will have to check on it in the morning after breakfast.

The rest of the good things that happened while I was very tired and could hardly wait to go home this evening: I was still unloading this pallet of around 30 or 40 cases of mainly wine, and hauling the cases to the shelves, unpacking them and arranging the bottles on the shelves. The pallet was where I had dropped it, off to one side of the liquor department and trying to not be in the way of shoppers walking by. It is hard to do, but I was making it. I had just picked up a heavy case of champagne and dropped it into a shopping cart to move it over the champagne aisle. I am sure I grunted and groaned; it was heavy, and as I said, I am no longer 20. A man dressed as a Muslim came over and asked me about a certain food item. This is common and I have done it often myself, in stores. I was dressed as a store employee so someone asks, “where is the rice?’ or “do you have any bananas?” or whatever. So I told him which aisle he would find the food item. He thanked me, then asked, ”sir, can I help you with that?” pointing at my cart. I thanked him and said, no I would be ok. But, this was another one of those moments, and I feel, experience them frequently, when total strangers connect and help each other. OK, this is an “aside”… I was not going to get religious OR political, I was just going to go to bed! I am tired, but stuff happens. I am reminded of an episode told me by a Muslim friend. I believe I have mentioned that I belong to a kind of community service group, DuPage United, that does not adequately describe it, but religious communities, Christian, Jewish and Muslim, cooperate together to help communities with various problems. In any case, a Muslim friend told me that once, during the afternoon prayers at a local Mosque, and I will not mention the specifics, although I am intimately aware of them; during prayers a jeep with 4 young “Americans!” yeah, teenage I believe, with a large Confederate flag attached, came onto the grounds of the Mosque, and began driving around the parking lot and surrounding the Mosque, honking and hollering like, well, like whatever. I would not claim them as my fellow Americans, but they were. As luck would have it, they ran into a ditch of some sort at the edge of the parking lot, and, jeeps being somewhat top-heavy, it overturned. A few Muslim men had been observing them and on guard for what might happen. In a minute, a crowd of Muslim men ran out, helped to right the jeep, and… somewhat subdued, the youngsters drove off with their Confederate flag. OK, I got that out of my system.

So, I finished the pallet and took the rest of the collapsed cardboard boxes back to the bailer, where the cardboard is made into bails and then sent off, eventually to China, I am told. I was getting ready to go home. I was tired, but I looked around the late-night store and saw a few stragglers, people who looked like they had been beat-up by life for many years, and they are still trying to make it. Some with masks, some just hoping they don’t get sick and die. Trying to care for themselves and for someone they care about. So, I had one of my emotional burps and looked around, feeling some kind of all-encompassing love for all these people who are living and trying to just survive and go forward. People, my friends, family, sorry I can’t always explain myself. I am very tired. Going to bed. Dog is already asleep.

Be well, stay safe, try to self-isolate. Care for each other. Love.

David, April 5, 2020

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