It’s a beautiful Saturday morning in September, with bright blue skies starting to brighten New York City streets.
I’m getting my car serviced. I’m usually diligent about changing the oil every three months or 30,000 miles — but now, I’m off schedule by five months and the engine has been marinating in old oil, so this is on the list of things I’m worried about. Additionally, one of my tires has a slow leak and I’ve been spending the few quarters I have (in the midst of a coin circulation crisis) to fill it up with air every few weeks, which are…three more things on the list of things I’m worried about.
The only places I’ve gone to in the past six months are essential services such as the supermarket, post office, pharmacy and wine store. I’m the first customer to arrive today, and to avoid being enclosed in the waiting area with other customers when they arrive, I grab a beach chair from my trunk and sit outside between the service bays.
About a dozen mechanics are in their navy coveralls, focused on getting their workday underway. As other customers arrive, they have the same thought that I did and stay outside. Right now, they’re all male customers in various states of Saturday morning comfort attire…. T-shirts, long basketball shorts, lots of Yankee caps, gray sweatpants (‘tis the season), sneakers and socks and slides. Many of them holding cups of coffee from the 7-Eleven across the street, and few masks being worn correctly, if at all.
Where are the women? Did no other women need their car serviced here today? Or, are these men emissaries for a woman in their life?
It occurs to me, that a paper cover was placed on my floor mat before it was taken into the service bay… all the mechanics are wearing coveralls to protect their clothes from dirt and grease… but, some aren’t wearing masks to reduce the potential of them catching or transmitting the virus.
The customers don’t seem to know each other, but are chatting like longtime buddies. “What are you in for?” “I need two new tires. How about you?” “I need spark plugs and blah, blah, blah…” They’re standing in a circle, nodding understandingly at each other’s car ailments. I give up trying to eavesdrop because I can’t understand the language of mechanics.
Instead, I’m now focused on the fact that the guys are less than six feet apart and am feeling anxious for them.
I’m old enough to remember hundreds of people dying daily less than a handful of months ago. I want to use my outside voice to politely suggest that social distancing probably wouldn’t be a bad idea, but immediately have visions of someone pulling out a cellphone, recording me and it going viral. Is there a name for a brown-skin Karen? I don’t want to be that and don’t want to find out.
Then, suddenly I’m anxious for me, because one of the guys without a mask or coffee is coming in my direction, which is next to a soda vending machine. Mentally, I’m making the sign of the Cross and wishing I had Clorox holy water to sprinkle in his general direction.
Thankfully, he doesn’t take too long to scan the options and leaves empty-handed. Now, I’m temporarily focused on the vending machine options — there are buttons for orange Crush, Lipton Ice Tea, Pepsi, Cool Blue Gatorade and ginger ale.
Do I find the mixture of selections odd or that a vending machine is even located here, especially when there is a 7-Eleven across the street? How often does it get serviced? Are the sodas in it, as old as the oil in my engine? Why isn’t there Sierra Mist or a lemon-lime option? Has anyone wiped down the surface recently? Ever? Is $1.25 expensive for vending machine soda? Does anyone even have coins to use in it? Why do I have so many questions about this? I don’t know, but maybe it’s because this vending machine is a throwback to a simpler era of telephone booths and no pandemic.
It’s a beautiful Saturday morning in September and 188,000+ Americans are dead.
In six days, some of us will pause to remember the thousands of lives that were lost on one beautiful Tuesday morning in September.
It’s a beautiful Saturday morning in September and 188,000+ Americans are dead and more will die – some people have not paused to remember. And even though we know what can be done to prevent more deaths, some refuse to wear masks or stay six feet apart. These two things seem like easier asks than what we’ve had to go through at TSA for 19 years.
I need front brakes/rotors, an oil change, a tire patch and an inspection, so I’m going to be here for a bit.
I’m glad that it’s a beautiful Saturday morning — at least I’ll get a chance to cross three things off my list that I’ve been worried about.
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Be mindful, but please don’t worry much. Your writing takes the reader right to the very scene instantly. Thanks for the latest great read.
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Thought provoking read. We lost almost 3,000 people on September 11 and as of now 188,000 from COVID. We have remembrance ceremonies for the 9/11 losses but we seem to be ignoring the awful toll of COVID that isn’t over yet. Also, is pointing out a behavior that puts a person in jeopardy a “Karen” move? Is calling out an establishment on not monitoring the posted mask wearing requirement of their customers being a “Karen”? Sorry, I will continue to speak up to store management for not calling out people who are not wearing masks in their store or in buildings.
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