Our lives in the time of the Coronavirus

By Peter Rose

The disorientation that has resulted from this sharp, stark line in history is felt by everyone. So many of our markers of normal are – at best suspended – and will be found in many cases to have been relegated to the distant past of early March 2020.  

The speed of our transition away from our various norms has been breathtaking (literally, unfortunately).  

As I begin to write this on March 26, only three weeks have passed since the news stopped for any other topic. The damage wreaked upon our civilization is already shocking and yet is still only looming.  

The real fallout has not occurred; it is anticipated and is being braced for, but it is still only theoretical in our experience. I still don’t know anyone that has been stricken, although it is only one or two steps removed. At any time that could change – for all of us. 

Financially and operationally, we don’t yet know the residual impact of the shutdowns. 

Wrangling aside, it really is noteworthy for the U.S. Senate to have passed a bill of this magnitude as quickly as they did.

It remains to be seen how many of the bars, restaurants and shops that have been closed by edict will not be able to re-open; hopefully, this bill will include meaningful and readily available relief so as to truly help. Let alone all the actual people that will need help staying afloat.

Those businesses that bit the bullet and shut down before being mandated and those that curtailed all operations when they could have remained open are particularly worthy of respect and appreciation.  It’s called bravery, even if it is motivated by fear.  

My stores complied with the mandate, of course, but did what we felt we had to do until Tuesday, March 24 by staying open.  

Being as smart as possible, wiping and disinfecting incessantly. We didn’t want to tell our team it was time, and we have expenses that do not stop when the doors stay closed. I was personally very upset by the looming edict to shut bars and restaurants down and tried to support them before they did.  It’s my DNA.  

Small business is my passion, whether it be mine or anyone else that creates a niche, nurtures it, fans the flame and develops a following. This is my definition of capitalism. I love it, participate in it and defend it at nearly all costs.

I say “nearly” because the stories are already scary, and by the time you read this, they are predicted to be much scarier.  

I resisted the urgings to hunker down, shut down, stay home, and I am now feeling the nerves of it all. I am not panicky, but respectfully fearful, and additionally, I am so intensely aware of the havoc that is being wrecked on the machine that makes our nation work.  

What happens when we finally get the notification that it is safe to begin carefully returning to work and half the restaurants and shops and services that once provided our area with those things cannot share in that re-opening?  

It’s not an abstract question. I ask that you consider that and let it sink in just how devastating this has the capacity to be, on top of the taking of lives. And yet, the business community that includes mine does have to be second to the primary call to protect the people that patronize these businesses. Nothing else makes any sense at all. Right now, not much makes sense, period.

By the time of the next edition of these publications, I hope to be writing about things that are going on as we experience the waning days of this assault on our civilization.  

I hope now that this is not wishful thinking. Our year was beginning auspiciously, with both stores feeling a sense of optimism for 2020.  

Until March 10 or so, this was not on very many people’s radar screens. As this does subside, enabling the process of restoring normalcy, the independent and locally owned businesses of our Downriver area are going to be in greater need of support than ever.

You know that’s why I write these columns; to advocate for small, as the very best means of ensuring a vibrant local economy. To get as many people as possible to realize their own power in that process, and not deflate our bouncy ball by sending dollars away by means of national chains or internet options.  

With so much now on the line, I am urgently hoping, no, I am assertively predicting that when the chips are down and it will be even more true that every meal served makes a massive difference, when every item purchased at any indie business is also an investment in our own slice of heaven, our Downriver residents will rise to the occasion, once they are able.  

And don’t think I don’t feel that sort of pain for us all, too – the effects of reduced or eliminated pay are not to be minimized.

Please stay safe, my friends. Before any of the stuff I write about can mean anything at all, our people must be healthy, have to be alive and well and able to make the decision to “buy local.”  

People first, business somewhere after that. Be mindful that fear is everywhere, so be kind and thoughtful.  We are Downriver.

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