COVID Crisis Post 70: Memorial Day - Mimic Asia to Honor Our Fallen.
This Memorial Day had a little surprise for us.
I love being outdoors. It truly heals the soul. So when two of my good friends and work colleagues asked me to join them and a few others for a hike just north of NYC, I jumped on the opportunity. Though I was not necessarily excited about the prospect of waking up earlier than normal 😅.
We all met in the morning by my friend Marny's place since she would be the one driving the three of us. We were excited for the prospect of a nice day hiking, the sky overcast and a little cool, making it seem like ideal hiking weather. But since it IS 2020, things have a tendency to go off script.
So lo and behold: the Grand Canyon of potholes, located in the perfect place on the George Washington Bridge, caused a massive flat tire only 20 minutes in our drive and thusly derailed our plans.
Soon after, we were in the parking lot of a Brownstone Pancake Factory waiting for a tow truck to take my friend's car away since there was no spare tire unfortunately in the car. The place was open for business, and based on what I saw, it is a place I would happily go back to and support.
EVERY employee wore a mask. Every customer who ordered also wore a mask unequivocally unless they ordered from the confines of their car. There was no screaming, no protesting. People just did it. It was so easy.
And on top of all of that, the employees were incredibly kind to us. Any time they did not have a customer, they were making phone calls to tire shops in the area to see if we could get a replacement tire. The whole situation was actually amusing, and soon after, all of us, even Marny, were just taking in the ridiculousness and enjoying one another's company.
After ordering a carnitas quinoa breakfast bowl after working up an appetite laughing - pretty decent I might say - and the tow guy arriving to do his thing, we decided to not let this silly incident derail our day.
We were flattened. But then we arose. Tee-hee.
We decided to take one of the employee's suggestions and walked down the road, where we found a path that allowed us to walk next to the Hudson River for a few miles.
For me, it was never about the trail we were going to hike, but spending the day with people who I care about. Laughing, smiling, making new memories. These are the things that matter. As Robert Brault once said - thanks Neeta for the quote:
"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize that they were the big things."
So my day was still great. There is a silver lining in almost everything, people.
Many are screaming about reopening, and many are trying to just go back to normal without making any effort whatsoever to adjust the way they live. But as I have stated previously, the way we approach this post-opening world needs to be coordinated. I am a firm believer in following the Asian model to make this doable and safe, and after what I saw today while on our adventure, I realized the Asian model is doable at least in pockets of America.
I have spoken extensively about South Korea, but places like Taiwan and Hong Kong, amongst others, have been amongst the most successful countries in the world in curtailing the pandemic.
Japan is an interesting case study because they did not initiate wide-spread testing nor did not close down their cities, and relative to many of their Asian neighbors, they did not fare well at the beginning. There was criticism about Japan initially due to their "late" response compared to other Asian nations, but now after a couple of months, it is clear how well they did comparatively to the rest of the world, with the US being absolutely TROUNCED.
The number of deaths has been MUCH lower than what was expected, and they were able to flatten their curve for the time being. Even accounting for the possibility of a less contagious strain, they did very well. How did they achieve this? Most experts cannot point to just one thing.
Because there seems to be a multitude of factors that contributed to this success.
Over 50k (!!!) contact tracers dispatched VERY EARLY to trace and track infections when there were only a relatively small number of cases.
They learned from their mistakes, especially after seeing how weak quarantine measures on a cruise ship allowed uncontrolled spread of the virus aboard, causing many hundreds to get sick. They realized if it could happen on a cruise ship, it could happen in their country.
A culture of collectivism, where the VAST majority of the population VOLUNTARILY wear masks to ensure they and those around them do not get sick.
These are ALL things we could have done as a country. But man, it is embarrassing how the inhabitants of this country behave.
Be Like Mike? Nah son, this ain't my last dance. He may be an American sports legend, but I think I need some Linsanity in my life.
So time to Be Like Asia.
Throughout the day, we all followed the 3 C's: avoided Closed spaces, Crowded spaces, and Close-contact settings like Japan and many other Asian countries followed.
We wore a mask at all times when social distancing could not be maintained, and even when it could, we took them off rarely. Yes, social distancing works so masks are not always needed. But I can only speak for myself when I say I just wanted to get used to wearing a mask when it is warm out - yeah, the masks made my face HOT as the day warmed up - rather than constantly battle my psyche about the mask.
We need to learn how to adapt. Being able to do so is essential for survival, whether as a species, a business, or a country as a whole.
Is it uncomfortable and a pain in the ass to not have full use of my left shoulder? Fuck, yes.
But you know what? I HAVE ADAPTED TO THE DISCOMFORT. I am able to still do a great number of things, just with some modifications. People need to adapt to our current situation, to figure out a way to make life work within the constructs of a worldwide pandemic.
Because honestly, it really is NOT that hard.
And it seemed almost everyone we saw in this stretch of Englewood Cliffs down to Edgewater in New Jersey wanted to Be Like Asia too.
There was respect for others and their space. There were groups without masks on, mainly at picnic tables, but those RARE few who were walking at least tried to maintain social distancing the vast majority of the time. >95% of all people we saw walking outside wore masks including MANY children, even though it was warm.
Asia has been successful in curtailing the virus because they listened to the experts. Their societies collectively give a damn about one another.
But the death of expertise and individual selfishness in this country makes it impossible to follow a similar model. The freedom that makes our country great is also our Achilles heel.
However, I learned on this Memorial Day there are many people in this country who DO care about others. Who listen to the experts. Who are willing to play their part, to adapt, so we can, collectively, get this country back onto the path of "normalcy".
These people are the true patriots. The ones who truly put country first before themselves. The people who our soldiers sacrificed their lives to protect.
I want to thank you for your sacrifice. And after today, I can unequivocally say many agree with my sentiment as well.
We do not want your sacrifice to be in vain.