Thirtieth Entry


Store in Soho, New York during pandemic with yellow paper covering windows behind a stop walk sign with yellow hand

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

The quiet of the morning remains delicious.

Twenty-two million people have lost their jobs in the last four weeks in the US—a more rapid loss of jobs than in the Great Depression. Yesterday, the first $1,200 stimulus checks started arriving. It was reported that bank websites crashed all over the country as people checked their accounts. That money will go a lot further for some than for others.

I heard that a second generation of desert locusts will hatch in eastern Africa just as the crops start to come in.

I have not heard the word “dystopian” in at least two days now, but the word “depression” is creeping into news reports.

The governor’s new rule (law?) requiring that masks be worn in public (when in the proximity of others) goes into effect this evening at 8:00 pm. He also announced that the shutdown of non-essential business will be extended state-wide until May 15.

600 people died of Covid-19 yesterday in NY.

I heard a female commentator strongly state that the handshake should never return. She had a number of reasons for her opinion, many personal. For me, that is a very sad thought. A handshake is about the only physical contact that you can have with total strangers – no small thing, in my view. How many thousands of times have I been introduced to one or more people and shook each of their hands? These were direct physical contacts with people who I might never see again or might work with for thirty years, marry – whatever. Those handshakes were a starting point for what was ahead—a meeting, a meal, a battle, sealing a deal, a thank you, a farewell.

Like hairdos, tattoos, shoes, and jewelry, a handshake can communicate a lot, even if it only lasts a second or so. I recall a friend meeting and shaking hands with a young man. Later, he told me that the fellow he had been introduced to would “never last” as a mutual friend’s boyfriend. He was quite right. His only information was the handshake.

I have never seen men with powdered wigs or short tights, nor do I expect those trends to reappear in the next decade or two. George Washington bowed, the Quakers refused to do that. A young woman curtseyed in my office a few years ago, but prior to that, I had not seen a curtsey since square dancing in school. Nothing lasts forever.

At the rate we are going, the handshake replacement may be a bling ping from your cell phone, or in a few years, perhaps a hovering emoji hologram. Losing the simple human gesture of grasping another person’s hand—actual contact, dirt, sweat, germs and all that comes with it is not something I would choose.