It’s not the movies, but the experience…

When the great plague started and everything closed, the one I thought I’d miss most was going to see movies at a proper theater. Sure, I liked going to the earliest possible showing of whatever I wanted to see in order to avoid any semblance of a crowd, but I enjoyed the theater experience… by which I might mean the overly buttered popcorn and proper fountain Cokes. Despite my general intolerance of public spaces, there was just something about seeing a first run movie on the big screen that can’t be replicated in the comfort of my own living room.

It’s been nine months since I’ve gone to see a movie… and surprisingly I haven’t really missed it. In fact, I haven’t thought much about it at all. I wonder how much of that has been the general lack of movies being released in the plague era. It’s not like there have been a parade of blockbusters just begging to be watched this summer. 

In the before time I almost always used a long weekend as an excuse to check out the latest offering at the local multiplex, so I guess Labor Day has me thinking about the old days. I’m wondering when the next time will be for gorging on popcorn and sucking down a 44-ounce soda… or if that’s one of those things I’ll ever go back to doing. With every month gone by, it feels distinctly less likely that I’ll ever be completely comfortable sitting in a dark theater even if it’s only with the six other people there for the 10 AM showing.

I miss the proper theater popcorn, though. I wonder if Regal would do a carryout order. 

Grains of truth…

I live in a reliably Republican voting county in a blue-voting state. Being one part interested in what’s happening in the community and one-part nosy bastard, I’m a member of several “community based” Facebook groups. Nowhere I visit online is more politically charged than most of these groups. Both the free shit for everyone lefties and Trump is the best president in history crowd are well represented. I think both sides there are idiots, but that’s not my point here.

If you’re anywhere on social media it’s probably impossible to miss the people who are rabidly clamoring to “open now.” Their argument almost universally is centered around some variation of “Well, if you don’t feel safe just stay home” and/or “Small businesses need to start making money.” Take away the vitriol with which those sentiments are spewed across the internet and I fully understand the argument. 

Small businesses, having largely been shuttered for two months, are absolutely in danger of never opening their doors again. The “open now” crowd wants desperately to believe proclaiming businesses open will restore the world to the way it was in February. When the doors to all these businesses finally fly open, this sub-section of people will, I’m sure, crowd in. The other, and I presume larger percentage of people, will not be part of the swarm. This second group are those who don’t feel safe and, on the advice of the first group, have opted to “just stay home.” Sure, they may loosen their self-imposed restrictions a bit, but it won’t be with the free-for-all, madcap, devil-may-care embrace that the “open now” crew advocates. 

Even here in reliably red Cecil County, I have a hard time imagining businesses small and large filled anywhere even close to capacity again any time soon. Business can be all the open they want to be and if people don’t show up in mass, they still won’t make their margin. No one wants to hear this nugget, but my take is that whether open or closed here in last third of May, hundreds of thousands of businesses that were going concerns at Christmastime will be shuttered permanently by Independence Day… and there’s virtually nothing that’s going to stop it from happening.

I don’t take any pleasure in even thinking it because there’s a laundry list of businesses, both small and large, that I patronize, or I use to patronize, fairly regularly. I may be tempted back to a few of the used book shops sooner rather than later – as often enough I’ve had those places to myself even before the Great Plague. But sitting down in a restaurant, packing in shoulder to shoulder at a concert, or even wandering the aisles at the average retail establishment? Yeah, that’s a no from me for the foreseeable future. 

The grain of truth in the “open now” argument is that yes, I will do my own risk assessment and keep my ass at home until I determine (based on the advice of scientists and not politicians) that it’s reasonably safe to do otherwise. Then again, no one has ever had to encourage me to stay home, so maybe I simply lack the impulse that inspires other people to need to pull up a stool to their favorite bar in defiance of basic logic and common sense.

2 hours…

I’ve lost track of the number of snow related 2- and 4-hour delays and closures we’ve had this winter. This morning just adds one more to the tally. The only thing I can say is that “they’ve” been marvelously inconsistent in how they choose to respond to each and every snow event. This morning, for instance, is another two hour delay. That might be the right decision based on conditions where such decisions are being made, but being a guy who lives 45 minutes from the office, my conditions and theirs don’t always correspond. Such is the case this morning. From what I can see of the surface conditions outside, even if I leave two hours later than normal, it’ll be half an hour meetingsdemotivatorbefore I get to a road where I can see blacktop. Based on past experience, a good estimate is that my drive in will take take about twice as long as usual.

After a winter of having delays announced, rescinded, changed, renounced, and extended, my visceral instinct is to give it an old fashioned “screw you guys, I’m staying home” today. Sure, that would mean giving back the two hours of admin time this morning and burning off a full 8 hours of leave. I’ve got a mountain of leave banked, so that’s not really the issue.

The one hang up I have is that at some point this morning I’m supposed to be in a meeting. It’s not a meeting I’m particularly interested in, but it’s mine. And I feel a inexplicable level of guilt at pawning it off on one of my poor unsuspecting colleagues. I don’t know why. There are plenty who have no compunction about taking a day of unscheduled leave and dropping their shit in someone else’s lap to deal with. Still, I hate the idea of being “that guy.”

Of course none of that means at 0800, I won’t make the call, but I want you all to know that I’ll be positively racked with guilt about it if things go that way.

Indecisive much?

open-closed2 (1)

With the lives and economic livelihood of 20,000 odd people in your hands, being a decisive leader is clearly important. While I would never criticize those empowered to make difficult and important decisions, I will cheerfully provide you with a timeline of events and let you draw your own conclusions about how the story unfolds.


Tuesday, January 21st:
– 7:57PM: Opening is delayed 4 hours. Liberal leave is not in effect.
– 8:02PM: Correction. Liberal leave is in effect.
– 8:44PM: Opening is delayed 2 hours. Liberal leave is in effect for Wednesday, January 21st.
– 8:46PM: Opening is delayed 2 hours. Liberal leave is in effect for Wednesday, January 22nd

Wednesday, January 22nd:
– 5:32AM: Opening is delayed 4 hours. Liberal leave is in effect.

I’m tempted to add an entry for 10:00AM, when I’m projecting someone will make a decision to shut it down for the day, but since that hasn’t happened, I’ll stick to reporting the facts as they happened and let the future tend to itself.

It seems to me that over the course of ten hours, we waffled, vacillated, and ended up more or less right back where we were at around 8PM yesterday. I’m not saying anyone is indecisive much, but the simple facts of the case are what they are.

Too soon?

After driving to the office a few weeks ago only to find that they had closed for the day without giving much of any advanced notice, I’ve opted to go ahead and ignore official guidance (whenever it comes at all) and establish my own policy for when to come and go in craptastic weather. This morning, for instance, I made a showing at the office, but pulled the plug at 1000. I cleared the parking lot and the security gate in my usual 10 minutes. Twenty minutes later, official word came down that liberal leave was in effect. Maybe twenty minutes after that, they announced that post was closing for the day. 20,000 people immediately got in their cars and jammed the gate for the next hour. By the time people who waited for “the word” got their gear and headed out, I was already home sitting in my fuzzy slippers. It’ll end up costing me 2 hours of annual leave since they didn’t formally close until noon, but I’ll trade 2 hours of leave for not spending an hour or more sitting in traffic at the gate any time.

The moral of the story is that when it comes to my health, welfare, safety, and convenience, I’m taking the decisions out of the hands of “something corporate” and making them myself from here on out. Unless or until the decision-making improves, I’ll cheerfully trade my earned leave for some semblance of sanity in how things work. I may not always make the “right” decision, but by god I’ll always make one in a timely manner. Maybe I’m just too damned old and cynical to sit around waiting for permission when forgiveness is almost always available.

So, is it too soon to start agitating for a closure tomorrow? Or authorized liberal leave? That would work too.