After decades of telling us that shelter couldn’t be found, it got done as soon as it seemed homeless people could pass this virus to the non-homeless.
I don’t know what’s crazier: we’re all going down the tubes because of a virus, we’re all going down the tubes because of a president, or NASA is going to let Tom Cruise shoot a movie at the International Space Station.
So far, who’s even trying to guess what the movie will be about? Mission Impossible 9?
How about a heartwarming rom com? He’s an aging American billionaire who’s totally lost his mojo. He buys a one-way ticket to the ISS, to end it all there. She’s a lively, out-of-this-world idealist and Russian cosmonaut who at first plays hard to get, but they end up together at a motel outside of Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, where he teaches her how to beat the stock market, play gin rummy and cribbage, all while sucking her soul dry until the credits roll.
OK, so I don’t really know what a rom com is.
If it turns out to be “Top Gun” set in the U.S. Space Force, I’ll be annoyed, unless it includes a space battle against aliens and alien spaceships get blown up.
A weightless version of “Rain Man” could be cool. Get Dustin Hoffman in space, too, to be Raymond again. “Raymond: I get my boxer shorts at K-Mart in Cincinnati. / Charlie: We’re not going back to Cincinnati, Ray, so don’t even start with that.”
NASA is planning a new space station, this one called the Integrated Lunar Gateway, which will be in high orbit around the moon rather than Earth, hopefully in 2023. Tom Cruise could film a sequel in a brand-new location, with all different carpets and wallpaper, and different sights out of the windows.
Astronomers just found a black hole only 1,000 light-years away. Sadly, that’s still too far for us to send Cruise to make a movie. We need to find one a lot closer.
Speaking of space, recently a space rock fell from the sky and exploded somewhere north of Seattle. Zombie brain-eating murder hornets have come to our cul-de-sacs looking for fresh chihuahua brains. We can’t catch a break.
If it isn’t one thing, it’s something else. Last week, President Donald “Art of the Deal” Trump decided he might just let the U.S. Postal Service continue to exist, but only provided they quadruple charges for packages. Right in the middle of extended lockdowns, when everyone is ordering goods to be delivered. All I wanted was new underpants from a Cincinnati K-mart.
[Stray thought: When you mail-order underpants, and they charge for shipping and handling, what exactly does “handling” entail in this context?]
We get breaks we don’t believe in. Suddenly, as the coronavirus got really scary, Seattle and King County miraculously found the resources to expand the number of homeless shelters so that people didn’t have to be packed in so closely, and even found a way to pay for homeless people to be put up in hotels and motels. After decades of telling us that finding more and better shelter couldn’t be done overnight, it got done overnight as soon as it looked like homeless people could pass this virus along to the non-homeless.
Now what everyone I know in homeless services is asking is: If and when the pandemic winds down, will the improvements be snatched away? My bet is yes.
What won’t be snatched away will be Seattle’s new Stay Healthy Streets, liberated for pedestrians. Mayor Jenny Durkan says that liberation will be permanent. We’re now talking about at least 20 miles of streets, up from the 9 miles worth I talked about last week. More miles will be added later if there is enough clamor for them.
In conclusion, let’s talk about Cov-etiquette.
People, please. Do not ride the bus unless it’s an essential trip. Stay 6 feet away from everyone. No hoarding, especially of toilet paper, rescue kittens and stinky cheese. No hand-shaking. Learn to bow, curtsy or wave hi from a distance. Wear your mask.
That’s right, I said wear your mask. I only go out to two places these days: a supermarket and a drugstore. Because I have needs, you know? Why is it half the people I see in either place don’t wear masks? What, they all got tested that morning and the test was negative?
Really? How about wearing a big stupid sign around your neck: “I tested negative for COVID-19 this morning.” We’ll know it’s a lie, but we’ll at least appreciate the effort.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd. He can be reached at drwes (at) realchangenews (dot) org
Read more in the May 13-19, 2020 issue.