I want to talk about some other anxieties besides the Big C, for a change.
That USPS might fold in June is scary. I rarely get mail that matters to me anymore, but there are some serious problems with the end of postal service.
For one thing, we are in a pandemic. I know — I made it sound at the start like I wouldn’t bring up that Big C. But, one of the great things we have going for us here in Washington state is we can already vote by mail. We’ve been doing it for years, we’re good at it, and we don’t have to switch over to it in the middle of a campaign. It’s right there, waiting for us.
Unless Trump succeeds in preventing the U.S. Postal Service from continuing in business.
If so, how will the August and November elections play out here? Are all the old voting machines still lying around in someone’s closet or basement? Where will my polling place be? Is that all going to be straightened out by August? Who’ll sanitize all the black pens?
I live within walking distance of King County Admin, so if the state could get my ballots to me, I could just walk there and drop them in the ballot bin as usual, if I’m not locked up in an ICU. That may not work in Carnation. But, all the same, will the state really Fed Ex all the ballots?
In times of crisis, I can’t stop worrying about every tiny little thing. Speaking of: Food comes one bite at a time. What am I going to do when the food stops coming?
Anitra “intimate of tomato plants” Freeman and I are now living in an apartment with a northwest exposure. It gets about three hours of sunlight a day. I don’t think we’re going to be growing tomatoes in the living room any time soon — by “we,” of course I mean Anitra. I couldn’t grow a dandelion.
The news scares me with stories of meat plants shutting down, farmers leaving produce to rot in their fields and dairy producers pouring milk down drains. The federal government isn’t stepping in because it’s all just a sign of your benevolent free market at work. The market is your supreme being. It always does what’s best. That’s why Seattle’s economy is so great for everyone who lives here.
Have you ever wondered why Idaho is so famous for potatoes? I’ll tell you. When the first settlers got to Idaho and saw what kind of land they had to grow crops on, they all shrugged and said, “I guess we’ll be growing potatoes.”
Anitra has apparently sublimated my food anxieties. This past week, she dug up a slew of old Irish recipes for potatoes, onions and cabbages. It’s like we’re practicing for the next famine.
Actually this is an ongoing thing with her. She has also trained up as a local plant forager. She can walk four or five blocks down a residential street carrying a basket and at the end, it will be full of a day’s worth of salad. She’s especially good at spotting edible flowers.
Food banks are dealing with COVID-19 by boxing non-perishables so people don’t have to wait in line. Some are having most people drive up to the food bank and pop their trunks open so a box-o-staples can be loaded in back, and they can drive off without ever having to risk exchanging infections. It’s great for people who have cars and kitchens.
For homeless people, I guess it’s going to be boxed meals passed out once or twice a day at various locations by people in hazmat outfits.
Another anxiety I have concerns bureaucracy. Crises like these breed bureaucratic responses, and bureaucrats and I don’t get along.
When last on state welfare, I had a “counselor” with the Department of Social and Health Services Bottom of Form who advised I was spending too much on food. “You should buy in bulk.”
So I said, where do I put it? I’m homeless. She said, “get a station wagon.”
I said, with what money? The money I save from not eating one month? I asked to see her supervisor. I was told, “no, we don’t do that,” and after I asked to see the supervisor’s boss, I was permanently banned from all in-person consultations at DSHS.
I anxiously await a repeat of that in the near future.
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 Apr. 22-28, 2020 issue.