People Are Opting Out

People are opting out. Of life. I wonder why. Can we blame it all on Covid? No, I don’t think so. Yes, I think Covid threw a monkey wrench into life as we knew it. But if it hadn’t been Covid, I think it would have been something else.

For sure, the interruption to our social life is having an impact. Not feeling comfortable eating out in a busy, popular cafe is truly a downer. And I heard today that after a large, maskless meeting of CDC employees last week, 35 of them soon came down with Covid. So masking up in big groups or small rooms is tedious, but that hasn’t pushed me over the edge.

Everyone has a tipping point, and I felt like I reached mine last week. I was across the street for an eye exam and noticed that the very convenient, very helpful eye-ware shop was shuttered. Grrr, I thought. Decisions from much higher up, I was told. (Much higher up, in this case, means the bosses of the very large Catholic institution that now runs the show.)

But that wasn’t what did me in. Rather it was the discovery a few days later that the hospital gift shop was also being closed. WTF? Do the bishops disapprove of shopping? Do they not know that shopping is therapy? Do they not know that patients’ families need a distraction? Do they not know that we all need a treat or a magazine or a card for someone now and then? The gift shop was run by volunteers with about a half of a staff position or less doing oversight. WTF, indeed! 

Perhaps I could survive the loss of these two very handy businesses if they weren’t coming on top of the loss of Macy’s, Columbia Sportswear, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Chico’s, the neighborhood branch of our bank, a bunch of retail at Pacific Place, the pharmacy next to Gelatiamo, and retailers that I never patronized, but other people did and they helped keep downtown alive. 

Supposedly, there are more people downtown this week because Amazon said to show up at the office or else. Perhaps that means something now that even the Amazons of the world are laying people off. Granted, the people who work at Amazon don’t exactly support my kind of retail, but somehow they help the world look alive, even in their nerdy zombie state. There was certainly more traffic today when I managed to run two errands during morning and evening rush hours by mistake. Note to self: avoid rush hours again!

I don’t think the lack of shopping options is the primary factor leading to the deep pessimism that I and others are feeling. It’s pretty easy to thump the table and grumble at the loss of a gift shop, but I’m confident that the pessimism derives from more serious problems. Such as the wildly dysfunctional national government, the wildly stupid extremes of the culture wars, the wildly ridiculous length of being on hold for answers to the simplest of questions. And construction, still going on everywhere! And the transit interruptions, and the absence of oatmeal in the Bistro, and  the impossible wait times for elevator repairs, and the endless timelines for  “corridor refurbishment,” and the incomplete remodel of our main meeting room such that the audio doesn’t work on one day and the lighting doesn’t work on another day, and no, the drapes are not here yet.

Nothing ever gets finished. The finish line might as well not exist: no one will ever get to it. 

Hence pessimism. For older folks such as myself, this is taking a toll. You know things are bad when people are opting to end their lives by VSED – that’s “Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking” to you youngsters out there. It is not an easy way to die. But guns are not allowed in my retirement community. Frankly, I’d buy a gun and break that rule before starving myself to death. Seriously, what are they going to do to me? Kick me out? Ha. That’s the whole point of the exercise. 

I actually am not at that degree of pessimism yet, but it is sad to see that others are. And I am well and truly frustrated with the state of the world. I’ve been well and truly frustrated for quite a while, but Ukraine just did me in, even more than the way we mucked up Covid. Could we please just enable Ukraine to win this war within my lifetime? Please! Just win it! 

Well, I live in Seattle, and our hockey team, the Kraken, are in the second round of the playoffs – in just their second year of existence. I see why some people tune out the news and tune in to sports. But then once the game is over, the corridors are still not finished, there is still no oatmeal in the Bistro, Madison Street is still a mess, and the AV system in Anderson Hall will likely never be complete. 

So we are heading out of town for a few days in eastern Washington. I don’t care if it rains or snows or we are blinded by the sun. We are outa here, folks. See ya later!

1 thought on “People Are Opting Out

  1. Hope you have a good trip. Just getting off campus is a lift! I like to go places on Amtrak. It’s just overnight to Glacier Park; and 3 hours to Portland (with connecting bus to Cannon Beach). Or whatever! Change of scene. 🙂

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