In the midst of this supremely wearing pandemic – and just in time for a much-needed boost – the first Sunday in May has fortuitously begun with considerable enthusiasm. There was talk on an American news channel this morning about shopping malls reopening for business. The persuasive economic anxiety underlying this venture does however compete noticeably with the more popular though cautious reluctance of the medical community which continues to urge social distancing to prevent a sudden wave of reinfection. People generally have no way of assessing the plausibility of recovery in any manner or degree, and certainly without the benefit of scientific analysis. Considering nature’s diminishing example of purely visceral instinct from the imperilled bison it is impractical to assume we know better when faced with the possible catastrophe of hurtling over the edge.
If ever there were a day for spontaneity, today was surely it. The blue sky was magical on a bright sunny day with fluffy, white clouds. The wind was strong but oh so uplifting. When driving this afternoon I put down all windows and opened the landau roof. Everything within the car – including me – was buffeted by the shifting forces of wind. Naturally I curiously inspected the shopping mall parking lots I passed along the way. The activity everywhere continues to be slow to emerge. Traffic on the urban arteries was more reflective of everyone having gone to the moon. Those who were driving did so with uncommon serenity, as though there were nowhere to go, nothing to do. Sadly that about captures the current reality. Already there must be those who imagine having money but nowhere to spend it. Travel even across provincial borders is right out. It is impossible to buy a pair of socks. Or to get a hair cut. Museums and movie theatres are right out. If you’re intent upon shopping for more than groceries, the retail giants like Amazon are there to assist with on-line products. The speculation is already mounting that personal shopping in the “bricks and mortar” establishments is a thing of the past. This may be the first time health issues transform the way the retail economy performs – not to mention the questionable concern about the allure of materialism in the face of threatening health.
Faced with the mandate of social distancing, the more tolerable diversions are walking and cycling. The largely inconsequential driving of one’s automobile is nonetheless subject to the suggestion that road traffic threatens accidents and thus jeopardizes the possible availability of paramedics and health care workers. This thesis may derive more strength from social influence than actual threat. So far I haven’t had to endure any insinuation from others concerning my as yet relentless habit of automobile driving. Admittedly I am in a minority – a singularity which only succeeds to enhance my custom since I haven’t annoying traffic to deal with.
Cars may prove to be like sugar – that is, best taken in small doses. Unharmed as I am by anything which might compete with my daily driving ambitions, I confess to having already closely exhausted whatever mechanical preoccupations prevail. This even so when including a new vehicle in the mix. My technical prowess in the context of a motor vehicle is almost entirely cosmetic. Today for example I amused myself at some length merely to contemplate the proper functioning of the many settings on the dashboard. A poetic leap to the consideration of a truly mechanical necessity quickly reminds me that my absorption in matters vehicular is strictly that of an uninitiated party.