The Days of Wine and COVID, Part I: Black Friday

Back on April 4, I was walking along the side of the house and came across a patch of clovers. Keep in mind I’ve walked past these things many times in the past and never gave them much thought but that day I decided to go looking for a little luck.

And I found it.

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Count ’em. This isn’t a four-leaf clover, no. Look closer and you’ll see that there’s a fifth leaf on the other side. They say that the fifth leaf is supposed to represent money and extra luck. Little did I know that over a week later, I’d really need it.

Up to this point, because of all the coronavirus madness, I had been working from home since the middle of March and we had gotten a few emails from the company President explaining what the next moves were going to be. Nothing too drastic – until one stated that layoffs and furloughs were coming. The only thing I could think of was great, here we go again.

I had been laid off from several jobs in the past and figured this would just be another notch on my résumé. But being we had gotten our stimulus money a week prior, I figured we’d be okay for little bit while unemployment kicked in. We had it all planned and were ready.

And on Friday, April 10, it happened – but not to me. Several people were let go but not entirely because of COVID-19. We lost a big client due to a really stupid business decision on their part so people who were a part of that team were transitioned to other teams while some people on other teams were let go entirely. But some of the blame most definitely falls on COVID-19 as markets around the world try to rebound from this economic crisis.

We lost a person in our department who accepted the company’s offer for a retirement package. While we all thanked him via email and Slack messages, it sucks that we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye in person. I wish him the best in his retirement.

The rest of us are still hanging in there as we continue to plug along in this strange new working world, strange to me at least.

I was never ready for this to happen and hadn’t made room for or given much thought to where my work computer would go. In the end, I put it on my old drawing table in front of my personal computer which, as you probably know, doesn’t get much use these days because it sucks.

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This is my workspace (the calendar on the screen covers up the company name). I’m pretty much crammed in the corner of the den but I’m making it work. And yes, it’s dark and those are the only lights I have on most of the time while I work but I turn on another lamp occasionally in case my eyes start to feel strained.

For now, the stimulus money sits in the bank untouched and although you can’t see it, the five-leaf clover rests under the monitor in a Ziploc bag because it worked for me the first time.

Let’s hope it continues to do the trick.

Next episode: The Days of Wine and COVID, Part II: Working from Home

 

The New Reality

Every night at 9:30, I would hear the distant rumble of Disneyland fireworks. They have been silenced indefinitely.

When I worked in a grocery store years ago, the job was for all intents and purposes unskilled grunt work that few people respected. It’s now considered “essential” and the workers “on the front lines.”

I used to ride the bus to the office. I’m now working from home until further notice as is my wife.

The kid is out of school indefinitely and his 16th birthday will be “celebrated” with only us.

Things have changed. This is the new reality.

As COVID-19 or coronavirus continues to weave its way into every aspect of our lives and until it is contained or a vaccine is discovered, this is how things will be.

Currently for us in California, pretty much everything but what the governor has deemed “essential” is closed. Beaches, their paths, parks, just about anyplace where people would normally congregate. Salons and barbers as well, meaning lots of bad dye jobs and haircuts.

Exercise is still permitted provided you comply with the mandated social distancing norms: 6 feet of space, no contact with others, etc. I’ve been mindful of these on my walks and bike rides and practically decontaminate myself afterward. With two asthmatics in the house, I must be cautious.

Other than that, and the occasional trip to the store, that’s all I do. The family even less.

Being on lockdown, quarantine, whatever you want to call it is indeed boring but a precaution to prevent the spread of the virus. And oh yeah, washing your damn hands.

So how are we holding up?

Eh, it’s rolling with the punches just like everything else with the notable exception of calling our parents more frequently to check on them, even if they are a bike ride away. It’s also given us more time to do things we’ve been putting off like cleaning the backyard or even just being together — even blogging. Kinda makes you appreciate what you have even more.

And I think that’s evident with the number of individuals and families we see every day either walking, running, riding their bikes. People are getting cabin fever and need to get out, and it’s nice to see them smiling despite the gloom being reported daily.

To that end, I think the media should mention recoveries, severity of conditions, and underlying health problems rather than overall case numbers and deaths, which will unfortunately rise. This site puts all of those into perspective. If you didn’t have time to click the link and read it (but I think you do and did), you’ll see that the total number of cases includes active and closed cases. Of the active cases, 95% are considered mild while the closed cases had an 82% recovery rate (numbers accurate as of this post).

I’m by no means saying to ignore the deaths because that would be an awful thing to say, and my heart goes out to all families and friends who have been personally affected by this. But what I am saying is that the media has the power to influence, as was the case with people panic-buying toilet paper for whatever reason when the news of this virus broke.

That’s why I believe it’s just as important to mention recoveries as part of their daily reports as it would offer a glimmer of hope in what’s become an otherwise somber moment in history.

But hey, that’s just me.

Look, we’ve personally been down strange and scary roads before. We’ve looked death in the face with my wife’s kidney cancer diagnosis and handled it the only way we knew how: by not letting it get the best of any of us and strengthening our family ties. Positivity goes a long way when the odds are against you or even when the future is uncertain.

This virus, however, can be avoided for the most part by simply washing your hands, avoiding touching your face and someone who was the disease. That’s it. In fact here’s a video of a conference call that should put your mind at ease.

It will take some time for us to get back to the way things used to be. But until then, we have to be vigilant and keep practicing the things discussed in the video.

So be smart, be vigilant, be well.

And stay home.

Romantic Comedies

Holy mother of effs, I’m getting old(er).

The family — I refuse to use the currently popular and obnoxious term “fam” — was out decorating for Christmas Saturday night, mostly concentrating on the positioning of our new laser light display.

We’ve been looking at them for some time now and found them on sale at OSH so we caved. And for $20 I have to admit they are pretty spectacular.

The colors, man! The colors! Plus we’re feeling exceptionally lazy this year so we’re only putting this up with a few strings of lights. Humbug!

While all of this was going on, our beloved neighbor* was in his frontyard listening to some music through his Bluetooth speaker. I didn’t really notice it until Ann said something.

Ann: The jackass** is listening to that Sam Smith chick-flick crap that you’d hear in those romcoms.

A beat. I heard what she said loud and clear, but I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant by the last word.

Me: What?

Ann: He’s listening to crap you’d hear in a romcom.

There it was again.

Me: (looking bewildered) Uh, say that again?

Ann: What, romcom?

At this point, if this were a phone conversation using a wired GTE Phone Mart landline, I would have tapped it several times on the nearest hard object to make sure I was hearing things correctly then continued.

Me: Yes.

Ann: A romcom? Romantic comedy?

Me: Is that what it means?

Ann: Yeah, I heard it on the radio the morning.

Keep in mind I don’t listen to morning radio — I’m a Spotify guy and hate blithering morning jocks trying to elicit a laugh at any cost. I’m not entirely surprised they’d use such a stupid term.

Me: Oh okay. Well, don’t ever say that around me again.

Ann: What, romcom?

Me: (shuddering) Yes.

Deal.

Here we are taking a break from the decorating in Season 24 of our own little romc…uh, romantic comedy. Hats off to the kid, now taller than Ann and almost eye level with me, for taking this picture.

You all decorated yet?

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Footnotes:

*Sarcasm **Absolute truth

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Composed on an iPhone 7 Plus app using the WordPress app because I’m feeling exceptionally lazy tonight.

Manic Monday

Monday night was crazy.

Earlier in the day, Ann had sent me a picture of my wonderful neighbor — you already know I’m being fatuous — standing in the street next to his car. That is, his damaged car.

Turns out that another resident on our street came flying around the corner at their usual high rate of speed, lost control, and wiped out my neighbor’s car. They flipped their car twice after impact which shows you how ridiculously fast they were going, with a child in the back seat. All are fine and I’m sorry that kid has a mother that doesn’t take his safety into consideration when she gets behind the wheel. They are known for speeding on our street all the time.

Ann told me the sound of the accident was horrible as they usually are but being close to the scene made it sound worse. She was a bit shaken up by it all and I can’t say I blame her. Accidents are truly scary to hear, scarier to see, and even more scary to be in.

That’s when I enter the picture, about 7 miles away.

I was making my way home as usual, taking the same streets as I always do. Just another ho-hum ride home for me.

Then it happened.

Just as I passed an intersection, a car made a right turn into my lane on their red light. Contact was made and the impact threw my scooter out of control. Yes, I was on my scooter.

I went sideways for a moment before finally losing control and falling to the ground, rolling in the street maybe about four times at around 35 MPH. My helmet made contact with the asphalt and got scraped up pretty bad. The impact on the asphalt jammed my scooter’s center stand into the body and it is no longer usable. All of this happened within seconds.

And all I was thinking while I was rolling was “Hang on…hang on…just hang on…don’t let go.” The adrenaline was pumping anyhow and that’s probably what kept me going. The worst thing I could have done was panicked — and I didn’t. Macho man.

Once I stopped rolling and dusted myself off, then having a few choice words with the driver who hit me, I texted Ann the following: “I got hit. I’m fine. Exchanging information.” But with all the chaos happening outside our own house, she left her phone in the kitchen and didn’t get the message until much later.

Daylight was quickly fading into night.

In the midst of all of this, between police questioning and fire trucks and ambulances, I finally got a call from her to make sure I was okay. I assured her I was. Then I got one from Anthony and it was something I never want to hear again. He was absolutely hysterical but again, I was fine and I calmed him down.

My bodily damage? Minimal. I have a few spots of road rash on my left leg (DON’T EVER Google that if you’re not ready for it) and not much else. Thankfully, nothing is broken and I didn’t suffer a concussion with my head hitting the ground. The police made their report, the paramedics checked me out, and I refused to go to the hospital as I felt good enough to ride home, which is exactly what I did.

There are more details but that’s all I’m divulging. I don’t pay my insurance for nothing.

Since I started riding, I’ve always worn a video camera of some kind on my helmet. Not because I was doing stupid tricks to share on YouTube but for the one time I may need it. Plus it keeps my own self honest. And after two years of riding, I thought I was about as safe as they get: lane-splitting only at red lights, avoiding any kind of trouble, etc. I’d never had an accident; just a few close calls that were wiped clean from the memory card of my GoPro. Of course, I keep the clips of interesting things I’ve witnessed on the road.

The camera itself was an investment and a form of insurance provided anything ever happened. And so far I was certain that I’d never need any footage recorded with it.

That was until Monday night. The point of impact, me rolling several times in the street, my feet flying up in the air, my brand new Vans shoes being ruined.  It’s all on there and…well, remember what I said earlier about being in an accident? Try having yours recorded. It really makes you sit back and think.

But perhaps the most gut-wrenching feeling I had was when Anthony called me, crying like never before. There I was with flashing lights all around me trying to reassure him that everything was going to be okay. Easy for me to say.

But I’d heard that cry in the past, and it was from me in 1976 when Mom got the call that Dad had passed away at the hospital. It absolutely tore me up.

And that was it. That ride home on my scooter would be my last.

I took Tuesday off so that I could take care of business. First, I submitted my insurance claim to see if it would cover any damage to my scooter. As of this post, the other guy has yet to contact their insurance or make a claim. I get the feeling they won’t, but that’s when the GoPro footage will come in handy. My company already has a copy of it and all they have to do is send it over to the other insurance company.

Second, I cancelled the insurance on the motorcycle and it’s going to sit in the garage until I can find a buyer. Yes, I’m getting rid of it. I do, however, plan to keep the scooter only because I’m so deep into it with the credit card that was used to pay for it. I won’t get much for it anyhow, and even less now that it’s been in an accident. I don’t know the extent of any damage to the body of my scooter so I’ll have to have it checked.

Third, I went out and got myself a car. I wasn’t kidding when I said I was done riding. It’s a 2015 Nissan Versa Note and I have to admit that since Nissan pays me (although I don’t work for them directly), there’s a sense of pride being behind the wheel of their product. I already know everything about it and I just got it.

Granted the payments aren’t exactly what we negotiated but it’s a small price to pay for my own safety. There’s no doubt I’ll miss riding and all that goes with it, but when I got the scooter it was meant to be a temporary fix until we could find another solution. And it worked, until Monday night.

And I’m willing to hang it up and put all of it behind me.


Because I’m not putting my family through this kind of misery ever again.

Composed with the WordPress iOS app

40

Top: Dad with my brother at Knott’s Berry Farm, 1968. I was still in the oven.

Bottom: me at Knott’s Berry Farm in 2016 with these same ladies.

Today is the 40th anniversary of Dad’s passing. There’s only so many words that can be said, only so many photos that can be posted. But there never seems to be an end to the number of tears I can shed.

I had a hard time dealing with it this year, probably because it was such a monumental anniversary and in two more years, Dad will have been gone exactly the same time he was here: 42 years.

And every year on this date I go through a range of mixed emotions.

It’s not fair. It never was. But that’s okay. No, it really isn’t. I’m being selfish. Time to let it go and move on. So I will. But I won’t.

I hardly spoke a word at the office today and just threw myself into that endless pile of Excel files that need to be edited, cross-referenced for content, etc.  It made the day go faster and kept my mind off of things.

I goofed around with my kid outside for a little bit before the mosquitos started to bite us. Anything to keep my mind going.

And now, aside from blogging, I’m watching the Dodger game. When that’s done I’ll throw myself into something else, maybe play some Xbox one or study one of the languages I’m trying to learn.

Or maybe I’ll just go to bed.

But in any case, I’ll most likely find myself shedding at least one more tear for the man who was loved by all who knew him.

Thank you and goodnight, Dad. I miss you.