Look at Dave out there. Dave the garbage man. Dave the essential worker. Remember guys like Dave?
Some people still have signs in their yards: We Dave!
Not so many people think about guys like Dave anymore. We're too busy making more garbage. Our trash bins are overflowing with Amazon scrap. We're too busy pointing fingers to give guys like Dave a hand.
I first said hello to Dave about two years ago, when the coronavirus was first upon us; when we all locked ourselves in our homes scared of an unknown plague.
I noticed from my upstairs window then that Dave and his truckmate were wearing plastic gloves, the thin kind they wear at Chipotle when handling your burrito. The gloves were in tatters, more like toilet paper bits stuck to their hind ends than medical protection for their hands. They also wore no masks because there were no masks available then.
So I gave them some gloves and masks and we took a picture. Dave's ex-wife later sent me a thank you Facebook message. Dave's got kids, you see.
Since then, we've been through half the Greek alphabet with coronavirus variants: the Alpha, the Beta, the Delta. Their lesser known cousins: Gamma, Lambda and Mu. We skipped the letters Nu and Xi. According to the World Health Organization, Nu would be too confusing as it sounds just like the English word “new.” And Xi is a common last name, which may have given offense to the supreme leader of China, Xi Jinping.
So here we are at Omicron. And the Greeks are angry that we don't pronounce it correctly. It seems like everybody is angry about something these days.
The one constant through it all has been good old Dave. If Dave has a fear in the world, he does not show it out there humping overflowing trash cans, discarded couches and abandoned ellipticals.
I don't know if Dave is vaccinated, and I don't really care. It's none of my business. He's out there earning his bread. The Essential Man. As free as one gets anymore. A veritable runner of the woods.
Staring Out the Window
Meanwhile, I'm entombed upstairs, still in my underpants mid-morning, staring out the window at Dave. I'm sick with Covid for a second time in less than a year. (So much for natural immunity.)
In between infections, I got a double shot of Moderna. They tell me the shots may have saved my life. I tell them it wasn't that bad the first time around. Even so, my wife follows me around the house with a can of disinfectant.
I'm so tired of the pandemic I can't sleep. I can't think. I don't bother to shave. I've got Covid fatigue. I'm starting to crumble. I am an emotionless mummy embalmed in cheap Cabernet. I want to make a break for it, but I know I have to stay in quarantine because it's the right thing to do.
What are the latest guidelines now anyway? Five days alone? Ten days? How will I know if I'm still infected? It's so bad -- and the federal government so incompetent -- that two years into the pandemic you have to conduct what amounts to a back alley drug deal just to procure a testing kit.
I read some. I watch TV more. The politicos and epidemiologists and vaccine deniers and hand-washing scolds all blur together in a nutty soup of befuddlement.
Here comes Albert Bourla on my TV, the CEO of Pfizer telling me two shots of his wonder drug aren't enough to fend off the disease, after all. Months ago, he said his vaccine would be 100 percent effective against hospitalizations. One hundred percent! Now he's saying three shots offer “reasonable protection against hospitalizations and deaths.” And then he says he is unsure “if there is a need for a fourth booster.”
Allie B. promises the people (and his investors) that a new Omicron vaccine will be available this spring. But by that time, other experts believe, the virus may have moved on, having mutated into the the Pi variant. Or Rho. Or Sigma – Σ is my favorite symbol in the Greek alphabet. I might get a tattoo if it goes that far.
But who really knows?
Numbers from nowhere
Not some U.S. Supreme Court justices, who heard arguments last week over Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers. Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch asked what's the big deal with Covid, seeing as the common flu kills “hundreds of thousands of people a year”? Actually the flu kills 12,000 to 52,000 a year, according to the CDC. I thought everybody knew that by this point.
Not to be outdone, liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor claimed: “We have over 100,000 children, which we've never had before, in serious condition, and many on ventilators.” Not exactly. The number was more like 3,400 children hospitalized with Covid, but not necessarliy because of Covid, according to federal data.
These justices are supposed to be among our best and brightest. We've entrusted them to ultimately decide if essential workers like Dave get fired if he refuses the vaccine. Or Debbie the nurse. Or Bruno the blackjack dealer. (Gambling may soon be more important than fatherhood in America, if sports radio has any say in things). If Supreme Court justices can't keep Covid data straight, how do they expect the rest of us to?
It's all so confusing. Football stadiums are packed. And still Covid casualty Aaron Rodgers plays like an MVP. Airports were jammed for the holidays. Gas stations have stopped setting out free hand sanitizer. And yet old people are still dying. Has the government yet offered a plan to make nursing homes livable?
I lived through the Alpha and I await the Omega of the pandemic. Until then, Dave, look up. That will be me waving from the upstairs window in my new Amazon bathrobe.
I you man!
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