Tuesday, April 14, 2020

High Wire Act

After Hurricane Irma raked the Keys with 140 mph winds we the survivors wandered around slightly dazed picking up the pieces, and there were a great many pieces.  By the time our absent neighbors got back with supplies and a fresh helping of determination they brought with them the trappings of an advertising campaign: "Keys Strong!" they posted everywhere. It has I find, become a commonplace by now. Pink underwear notwithstanding.
I have met Doug the past couple of times I have been wandering Key West in the early hours and we exchange thoughts, he holding Teeki and I watching Rusty who is smaller than that burly Husky and therefore keeps my  formerly stray dog in a state of fear filled uncertainty. While the dogs eye each other Doug and I commiserate. I think I can safely say we are both glad to be here but both of us wouldn't mind a return to normal. Doug is much more outgoing than am I and misses his  sessions in public spaces, but we both find ourselves slightly unnerved walking around a town completely devoid of humans. 
The exercisers come out with the sun, the dog walkers the joggers the cyclists but there is no difficulty at all in sidestepping each other. Taking a turn past the Old Town Fire Station on Simonton the firefighters continue to do their chores and keep their equipment at the ready. The fire department also runs the ambulances so they have double duty. 
I am technically a First Responder but happily I don't touch people in the dispatch office, though because we take the calls we have to deal at some minor level with every single incident. The call volume is much lower than normal but the calls are much more clearly divided these days between pleas for information and serious calls for help. Parking has pretty much shut down and the sole parking control officer on patrol each day is checking for hazards and blocked driveways as the meters are off and residential parking spaces are not being enforced. Oddly enough one of the administrative calls that we are dispatching several times a day are Vehicle Identification Number checks. An officer is sent to confirm the vehicle is as described in the ownership transfer papers and with the officer's signature the owner of the vehicle can get fresh registration papers. Typically this is done for purchase or a state transfer.
We had a discussion about why so many right now and on the one hand the thought was that people need money and are selling cars to raise cash. The other idea was that procrastinators haven't bothered to change their license plates on their cars when they arrived from out of Florida and that laziness is catching up to them. Another of the less desirable attributes of the coronavirus  is its ability to bring out the worst in people and rumors abound of  cars with out of state tags getting yelled at to go home.
I haven't seen any of that or heard of any such incidents first hand but in Key West it seems more than usually stupid to fuss about tags on cars. There are thousands of military personnel stationed here who drive private vehicles with home state license plates obviously, plus there are people here quite legally who own second homes and drive out of state registered cars. They too are allowed past the checkpoints set up at the county line. I know the city is taking a very hard line with anyone who cares to offer a vacation rental right now and the hotels are all closed tight, so getting worked up about out of state tags is a wild goose chase best left, as usual, to rumor mongering Facebook drama warriors.
The word filtering through the news is that the people in charge are trying to figure out how to reopen the country for business. Oddly enough it doesn't seem to be clear who exactly gets to make that decision, with the President mulling over how fast he can do it and the state governors wondering what their best moves will be individually. The whole proposition seems ridiculous to me but there again it seems to me we the people have done a better job of making the decision to self isolate than our leaders have done in telling us what to do. 
As usual there is no testing and no knowledge which means we are left with wild speculation as to what is really going on with the virus here. Open everything up and the virus comes back they say. Keep everything closed down and no one has any work. What a bizarre dilemma. Glad I get to sit on the sidelines and watch the decision making process from those who thought being in charge was a good idea and so they ran for office.  That was before the coronavirus was on the horizon. Now they have to decide how to cope and we get to watch which seems more creepy than usual. 
And so it goes, nothing changes,  some few work, others don't, some don't need to... My wife is teaching from home which it turns out is incredibly hard work. I work my usual day shift schedule with spray in hand and my temperature taken at the start of each shift. So far so good.  What else is there to say or to hope for? So far so good. Call it Keys Strong if you feel like tempting fate but things feel a good deal too tentative to describe anything as strong at the moment.
Like the phantom "workers overhead" we trip the light fantastic on a very thin high wire for the time being.