“I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.”
I, like I imagine most of the rest of the world, have been watching closely as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on our world. Over the last several weeks, I’ve been skeptical and scared and confused and frustrated and amused and hopeful and curious….all of the feelings.
My stomach has been in knots and my anxiety has been on full alert and I’ve imagined men in black and conspiracies and government “doctors” and secret quarantines and people disappearing without a trace and Putin as Voldemort….I don’t know, I feel like it’s totally plausible.
I’ve found myself diving down rabbit holes created by various media reports, social media posts (shamefully) and our current administration and the governments of other countries.
And no, I don’t really believe in all the places my brain has taken me. I think it’s just my minds way of trying to understand and explain this series of events for which we have no prior experience.
At times, I’ve felt as though this really can’t possibly be happening. It seems so surreal; like a movie. Only, it’s not exactly the way I imagined an apocalypse of sorts would go down. Am I really being told to just, like, Netflix and chill for the foreseeable future? I had always imagined there would be a lot less electricity and a lot more Spam. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer weren’t the commodities I thought we’d all be hoarding….but alas, here we are. To be clear, however, this is apocalypse enough for me. I’m not complaining.
And while I may be losing my shit a bit, I am trying really hard not to be an asshole about it. I am not among those with a six-year supply of toilet paper and a lifetime, plus twenty years worth, of hand sanitizer.
A few weeks ago, when things started to get weird, I took inventory of our supplies like dry goods, the food in our freezer and yes, of course, our TP situation, and then made my way to the store to purchase what I thought would be necessary to carry my family through the early days of a quarantine, assuming that, along the way, I would be able to continue to have some degree of access to these items; through online ordering, or perhaps, authority controlled trips to the grocery store. I did not, however, bargain for the Matt and Noah Colvin’s of the world.
A few days ago, I was scrolling through the news and I came across an article published by the New York Times about a guy with 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer and “nowhere to sell them.”
The image accompanying the article was of Matt Colvin, an Amazon merchant, wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words “Family Man, Family Business,” looking downtrodden as he stood among his hoard of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes.
According to the article, the day after the first U.S. death connected with the COVID-19 virus was announced, Family Man, Matt and his brother, Noah, set off in an SUV and commenced clearing the shelves of hand sanitizer from Walmart, Dollar Tree, Home Depot and Staples in Chattanooga, TN.
Then, over the next three days, brother Noah Colvin embarked on a 1300 mile road trip throughout Tennessee and into Kentucky, filling up a U-Haul truck with thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and antibacterial cleansing wipes he purchased from any retailer he could find with stock to sell.
Meanwhile, Family Man Matt stayed home, preparing for the arrival of pallets of even more sanitizer and wipes he’d ordered online, while also getting to work listing the bounty on Amazon. According to Family Man, Matt, he listed 300 bottles of sanitizer that quickly sold for between $8 and $70 each; “crazy money.”
But then, the next day, Amazon pulled his items, along with thousands of other listings from other Amazon merchants who were also selling sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and face masks at huge mark-ups’s leaving poor Family Man, Matt with a boat-load of much needed resources and seemingly no solution to be thunk up.
He was quoted as saying, “It’s been a huge amount of whiplash. From being in a situation where what I’ve got coming and going could potentially put my family in a really good place financially to ‘What the heck am I going to do with all of this?’”
I read that and thought, Um, how about you and your douche-bag brother start returning it all to the stores you wiped out so that your neighbors, the parents of your children’s friends, their teachers, nursing home staff, your local medical providers and the emergency medical personnel within that 1300 mile radius you two morally bankrupt scumbags pillaged, can access those much needed supplies?
To be fair, Amazon and other retailers also increased their own prices on supplies in the wake of the pandemic….(REALLY Jeff Bezos….REALLY?)….though not to the same extent.
Still, according to the article, it wasn’t until consumers and regulators applied pressure that any of these companies chose to crack down on the way their merchants were capitalizing on the fear and desperation of people DURING A FUCKING INTERNATIONAL PANDEMIC. In fact, until then, businesses like Amazon and Ebay profited from their merchants behavior via the percentages they took from those sales.
Moving forward, I will wipe my ass with my own hand before I order a thing from Amazon.
Shortly after the article was published, Matt Colvin “donated” his stockpile of supplies as the attorney general’s office in Tennessee began investigating him for price gouging. The national backlash the Colvin’s apparently received from the public was swift and incredibly harsh. While I don’t believe the death threats were appropriate, he’s otherwise getting what he deserves.
Sadly, Family Man, Matt isn’t the only one out there hoarding supplies and trying to profit off the suffering of others, he was just the only one dumb enough to be the spokesperson for the Scrooge McJerk-Off Union.
But, casting aside the trash, I believe that in the midst of all of this, there is an opportunity for greatness. In gestures both large and small, we all have the chance to be a beacon of light in all this dark.
Lean into your communities. Support your local small businesses as best you can. These are often the businesses that sponsor your kids little league teams and donate to a wide variety of fundraisers benefiting your schools and the community as a whole. If you can’t afford to spend any money at the moment, you can still show some love by promoting them across your social media.
Stay engaged in productive conversations with your neighbors on your community social media pages. I know these groups often come with a few curmudgeons, trolls and self-righteous know-it-alls, BUT, if you can weed through the BS there is a lot of good to be found, including a wide range of opportunities to be of service to people and groups in need.
Start a donation pile. That closet, garage, play room, etc., you keep saying you want to purge and organize, here’s your chance. Toys and games that you no longer need, could be a welcomed gift for another family in your community right now.
If you have too much, give it back. Take it back to the stores directly, or make care packages for your neighbors, in particular, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Or, donate extra supplies to the agencies in your area that are in desperate need. Especially medical supplies like masks and latex gloves. We can’t afford to lose our health care professionals to this illness, but we will if they can’t do their jobs safely.
I recently read that many health care professionals are reusing personal protective equipment they would have discarded between patients, but at this point, it’s reuse it, or go in with nothing. WTF, America, that can’t be the solution.
Unless you have a legitimate reason for needing a stockpile of masks and those 4,000 pairs of latex gloves in all the sizes (and BTW fear is not a legitimate reason) you have no business hoarding them….doing so is, quite literally, killing the team.
Be the good. There are so many ways to do good things in this world that won’t cost you anything but a little bit of your time. And right now, time is pretty much all we’ve got.
Do something that makes another human smile, or laugh, or leaves the earth a little bit better than you found it.
Write a letter to a grandparent, a friend….not an email, an actual letter.
Leave a book review for an author you love, or a local small business.
Go to a local park, or a hiking trail and pick up the trash.
Pray….to whoever, or whatever you believe in. I happen to think it helps, but regardless, it certainly can’t hurt.
Share your talents. If you’re a writer, write. If you’re a musician, play. Sing, draw, paint. You don’t have to be famous to create and share content.
Let your significant other breakdown. Let your kids breakdown. Let yourself breakdown. Let it be and then let it pass.
Say thank you! There are so many people working tirelessly to treat patients, gather supplies for those in need and keep our stores as stocked as possible. They too have the well-being of themselves and their own loved ones to think about.
My dad works for a truck-stop chain as a shop manager. His role is considered essential because of the fueling needs and tractor-trailer repairs that are necessary for truck drivers to keep goods moving throughout our county. My dad’s in his 60’s now and he’s had a number of health complications over the years, including serious cardiac related issues. He’s among those most at risk for developing serious/fatal complications should he contract COVID-19, but right now, he’s “healthy,” so off to work he goes.
Acknowledge these folks. The work they are doing is very much holding our communities and country together at the moment.
And if nothing else, just simply do whatever is being asked of you by the authorities and experts who are desperately trying to get us back to some semblance of normalcy.
Find the Good. Every day my 8yo sits down at the computer to doodle with Mo Willems. If you’ve never heard of him, he is, among other things, an award winning and best-selling, children’s book author.
For 30 minutes each day, Mr. Willems talks and draws with the kids who are watching. He gently guides them through the days doodle, while sharing information about his characters and his career as a writer and illustrator. At the end of each session, he reads and answers questions that kids send in via email.
For my son, this has been THE COOLEST. For as long as he’s been able to articulate the desire, my son has talked of being a writer. He has dozens of notebooks in which he’s written out short stories with illustrations. He loves to read and for him, he is in awe of his favorite authors in the way other kids might be in awe of professional athletes, musicians, actors.
My son looks forward to his 30 minutes with Mo every day. His face lights up and he carefully follows along and then proudly shows me his work and tells me all the things he learned during the session. “Did you know that Mo worked on Sesame Street?” “Did you know he made up stories when he was a little kid, just like I do?”
It’s an incredible gift Mo Willems is giving, really. He certainly doesn’t have to, but he’s showing up. He’s one of the lights.
And there are more!
Museums and Zoos are offering virtual tours of their exhibits. Actors and teachers and writers and musicians are reading stories for kids online. Chefs are hosting online cooking classes. Trainers and gyms are offering online workouts. Musicians are live streaming “concerts” from their homes.
And yes, I know, these things aren’t available to all. They require the luxury of a computer, or a tablet or a cell phone. You need internet, or a cellular connection and not everyone has the privilege of having those things.
Share the Good. If you are among those able to continue working from home, if you aren’t facing a disruption in your pay and if you have a little to give, then find an organization that is helping to ease the hardships others are facing and make a donation. There is no such thing as too small a financial gift.
Show up in whatever way you can.
We belong to each other.
Let’s be hero’s. ♥