even Tom Hanks
Wednesday, March 11 2020
My boss Alex and I would be driving down to the office of the Town of Ramapo to meet with several other municipal tax professionals today, so I put on some nice clothes and left Ramona at home. At around 9:00am, Alex and I set out in a convoy to the park & ride at the Kingston roundabout (near its Thruway exit), and we carpooled from there in his Toyota Avalon. On the way, we mostly discussed the coronavirus pandemic. He and I both share a similar dry sense of humor, and the tone of our conversation was mostly bemused. Later, though, on our way back from our meeting, he asked me if I had any worries about the pandemic. I said that I wasn't concerned about my own welfare, but I thought there was a potential for chaos and even civil unrest once hospitals resources are exhausted by the massive mountain of cases that now seems inevitable.
The actual meeting took place in a drab windowless room. It was informative, but opened my mind to a whole series of new features I would have to implement. [REDACTED]
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Ramapo office was trying to implement some basic social distancing, with people using tissues to touch doorknobs and that sort of thing. But old habits die hard, and when I was introduced to one of the gentlemen we'd be meeting with, he instinctively shot out his hand, which I then of course shook. Later, though, I greeted another gentleman with an elbow bump, which wasn't as awkward as I expected it to be. Later I was witness to the development of a new protocol for building inspectors and assessors to follow when visiting taxpayers who may or may not be infected with the coronavirus. The new protocol was to keep a generous distance and to never enter anyone's house under any circumstance.
I still have a fairly nasty-sounding cough in the aftermath of my recent illness, and it was a hard thing to suppress during today's meeting. I'd get a tickle in my bronchial tubes and have a strong urge to do something about it. For the most part, I was able to cough with my mouth closed, which made a muffled "clonk!" from my chest. It was the best I could do to keep people from thinking I was infectious, though these sounds probably didn't pass unnoticed.
After our meeting, Alex didn't really know of any particular place to go for lunch, so I suggested we stop at the Plaza Diner in New Paltz for the "best spaghetti marinara in the Hudson Valley." So that was what we did. Alex ordered exactly what I ordered, and we even got a plate of french fries to share "for ultimate carb-loading," though when the waitress came around with the parmesan cheese, Alex allowed her to dump an absurd amount on his spaghetti. Alex agreed the spaghetti was good, though he wasn't sure it was "the best in the Hudson Valley." He gave me his extra spaghetti to take home with my extra spaghetti.
My workday was over well before 3:00pm. When I returned home, I tried to interest the dogs in a walk, but they were pooped from whatever walk Gretchen had taken them on, so I ended up just doing a salvage of some nice dry downed oak from across the Farm Road instead.
When Gretchen came home, she was delighted to see take-away trays obviously containing leftovers of the best spaghetti in the Hudson Valley. She immediately heated the tray Alex had been eating, apparently oblivious to the parmesan cheese that had been generously sprinkled on top of it (though Alex had probably eaten most of that away).
After I'd been sleeping awhile, Gretchen woke me up to announce the news that Tom Hanks and his wife had just tested positive for the coronavirus. She'd been gently mocking me for the past couple of weeks over my coronavirus obsession (which, to her, probably seemed of a piece with my obsessions with, say, Elizabeth Holmes and multi-level marketing), but something about the Tom Hanks news made the pandemic suddenly real and truly ominous for her. "What are we gonna do?" she wondered. Ultimately she had to take a xanax to get to sleep.
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