Sometimes the smallest interactions can have the greatest impact.
I needed to bring something to the dry cleaners the other day. When I went to pick up our item, I made some polite conversation with the really sweet guy in charge of the place. I asked him how business was going. And his answer made me want to cry.
Damage Where You Least Expect It
He told me that the majority of his business came from hotels. In the past, he would be in hotels three times a day. Now he’s barely ever in one at all. Also tourists would come for holidays, get their clothing dry cleaned. Now he has almost no business, and he recently had to let two of his workers go.
The man acted in good spirits, but you can tell he was masking massive pain. And that it was fairly likely his store would not be around for much longer.
And a part of me died hearing all of this.
Suffering in Silence
I don’t think anyone’s naive enough to not know that some people are hurting tremendously from Covid’s impact on the economy. But I think the average person doesn’t see how deep the problem runs. It’s easy to assume that hotels and tour guides are being bashed by the continuous lack of tourism. But who could have imagined a dry cleaners would be suffering this much?
And this all got me thinking about how badly thousands if not millions of people are suffering in silence. I think it will be years before we piece together the extent of the damage caused by 2020 (and beyond).
Those of us who miraculously managed to remain undamaged financially from all this craziness have one thing and one thing alone: Dumb luck. We managed to retain our employment by having a profession that can withstand the current situation or, as in my case, by being in the right place at the right time. But that’s it. We are in no way, shape, or form better than someone who has been out of work for months or even a year now.Those of us who miraculously managed to remain undamaged financially from all this craziness have one thing and one thing alone: Dumb luck. Click To Tweet
Who Gets to Eat, Who Must Starve?
There’s a viral video of a restaurant owner in the States who got a visit from an inspector telling him he needs to shut his place down. The man responded by blocking in the inspector’s car so he couldn’t leave. The inspector emphatically told the owner he needs to move his vehicle so he could leave, as did some police officers. And the restaurant owner just kept on shouting at them that it’s unfair they should be permitted to work while he and his workers’ families starve.
His tactics were outlandish, and I’m not yet sure I agree he approached everything in the best possible manner. But his point is insanely important. The inspector has a job and is earning a regular paycheck because by sheer dumb luck his job is allowed to continue. If he ran a movie theater, he’d be piling on debt right now. Surely no one is suggesting the police stay at home to prevent the spread of an infectious disease… but if they were instead personal trainers, they’d be at home collecting coupons and searching their couches for loose change.
People’s lives are getting ruined every single day. Good people. Hard-working people. Otherwise quite successful people. And most of us just walk on by, without a care in the world. Why? Because our electricity is still running and our children were able to eat breakfast that morning.
And on top of all of this, some are given no alternatives. The restaurant owner was following all the rules. He overturned his business so that customers could dine outside. He was doing everything correctly, to try and keep his staff and customers as safe as he could. His reward? A callous inspector still shuts him down with the wave of a cold, uncaring hand.
Why Not Shut Down Everything?
I’ve had a repeated argument with my son for months now. He doesn’t understand why we can’t just shut everything down, close the airports, and just endure the circumstances until we’ve choked the life out of this thing. It’s not that I don’t see his point. During Israel’s first two lockdowns, there was a clear correlation between the lockdown and a number reduction. But he fails to see two major elements here, which is why despite having an insanely high rate of vaccinations, the third lockdown was an abysmal failure.
Why can’t he see this (besides, of course, being young)? First, his parents are both employed. We’re on that lucky side of the track where we get to eat while others get giddy if the government hands them a paltry check to help out a little. Second, he is a hard-core introvert. For certain, he misses his BJJ classes. But that’s where it ends. He can live a long and happy life with minimal social interaction.
So he doesn’t understand that a full and complete lockdown will cause two extreme results.
Irreparable Damage to the Economy
First, it will cause irreparable damage to the economy. Some businesses have been forced to shut down, despite making countless efforts to do everything to keep people safe, and despite being responsible for a ton of employees and a slew of customers’ well-being and happiness.
But the damage to the individuals might even be worse, and have longer-lasting effects. Maybe everyone in the world needs to feel what it’s like to be broke, to not know how you’ll be able to pay for your next meal. They need to know that things don’t just “get better” the moment you are on your feet again. The suffering and fears continue. Indefinitely. No vaccine or cure can prevent those broken pieces left behind by Covid.
And that leads into the second impact of these lockdowns.
Irreparable Damage to our Souls
They can do untold damage to people psychologically. No one is immune to the effects of the social isolation that has happened to so many of us. Even if you enjoyed staying at home and avoiding social obligations, there is none among us who won’t crack at some point. We all have our minimum threshold. And when we dip beneath it, terrible depression can and will sink in.
Sometime in the future we’re going to start picking up the pieces of what was left behind by this disaster. And yes, we will see millions of lives lost. But with a deeper look, we will see damage that goes way deeper than just a death toll. And we will find out about more lives ruined than we could have ever imagined, in ways that we could not have dreamt up.
It is imperative upon all of us to not just look at the cold, hard facts. To not just look at the statistics. There is so much hurt surrounding us, every single day. Why not reach out to the people around you and see how they’re doing? You never know who in your life could benefit from a few kind words.