The Benefits of Coronavirus – a short story

מובחרordinary-people

On a day like any other.

I'll take the dogs out for a walk. I'll get back home and give them their food, get

ready for the rest of the day, you know?

I'll take a shower, get dressed and put on the mask and gloves before going

out.

I'll look in the mirror before stepping out.

Nothing memorable, not with the mask on anyways.

It will be a bit warm outside, now being summer.

The mask is a bit uncomfortable, but at least it keeps people from staring.

I don’t think about being jumped by police or paying a fine for spreading diseases. At least if I'm a hypocrite for wearing it, so is everybody else.

I need money so I go into the bank. It's a bit crowded since they reopened just now. Even outside there is a small line, with everyone dutifully awaiting to get their temperature checked.

All are masked, anxious, yet docile and seem tired and indifferent. The masks equalize and us them faceless. The new uniform of the masses.

I await in line until I scram forth to reach the guard. He checks my temperature with an infrared thermometer. It takes just a second and he lets me through. I catch the smiling wrinkles around his eyes. We are co-conspirators in this charade.

It's always the busiest just before the weekend, when people are in a hurry to deposit their weekly salaries. There are five tellers all at it, with people more silent than usual, hoping to get it over with and maybe getting to rid themselves of the masks as soon as possible.

A few people in front of me, I scour the place. All are masked. Some clenching pieces of paper, most lean over to stare at their phone, as if their eyes are ready to dive into a deep pool. Every so often the number counter would change with a 'ting', causing several heads to lift, and then let out a sigh muffled by the mask, and the head would return to its previous downward slant right back into their phones.

I reached into my pocket to feel for the piece of paper which was my own to display that day. It was resting there, sure enough.

Several people were on the phone speaking a bit loudly. I stood there listening to them describing their most private affairs with the greatest of ease, as if they were entertaining a friend in their home. I could scarcely recall a time when such a thing was considered as rude, or even strange, behavior. The fact that you are able to do something doesn’t mean that you should do it, should you? I felt like I wasn't alone thinking this, but that everyone else were in silent agreement, staring into their phones, thinking they are able to use them as distraction, and so they should do it.

The line of people grows shorter. The bank had conveniently made people wait in a single line that split off when you got to the end into whichever teller in one of the five stations was ready to help you. A nice way of moving the line quickly and having it all done with in a hurry.

I dislike being hurried most of the times, but here it seemed like a relief in a way. I even didn’t care for the line being long. What usually was tedious though, was thinking which teller would you get and how cranky, or unprofessional they struck you. With masks on they all seemed perfectly similar in their indifference. All equally unconcerned with your business and all likewise less prone to pass judgment.

I was now first in line and it seemed like it would come down to either a young brunette teller, which was finishing up with an overweight couple, whose sweaty t-shirts and pink puffed necks she was probably eager to let go; and an equally young oriental gentleman who was assisting an elderly woman. For the last minute or so, he was no longer looking into his computer monitor, and stared straight at the old lady, who was perhaps done with her transactions but didn't seem to internalize the reality of that fact.

The couple slowly palmed a stash of bills which the brunette had laid in front of them, and commenced a triumphant exit, as if headed to celebrate with some food. I waited for the teller to look at me so to not barge in, as some people rudely do.

She took a few seconds to search for my eyes in the line, and gave a bewildered stare. I figured most people probably just go ahead and enter her line of sight without being called, like a conveyor belt of characters, just stepping into a slot. And now I was the odd one out for not applying this norm. I hurried to take my piece of paper out of my pocket so to not waste any time.

The teller's eyes glazed over me as I stood there. I slipped to paper underneath the glassy screen and allowed her to read it. She took a few seconds and then looked at me, as if searching for something in my eyes.

She was nice looking, or at least the top half of her face was, which was not hidden behind a piece of cloth. It took her another minute to count the money and put on the counter. She also handed  me back my note.

Her eyes were now looking straight at me, a look I became used to receiving, a kind of alertness mixed with contempt. I had almost grown fond of it by now.

I thanked her and said "have a nice day", which, while utterly banal as a saying, still feels like a common courtesy to me, which is why I don’t hesitate to use it whenever I bid goodbye to someone who is doing any service for me.

I went out of the bank and walked steadily home, making sure to pass through a few of the more busy streets, just in case I was being followed. I passed through the square, where the police had camped out to discourage people from walking about without a mask. I strutted besides them as if showcasing how good of a citizen I am to be wearing both a mask and a pair of gloves.

mask-and-gloves

I got back home and counted the money I got. Then, I wrapped it again and went over to the bedroom and opened the closet. "Safe within a safe" I muttered, and threw it in with the rest of the week's profits.

I took out the crumpled piece of paper from my right jacket pocket. I've written it with a black marker on top of a piece of some legal notices I picked off of the ground. Nothing flashy, but looks strikingly similar to your everyday bullshit bank notice. On top of it I had scribbled this lovely message:

"Please remain quiet. I have a gun and this is a robbery.

Put all the MONEY in your register into this bag – NOW

Do not call the police – or I will shoot"

I didn’t think much of it, except that I wanted something to get the tellers to do what I want without time to think. What got me thinking how easy it could be was watching everybody wearing masks and not looking at what anyone else was doing. It's as if people willfully became deaf, blind and dumb. And so I would be dumb to not use it to my advantage.

I needed the money, who the hell doesn't. And this was perfect. Nobody suspected a thing, not with my mask and gloves, which made sure I left no fingerprints there. I couldn’t be identified anywhere, not by anyone watching the surveillance footage, not by people on the street, and not by the teller herself. With everyone wearing masks now, I was free to walk unnoticed, a loose criminal in the disguise of an every-man.

T & J, or Porch Thoughts

T: "There's nothing sadder than a spiteful old-person."

J: "That's that fear of death."

 

Much like an old man who grows vengeful at society for carrying on without him, ideologies are bred by thinking you cannot die or cease to exist.

You wish to exclude and push away at the foreign elements surrounding you, thinking the world is meant to remain as you desire it for yourself and for your children. You refuse to believe that things might be different than they are.

That reminded me of my cousin asking me years back what, to my views, was the one 'problem in the world' – to which I answered 'fear'. He agreed and said he believed it was indeed a fear – "a fear of change". I was younger and did not fully realize the extent in reality of his statement.

RWS_Tarot_13_Death
defined as "a change of thinking from an old way into "a new way

This reminds me of Doug Stanhope, saying that people ranting about how fun it was when they were young – saying, it's not that that period was fun – youth is fun.

Acknowledging your death and demise relieves the tension of maintaining "control" over your surroundings.

Things just change.

On Gender-Identity

Listening to too much American podcasts makes it impossible to escape the recent debate surrounding gender-identities, and the use of gender-pronouns in particular. The claim that gender is not a binary construct boils down, in my view, to a definition of gender.

This issue has more to do with linguistics than it does with ideals. Since, the definition of 'gender' is: "the state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones)". The term 'gender', then, disregards the biological, and indeed the binary, categorizing of men and women into two sexes. In so doing, it presupposes that a gender is a cultural construct – and can be formed as fluidly as one's personal identity.

Watching Bill Burr being interviewed on the "Your Momma's House" podcast. At the 55:00 minute mark, the hosts ask (perhaps glibly, although I don't think so) Burr, if he is "raising [his] child by the gender binary" ( https://youtu.be/tcC4ZeABv7I?t=3353 ). The talk continues when the hosts ask Burr if he will "raise his child to be a girl", to which he very aptly responds, "what are you talking about, my kid's a girl". I see this exchange as a depiction of the two conflicting voices on the matter nowadays.

I think it's clear that what is disconnected here is the clear idea of what a sex is an what gender is. A person's sex, as opposed to their gender, is assigned to them by their chromosomal makeup. This is unchangeable. A gender, as defined in the dictionary, can be seen as a person's cultural affiliation to a certain set of convictions of character, some of which are related to their sexual orientation. But, here is when one side (the hosts' side) of the argument gets it wrong in my opinion- They are conflating and jumbling together ideas of a person's 'sex' and their 'identity'. To prove this, many use the term "sexual identity". This notion assumes that there is in fact a set of character traits that a are brought on by being born to a certain sex. That is – when someone says "you are acting like a girl" they mean, being weak, feminine, winy, etc. Or "she's one of the boys" about a girl would dictate that she is the opposite of that, and would rather "work on carburetors" and play soccer, as Burr suggests. This reveals the underlying shortcomings of thought from the gender-pronouns movement. They are in fact the ones adhering more than anyone else to dated concepts of what it is like to act like a girl or a boy. Instead of accepting that a person's identity has nothing to do with their sexual basis, they would rather generate an eschewed and superseded discussion regarding "gender" – a mere cultural definition – and claim it to have prevalence over a biological sex.

I do not know how many of the people who adhere to the use of new gender pronouns are in fact being naive, and how many of them, as I suppose several radical factions of the feminist, trans and other movement are engaging in the debate out of dishonesty. I claim that this use ranges between metal sluggishness to dis-ingeniousness. On the hosts' side, I believe the former is the case. This illustarte the case of how the intellectual elite can once again, through spreading panic (in this case of messing up your child), can stupefy the general public into misinterpreting reality and acting in a reckless way, which they otherwise would never do.

The gender-pronoun movement is also very lazy in hiding its own ulterior motives and hypocrisies. Since, in most western cultures (and indded on those in which the debate takes place) one is intitled use any gender pronoun they would like for themselves, wear whatever colors of fashions they would like, and perform sex change operations to their heart's desire. Indeed, they can be as gender-fluid as they like. But asking others to be non-fluid in their relation to them, in calling them by a specifically assigned word, is hypocritical and dishonest to themselves.

To summarize, the gender-pronouns movement is wrong based on at least two grounds. First, it conflates the ideas of identity, which can be socially altered and chosen, with a given, unchangeable sexual makeup. By wishing to change a person's gender, its proponents constantly self parody their very idea by actually assuming that for each of the biological sexes there is a set of defining character and behavioral traits. Second, by the active appealing to others to engage them by their new assumed identities (asking people to call them by their newly taken gender pronouns), the proponents of the gender-pronoun movement are incredulously ordering others to become non-fluid in their own perceptions of gender. In thus doing, they are performing the ultimate act of self-indulgence, which is, being superior to others (hence, why people like Jordan Peterson refer to them correctly as "fascist").

The movement, in my view only illustrates how lost and out of touch certain people have become in seeing the world around them. They display a desire to break off of the shackles of definition, but in doing so they are creating an even more strenuous and suffocating set. The real realization of the self, be it sexual, mental, political, etc. is brought by renouncing of definitions and accepting the fluidity inherent within those so-called distinctions. My belief is that this movement's achieving publicity can lead to a phase of recognition of the self in people, that is brave – and not based of linguistic borders.

An Unnecessary Update

This is some month we're going through. My wife is busy chasing the deadline of her M.A. thesis, and I get to see less and less of her in a relaxed state, or at all. In the meantime, the house we moved into just half a year ago does not handle the winter rains well. The roof is leaking every time a heavy rain pours over it, and today the water managed to crack into the kitchen floor from behind some wall.

I just want to freeze frame it all. It would feel nice to stop and take it all in, in good humor. I think this is why people are more preoccupied than ever with taking photos of themselves these days. If you can stop reality you can enjoy it like an observer from the side. I just feel that life right now is this thing that is either flashing too quickly in front of my face or at a complete halt, and never allows me to grab it.

 

פוסט ראשון

הפוסט הזה הוא הראשון שלך. יש ללחוץ על הקישור 'עריכה' כדי לשנות או למחוק אותו או להתחיל פוסט חדש. אפשר לנצל את הפוסט הזה כדי להסביר לקוראים מדוע פתחת את הבלוג ומה בכוונתך לעשות אתו. אם דרושה לך עזרה, תוכל לפנות לאנשים החביבים בפורומים לתמיכה.