Friday, April 03, 2020

Trust me, I'm essential

Charles Street is the main shopping drag in my neighborhood, and a lot of it's still open for business. Essential business, that is.

The wonderful little neighborhood drugstore - Gary Drug - is still open. This is an old-timey gem, incredibly well-stocked for how tiny it is, and we're lucky to have it here. And unlike with the Cheers Bar - just up the street from me, and closed for the duration - at Gary Drug, everybody really does know your name.

The wonderful little neighborhood hardware cum general store - Charles Supply - is still open. This is a family-owned, family-run business that's now run by the son of the original proprietor, who's so local, he even lives over the store. Like Gary Drug, it is a fabulous neighborhood resource, and we're lucky to have both of these stores in our midst.

The not so wonderful little neighborhood grocery store - DeLuca's -  is still open - and I've used it in a pinch, as in when my regular still-open but further afield grocery, Roche Brothers, ran out of flour on the day I wanted to bake Irish soda bread, and I got to get some fancy organic flour there - for twice what I'd have paid for King Arthur.

The supremely wonderful (I'm sure of it, although the only thing I ever bought there was an orange) neighborhood butcher/grocer - Savenor's - is still open. It's a bit foodie, and pretty meaty, and I don't cook much meat that's not chicken, so I don't shop there. Julia Childs bought her meats at the Savenor's in Cambridge. 'Nuf said.

I just checked, and the packies are both open. And some of the restaurants are doing takeout. I didn't notice whether the dry cleaners are still operating. Nor the real estate agents. (Can't imagine there's much going on there these days.)

Our wonderful little Post Office branch is open. Neither snow nor rain nor COVID19 is going to stay these couriers. 

All of the above are on the Massachusetts essential list.

But the cobbler is closed, as are the fancy clothing stores (mostly aimed at size 2-wearing 20 somethings), the gift shops, the place that sells the $100 dishtowels and the $200 cotton nightgowns. The jewelers. The precious little kids' store. The place I've never been in, the one with the clawfoot tub in the the window, the one that looks like it sells only loofas and soap. The nut store. (Boo-hoo.) The antique stores are shuttered. The store that sold antinque doorknobs, andirons and weathervanes had already closed. The nail places are out of the picture. As is the picture framer.

Every state has its own list of what's essential and what's not. Some states - Florida and, I believe, Georgia - consider churches on the essential list. Anyone who knows anything about Massachusetts would understand that religion is not considered essential when it means gathering hundreds of people together under one roof in a sure-fire COVID19 transmission zone. In both Florida and Georgia, Catholic bishops have suspended services for the duration. They're asking folks to watch on the Internet. It's not clear how many other churches will follow suit. A few megachurches in the South have announced that they will continue to run services, apparently believing that God will protect them. But I'm pretty sure that the coronavirus bows neither to man nor to God. Sigh. I do, however, feel bad for those who had weddings and christenings planned, or who neeed to have a funeral.

Massachusetts has been shut-downish for a couple of weeks now, the decision to be revisited on May 4th. 

In the meantime, our governor, Charlie Baker, has been getting an earful from businesses that want to be declared essential. 

Baker did yield on some requests, widening the (original) list. Examples include: chiropractors, bicycle maintenance, landscapers, real estate agents. Also, gun distributors are allowed to be open, but not gun shops. Recreational marijuana? Still deemed nonessential. (Medicinal marijuana has been considered essential from the start.) (Source: Boston Globe)
Which reminds me that I passed the chiropractor on Charles Street, and they're open. But the yoga studio isn't. 

I guess I don't understand why a gun distributor could remain open, but not a gun shop. Not that I need either. In other parts of the country, the rootin' tootin' gun stores are considered essential. And I read the other day that since the pandemic started going pan, more than 2 million guns have been purchased in the US of A. NRA must be de-lighted.

And, for crying out loud, if ever there were a time to put recreational marijuana on the essential list, this would be it. Not that we have one in the 'hood. 
In a few instances, the governor became more restrictive. Most notable among those: hotels, motels and short-term rentals can now only be made available to medical workers and other people fighting the spread of COVID-19, or for people displaced by the pandemic. Hotels had a blanket exemption under the earlier ruling.

While hotels can stay open for COVID-19 related purposes, many had already closed due to lack of business.
Golf course owners and managers were among those that tried and failed to be deemed essential, though they did get some clarity on a related front — that landscapers can continue to maintain the courses during the shutdown.
The weather's been too awful for golf, anyway.  If and when it improves - it is spring, after all, albeit spring in New England - golfers will no doubt be going bonkers, and I'm sure plenty of them will be sneaking in on the back nine.

Small retailers who've been shuttered are looking for exemptions to allow them to do curbside pickups, which seems fair, although merchandise from small shops can be shipped out. It seems kind of dumb to fly a couple of books all over the country to transpo hubs when the purchaser lives two blocks away. But I don't make the rules. 

Although it's been a week now since I've been in a store, I'm happy that the essentials are doing their essential best to make sure we have Oreos, paper towels, Tylenol and postage stamps. 

Me? I'll be sheltering in place, out only for my walks and when I really need something. I'm home, and it's a happy place. And here, well, you can trust me, I find that I'm plenty essential.

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