I shouldn’t have to be writing this. You know better. But common sense seems to be about as scarce as N95 masks right now, so I’m going to say this one more time:
STOP SPITTING ON THE SIDEWALK!!!!
Yeah, I went all caps there. It seemed necessary. You may not think this is a big problem, but at least three times in the past week, as I have timidly ventured out of my house, gloved and wrapped in scarves like I was in the Witness Protection Program, attempting to gulp some air that has not been recirculated through the cat hair filter that is my apartment, I have seen runners nonchalantly hock a big loogie of snot from their nasal passages and whip it out of their mouths like they were Leo teaching Kate how to do it off the side of the Titanic.
I apologize for that sentence.
Taking a walk is one of the few pleasures we can indulge in during these germy days, and the thought of stepping in the excess body fluids of anyone who isn’t man enough to tuck a tissue in their running shorts is more than I can handle right now. As it is, the walks themselves may soon be deemed illegal if we don’t watch out.
Here in Chicago, we had a rare spring day full of sunshine and 60-degree temperatures, so we did what any sane person who has been trapped inside for days would do: we went to the lakefront. All of us. At the same time. This was admittedly not very smart, as it is hard to stay six feet apart when there are people walking together arm in arm like they are playing an infectious game of Red Rover. We got a firm, well-deserved scolding from our Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who was very, very mad, and she shut down all the public paths and pretty places to walk or bike along the lakefront, making the entire class suffer because some fools thought playing basketball counted as social distancing as long as you committed fewer than three personal fouls.
I can understand why the shutdown was necessary, but I feel like this was an honest mistake on the population’s part. We are all still figuring out how to do this, and we were told we could go outside. The mayor didn’t specifically say, “Not all at the same time, dummies,” so perhaps the city needs to be clearer in its messaging. “You’re all going to die if you do that again,” might be a good slogan to address that.
The ironic thing about shutting down the public parks and lakefront is that when Daniel Burnham was mapping out his Great Plan for Chicago in the early 1900s or Frederick Law Olmsted was painting with nature as he designed Central Park and many of the other great public spaces across the country, they understood that fabulous green areas were essential to keeping the teeming masses from being stuck in their cramped tenements full of disease. A bracing walk was an excellent way to avoid cholera, as long as you didn’t drink the water.
As the weather warms up, I hope that we will all get used to the restrictions and become a little more cautious. Perhaps we could have specific time periods that we would be allowed to visit the parks, like the senior hours at the grocery stores. I am putting in a personal request for 10am – 11:00am on Tuesdays and Thursdays, although I could make do with 30 minutes. I know we all have to make sacrifices.
I assign 2:45am-4:00am to the runners who spit. You know who you are.
Next time on The Ripple Effect:
Social Distancing with Cats: An Oxymoron