It’s All Unraveling (Plague, Day 84, May 28, 2020)

First some links. The post office is in deep shit trouble. Before schools open, they have to figure out hundreds of logistical issues. The states won’t have the cash to save schools or anything else. Private schools, many of which serve poor kids and disable kids, might not make it. What happens when unemployment benefits run out in July?

This has been been my reading list for the past couple of days. Cheerful stuff, right? Meh, it’s nothing compared to my conversations with school leaders, and people on the ground floor of all this.

I hand my packages of used books to the middle aged Asian lady behind the sheet of plastic, who puts my parcels on the scale. She’s there every Tuesday and Friday, when I do this chore. Actually, she’s there 60 hours per week, because she’s the only person working behind the counter at this branch now. She said everybody else left or was fired. We share sad smiles behind masks.

With Steve just a few feet from me in constant meetings with the business folks from Wall Street, there’s not much cheerful news from that corner of the office either. I’ve plugged in my headphones to block out his meetings this morning.

Jonah has been trying to find work. He’s looking for something better than a supermarket job, but so far, no luck. This week, he’ll help out my dad at the food pantry and take care of some loose ends at school. I just don’t think it’s healthy for young adults to spend too much time in a house, so if he can’t find something better, he’ll be at the checkout lane at Stop and Shop.

My job is to be the person who talks at every school board meeting about the needs of the kids, while we’re in the midst of a local tax revolt. I’ll write my write my articles. But mostly I’m keeping my own people here safe.

19 thoughts on “It’s All Unraveling (Plague, Day 84, May 28, 2020)

  1. Lots of new people working in the grocery store. You can tell when you buy onions and they look in the little book to see the number for onions.


    1. I’m on our local school board, and I am the one who keeps trying to tell the other decision makers (in our town, the Select Board and the Finance Committee) that schooling is most likely about to become A LOT more expensive in the fall. They just keep saying – tell us what you’re going to cut. And I keep pushing back – if they cut schools, it will be devastating as our expenses (buses, cleaning, space, personnel, etc.) will go WAY up if we have any face to face contact.

      I am deeply worried about what the school year looks like for K-12 next year. While I don’t see how we can safely be face to face, I also don’t see how we can continue with online schooling. The Globe had a story (which you tweeted about) that ~20% of Boston school kids have gotten NO schooling during the online phase of school – this can’t continue.

      My best bet at this point will be some form of alternating school days – you come 2-3 days per week and work from home 2-3 days per week. But we need our state to take the lead on that – negotiating that with our unions will be next to impossible – and I am not holding my breath on that one. It’s so, so depressing.


      1. If it’s like here, most of the teachers also have kids in school. If you try to require odd hours and shifting schedules, there will be a problem regardless of unions. The coordination of all those schedules is going to be a problem.


      2. Unfortunately for us, our school schedules are in our union contract. Negotiating changes to those schedules has been VERY difficult in the past. Ideally, we’d like it out of the contract, so we can adapt in situations like this, but that would require concessions we can’t afford to give as our school funding is so low. We also have some language about online learning that would need to be adapted – our union has been quite opposed. These are just a few of the issues we’ll need to deal with.

        We were able to negotiate an MOU for this spring, but I am worried about how this will proceed if every district has to engage in these kinds of negotiations with their unions individually. On the one hand, I am sympathetic to the teachers concerns. On the other hand, my number 1 concern is ALWAYS the needs of our kids, and I am worried that some of what they will demand will just not be possible in lean budget times. We need some leadership from the state to say – this is what it is going to look like.


  2. “My job is to be the person who talks at every school board meeting about the needs of the kids, while we’re in the midst of a local tax revolt.”

    I cheer for every mom who does this, even when I sometimes disagree.


  3. I really want grocery stores to move to the model of contactless pickup. I wonder how far I’d go to support a store that just didn’t allow customers in the store, provided PPE to all their workers.

    I agree that it isn’t good for anyone, but especially young people, to spend all their time in their parent’s home.


    1. “I really want grocery stores to move to the model of contactless pickup.”

      My husband, who does most of the grocery shopping, would hate this because he has no idea what he wants until he gets there. (Yes, he does go with a list. But he still needs to make decisions on the spot.)


      1. Me too. Any my wife, who does pretty much all the shopping in non-plague times, refuses to even have a list: she just walks down each aisle looking at the offerings and musing about the coming week.


    2. bj said, “I really want grocery stores to move to the model of contactless pickup.”

      I want to pick my own produce (at least fresh fruit). Some of the stuff in the store can be pretty sad.


    3. Yeah, except for the fact that it’s the only place do go these days, grocery stores are not my happy place. But they are one of the places where workers get exposed to lots of people where we could minimize contact.


  4. Shopping question: Does cheap red wine keep as long in a box as a bottle? I’m not going into the next shutdown with less than ten litters.


      1. The link was helpful. Thanks. I’m mostly worried about storage before opening and it looks like glass is the winner there. To bad because that takes up so much room and our basement is small.


      2. Box wine takes up much less space. If you drop the box, it doesn’t shatter. While bottled wine may last longer, every bottle of wine is something of a gamble. Many bottles have been corky, or funky in some way, over the years. Then again, I don’t buy expensive wine. I enjoy the taste of wine, but not enough to pay a lot of money per bottle.

        I’m a fan of modern wine technology–twist off tops, wine boxes, whatever else they think up.

        You can turn old wine into vinaigrette. I want to try that out. I’ve found a recipe online for chive blossom vinegar, which looks really pretty. My chives are blooming right now, and some resources say herbs go off after they bloom.


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