31 March 2020

Empty Pockets, Empty Streets

 Five and I drove to Target today. I told him we needed to go buy seeds, but the truth is he just really needed to be in the outside world. He's been cooped up and sleeping a lot so I'm trying to ward off depression, mostly by driving around and letting him play music. Target sits in the outer ring of our local mall, which has been shuttered by its management company, Simon. It's strange to drive all the way around and see the vast expanse of empty lots. It's a stark example of what is happening all across America now as retailers shut down for an indefinite period of time.

The mall, however, is an impersonal chunk of brooding, barren architecture. Its miles of closed concrete walls allow for a rather distant, macro view of the crisis facing us. The individual toll comes into relief when driving through our small downtown. Businesses which have been open for decades sit dark, explanatory signs still in the windows. The liquor store, deemed essential, waits for customers to drive down our empty streets.

Retail directly employs 29 million Americans and supports 42 million jobs. Today, the Captain's company furloughed 90% of it's employees. We will not read about a rescue package for this industry, despite the staggering number of people affected by its decline.

I work at a supermarket. We are hiring. Three already works in my store, Two has an interview tomorrow, and Six has applied for a full-time position. We are busy because we sell food. But even that isn't guaranteed as supply chains struggle and more folks lose their jobs.

I'm not sure we're going to get through this together.