Plague Days: Standing on the Neutral Ground

A couple of days after Shit Got Weird, I was downtown and at work as usual.  We were up to our necks in Business Continuity Planning, wrangling all of those things that the company had to do in the background to ensure we could start minimizing employee presence in the office while attempting to keep the regular work going as well.  We’re a 24/7 operation, so this was a big undertaking.   Still is.

I was Sent Forth on another sandwich mission for the boss, so forth I went.  By this time most dining establishments were already closed, except for the precious handful that were either delivery-only or offering pickup.  Although my nearest spot was only a block away, I decided to combine errands and hit up Walgreens too for some things I needed.

You see, I could sense our days downtown (or out in public, in general) were numbered, so I had to stock up on a couple of drugstore things ahead of that.  But really, mainly, I wanted to see what Canal St. was like in our swiftly-vacating city.

It was weird, was what it was like.  That was the word at the top of my vocabulary that week as all of this was barreling down the pipe: Weird.  Just, weird.

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March 18, 2020: Canal Street

No traffic.  I already knew that from our morning commutes, which had rapidly – in the course of a few days – gone from packed and dead-stop to minimal and barren. (We could actually take the interstate, it was so empty.  In normal times, the interstate is always avoided for fear of arriving to the office an hour late.)

Canal St., generally speaking, is a zoo.  Lunchtime, particularly, is an absolute madhouse.  You step out of the shadowed grand canyon of the CBD into the glaring sun of Canal St. and immediately get bombarded by the bumper to bumper vehicles, the swaggering daydrinking crowds, the trundling streetcars, the office people hauling ass to run an errand on their lunch break…and while you’re standing there taking all THAT in you inevitably and promptly get hit up for change or cigarettes or drugs from one of the many varying streetfolk.

Not this day.

CanalSt1
March 18, 2020: Canal Street

It took a minute to soak in the Offness there.  I was walking back and forth across the street without bothering to stop and look, because there were no cars coming. There were one or two people here and there, but very few. Maybe a swaggering daydrinking tourist that hadn’t quite caught the memo.  The streetcars were out, but not moving.  Businesses were closing their doors. There was no mayhem.  No Canal Chaos.  Just a tangible quiet.  A strange stillness.

I stood on the neutral ground for a good while, just soaking that oddness in.  It was…

..well, it was WEIRD.

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Then I did my Walgreens errand and grabbed the sandwich that sent me outdoors in the first place and then went back to work.  I was happy to bring the field report back to my coworkers that the drugstore had toilet paper.

At least, they did that day.

More coming.  Let’s talk about the joys of working from home tomorrow!

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