I went out to get the mail this afternoon and my neighbor Herc was getting into his car with a
friend.  I hadn’t spoken to him in a month.

“How are you holding up?” he asked.  I knew what he meant.

“It’s hardly affected me.  I never go out except to the bodega.  I’m a hermit.  But I wonder how it’s influencing the economy…bars and restaurants are closing unless they seat fewer than 25, people aren’t traveling, and they don’t want to go to movies, concerts, or the theatre.”

“It’s gonna be the best thing that ever happened to our economy,” Herc answered.  “I’m a
Socialist.”

Herc isn’t into buying and spending and all the claptrap of a capitalist society.  He shrugged. So we chatted for a minute about the debate between Biden and Sanders last night.  He’d missed it but heard a report from a friend.

“I’d be happy with either of them,” I said.

“They’re both creeps,” he replied.  “And I’m a real Socialist.  I don’t like anyone who was in the running.”

“You know,” I said, returning to the previous conversation, “Kids are pretty safe.  If they get the coronavirus it’s more like a bad cold, nothing serious.”

“I know,” he nodded.  “And I’m in my 60s, but I’m not worried.  I’m not that old.”

I smiled at him.  Just then his friend leaned out of the car and waved down a woman who was

walking by with a big shopping bag.

“Where’d you get the toiler paper?” he asked her.

“Little shop down the street.”  She kept walking.  I suddenly found myself wondering if I had a good supply of toilet paper myself.  But it seemed likely I did.

“You know,” I said to Herc, “more people die from the flu than from this.” 

Since I don’t see him often I like being cheerful around him.  I said goodbye and turned away as he and his friend got ready to drive off.

But when I went back into my apartment after opening my mailbox that the postman had

touched, I washed my hands.  You don’t want to argue with good health.

Thank you Martha, for your story! “Inside Our Time” digital series: