Two & a half years ago, I fought my way up the face of El Capitan. All 3,000-ish feet of it. And I mean fought. This year, this month, during the onslaught of a virus humans have never before encountered, the bravest, scariest thing I’ve done is go to the supermarket.
Getting ready for that expedition was very much like preparing to go up El Cap:
Special gloves. Check.
Homemade mask. Check.
Plastic liner for the car, where the possibly contaminated bags will sit. Check.
Special area in the garage to unpack the possibly contaminated items. Check.
Spray bottle of disinfectant and paper towels to wipe down packaged items. Check.
Sink empty to accommodate the fresh veggies & fruit, to be washed with special soap. Check.
Receptacle for the used gloves and paper towels. Check.
Not as physically demanding as El Cap, but mentally, just as exhausting. Because the risks are the same.
I know that not everyone who gets the corona virus dies from it. Just as I know that most climbers go home at night, or sleep safely in their portaledge, and live to climb again the next day. But I also know the small percentage of those who don’t. Those who leave the hospital in a body bag.
Doctors treating this illness under third-world conditions in the U.S. are making videos to say good-bye to their little kids, for when they ultimately contract it and succumb.
Those who mourn, have to do so alone. No funerals. Kids can’t say good-bye to their grandparents.
The U.S. knew about this virus in January. It didn’t need to get this bad. January! We could have been ready. There’s no good reason for us to have to fight it without adequate protection, supplies, equipment, medicine. That’s the part that hurts the most. We’re better than that.
Or at least, we used to be.