The trip was almost cancelled. My 87-year young Dad called and said they were locking down Southern California. He strongly suggested if we had not already purchased the tickets, not to come and visit. I had already bought the tickets and my wife and I were determined to take that trip as long as we and he were healthy, the airports were open and the planes were flying.
The experts, leaders and authorities warned the Wuhan virus was ascending. Public officials deemed we were taking our lives in our hands by flying on an airplane just to visit family. We would be endangering older members of our family or those with compromised immune systems by being out in public and potentially carrying the dreaded disease. Only essential workers should fly they said. But who should decide who is essential?
Of course our military personnel are essential to protect our country. Of course our police, to protect us from criminals, are essential. Of course the courts are essential to adjudicate our differences. Of course medical personnel and their support staff are essential during a pandemic. Yet, none of these essential jobs can function unless the other “essentials” are working. The small businesses that are the very essence of our economy; the restaurants and Mom and Pop stores that are the economic engine that allows for profit and prosperity for the other essentials to function. They are as essential, if not more so, than any government worker or bureaucrat.
My wife and I weighed the risks. After all, we are healthy, feeling good and so were our relatives. We read scientific reports, listened to friends who had experienced the virus first-hand and with this information we made the decision to live our lives fully rather to live in fear. We understood the threat and the potential situation to our health as being serious. We made our choice. We took the trip.
On the day of our departure the airports were open. The TSA, the traffic controllers, the pilots, flight attendants and all airport personnel were working. Airport restaurants were serving food and drinks and gift stores were open. Construction crews were inside the building still working on the Great Hall of the airport, many years behind schedule and millions of dollars over budget. Are these workers any more essential than a Mom and Pop store, a restaurant or any small business?
It reminded me of the problem-solving grid created by Milton Freedman who suggested one should look at public policy issues from the stand point of Who Pays, Who Benefits, Who Decides and What’s Fair?
The airport and the plane were mostly empty. Fifty passengers on an aircraft that could hold 170. The flight was smooth, fast and enjoyable as I read an engaging book. We landed before you knew it. Los Angeles International was under a major construction project. Amazing that these construction jobs were deemed essential and government money seemed to be fueling their pace. We were the only ones on the rental car bus which whisked us to our car. Our first stop was to visit my Dad who lives ninety minutes south of L.A. We made the trip at the height of rush hour traffic in a ridiculously fast time and we were at his front doorstep in an hour and a half. Maybe they did find a solution to LA’s traffic problem; scare the populous into their homes.
The street where my Dad lives was packed with cars in this beachside community. A party was in high gear next door to him with a jazz combo playing swinging music and people enjoying themselves in sequestered Southern California. Was this civil disobedience? Was the local populace through putting up with their hypocritical over seers? It appeared so.
My Dad greeted us with hugs and kisses and told us to remove our masks. We did. He has had very little person to person contact for the last ten months since we were all told, “15 days to flatten the curve.” The populous obeyed and yet the edicts of lockdowns still came in thirty day increments. As a healthy octogenarian, my Dad is in great physical shape and has a positive mental attitude. The music next door filled the air and was a wonderful background noise for the delicious dinner my Dad prepared of mouth-watering steak, baked potatoes, salad and the several bottles of local wine which may or may not have all been consumed. We laughed, talked and discussed of our missing each other for almost a year and what was happening in our lives and in the world, until we were too tired to continue.
The next day, we helped my Dad clean his place, did yard work, talked and laughed some more. My Dad needed a new microwave. The store where we purchased the appliance was packed with people rear-end to elbow buying gifts for Christmas. Yet, the local restaurant we wanted to go to was open for take-out or delivery only, no in-house dinning. This is the lunacy of government picking winner and losers. We decided to order dinner from the local sushi restaurant, light the Hanukkah candles and had a delivery service risk their life by picking up and dropping off the food in a timely manner.
The next day we drove back up to Los Angeles to visit more family from afar or in close proximity depending on their comfort level or medical situation. It was a great visit and we all survived. No one caught the Communist Chinese Party Virus. The best part of this trip besides visiting family was the airports and roads were mostly empty. Travel was a breeze. The reason for sharing this story is simply this. You can be an obedient sheep corralled in the “safety” of your home, waiting for the day when your overlords tell you it is OK to live your life. Or, you can be the shepherd of your life and live it in full knowledge there are consequences to one’s choices living in freedom and taking responsibility for those decisions. We called my Dad when we arrived back in Denver to let him know we were home. He wanted us to turn around and come back already. Every life is indeed essential, so live it like it is.