In Chancellor Phil Murphy’s dystopian dictatorship otherwise known as the People’s Republic of New Jersey his official policy is that Covid-19 is lurking behind every bush and inside every small business just waiting to send you to a slow and ghastly death.
Out in the Real World it’s different. A whole lot different.
On Thursday August 6th Sophie and I set out on a 2500 mile cross country drive, destination Tempe, AZ, more specifically Arizona State University. We needed to arrive by the 12th so she could move into her dorm on the morning of the 13th. We took a northeast to southwest route, I-80 through Pennsylvania into Ohio, I-70 through Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, an interminable, boring stretch of US-54 through Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, before hooking up with I-40 in New Mexico to Arizona, and then taking I-11 south for the home stretch into Tempe.
Along the way we stopped, frequently, to eat, shop, sight see, and of course use the rest rooms. Everything was open. No lines. No capacity restrictions. We ate in restaurants! Inside! We stayed in hotels, where they had coffee and breakfast available every morning, just for the taking! We met a lot of nice people and ate some great food. We sat at bars and talked to the folks around us. We walked around outside without masks, even in parks! I got to stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and it was such a fine sight to see. And you know what, the Covid-19 bogeyman didn’t catch us. Imagine that.
Afterward I flew on Southwest from Phoenix to Las Vegas. I gotta say, they make flying fun. Yes everyone had to wear a mask, but they weren’t jerks about it, gently cajoling the passengers to go with the flow. It was an easy, one hour flight. McCarran airport was mostly open, and people were playing the slot machines, eating, and drinking. I got my bags and checked into the Aria hotel for some much needed R&R.
MGM requires masks everywhere, even at the pool, unless you’re actually in the water, walking to/from the water, or actively eating or drinking. They have roving Mask Patrols, gently asking people in chairs to mask up. And as I soon learned, “actively drinking” means “holding a water bottle.” Yup. You could sit maskless for hours, so long as that bottle doesn’t leave your hand. Most of the security dudes carried a supply of water bottles which they slyly passed out with a good natured laugh. The rules are stupid. And everyone knows it.
Nevada has a nitwit Democrat governor, Steve Sisolak, who’s almost as much of pompous jerk as Phil Murphy. So even though restaurants and casinos are open, bars are closed. Which is dumb because that meant none of the drink windows along the strip were available and I couldn’t sit for hours at a bar playing video poker like I usually do. But that didn’t stop people from being out and about! In fact I’d say the crowds on Saturday night were almost at pre-pandemic levels and everyone was having a good time.
I flew home through Houston on Tuesday the 18th. United requires masks too, and they’re a lot more authoritarian about it. Also you could tell that every single person who works for them hates their job. But I landed in Newark safely, took an Uber home, and since almost every state I visited is on our esteemed dictator’s quarantine list, I (mostly) stayed in my house for the past 2 weeks.
Guess what? I’m still not sick. Neither is Sophie, who’s enjoying college life and making friends.
Open the damn state Murphy. The rest of the country is rolling along just fine.