Thirty-five. That’s the typical answer when you ask someone to forget their chronological age and just tell me how old you feel like you are. In the same way, 2020 feels like it ended three or four years ago.
While January and February were utterly forgettable, COVID sucked the fun out of pretty much everything by March. As a 62-year-old white dude from Boise, Idaho, I’m used to being a blue guy in a red state. I’m used to the good ol’ boy politics, the “keep ‘em out” mentality as it comes to move-ins in a year when Idaho was of all states the number one state to which folks moved.
Working as a writer/marketing guy/program and brand manager for a local radio group, I used to write semi-cynical stuff about life. Love. Things I think are stupid. Events/concerts, where to go to have some fun, or dinner out. Through 2020, it was where you could get takeout, or how to do delivery and support local businesses and the people who work there, or where to get a COVID test which may or may not show results within two weeks by which time what the hell good is that?
A former promotion coordinator of mine coined the phrase “TTRBs.” Things That Require Bodies. That could be anything from remote, on-site broadcasts to appearances at shows or concerts or benefits or anything the station group was involved with. Typically, TTRBs” require at minimum one on-air talent, and one promotion assistant; i.e., the guy/girl who drove the van, set up all the stuff, hung the banners and set up both the PA gear and the equipment the talent needed to talk to the studio.
In a typical year, with four active radio stations, that TTRB number was 800, 900. Hey 2020, thanks for getting us down to double digits.
In the ‘70s, Idaho had a reputation as a haven for white supremacists. Some of us worked to erase that image, but the toxic combination of Trump and COVID negated that work. Idaho has more mask-protesters than any other state, per capita. We’ve had incidents where health and government officials were working on safety protocols while Trumpkins stalked their HOMES, pounded on their DOORS, and scared the living s— out of the children of our officials while our leaders were in session.
In fairness, Boise (capitol) is becoming an ever-darker shade of purple. But like so many states according to John King’s map (CNN), the rural areas bleed red.
COVID (and by extension, 2020) stole a year from me. A year when I saw my eighty-something parents in person maybe three times even though they still live where I grew up, about a mile and a half from where I work. I mean, I don’t have forever with them. Thanks, COVID. I have a daughter and her family in Scotland. “Hey Americans; stay home.” Thanks, COVID. I have another daughter and her family in San Diego. “Dad” is on a Navy deployment, and since the kids are in online schooling, they took COVID tests (thankfully negative) and did drive up for Christmas. So, hey COVID – thanks!
Day to day, the worst of 2020 wasn’t really COVID. It was insurrection specialist Donald Trump, and then the threat of COVID.
Newspeak dictionary, 2020:
• What they say: “Hey boss, I had a possible COVID exposure because I was in a place where someone knew someone who had a potential exposure. So. I guess I can’t come in for 14 days per HR.”
o What I think: “Free two-week vacation that doesn’t count against your PTO.”
• What they say: “Hey, I’m gonna work from home on Friday.”
o What I think: “Three day weekend.”
And then there are the mask clowns. Example one: Eventually, Albertsons (headquartered in Boise), WINCO and some others required masks and set employees at entrances to remind customers of their obligation. I watched a couple semi-scruffy guys walk in. Get stopped. And reluctantly pull the masks out of their pockets. Really?
There are other places where “dudes” congregate. Like say Harbor Freight Tools. Most guys – and it’s almost all guys in there – do what I do. You protect me, I protect you. Except for guys who don’t give a s—. But my favorite of all was the guy who carried a cloth handkerchief. As someone would approach, he would (sort of) cover his mouth and nose with said handkerchief. On passing, he would lower it. My God. Pick a team, man!
And then there are the nose-showers. I was standing in line with around ten other customers at checkout, all distanced, all wearing their masks. Except one middle-aged couple who had their masks on, but covering only their mouths. I thought about saying something. “Hey, your f—- masks slipped.” Or “Uh, hey guys, do you notice anything everyone else is doing that you jackasses aren’t?” I still regret chickening out, saying nothing.
I’d say more about Trump in 2020, but 2020 doesn’t own all of that. It has to share the 22,000 lies with 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. It actually took 2021 to say “What the hell? See what you other idiots did? Thanks.”
I also lost a couple of good, or at least longstanding, friends in 2020. Not to COVID. But to Trumpism.
Counting on you, President Biden.