Patience, Grasshopper …

There are those … a great many, from the so-called ‘president’ down through the ranks … who advocate for opening everything back up right now.  My own friend Scott (sklawlor) has very strong views that to keep businesses shuttered is draconian and is hurting people.  Yes, it is hurting people, hurting small businesses, but the alternative may well be 1,000 times worse.  So, I’d like to paint a scenario of what I think will happen in those areas that choose to re-open now.

First of all, if every business opened tomorrow, most would find themselves without adequate staffing.  Some people will be afraid to return to work, as the U.S. is still seeing more than 1,000 deaths per day.  Others will not be able to return to work, for they will have no childcare with daycare centers and schools closed.  Still others will not be able to return to work for they, themselves, are ill.

So, here’s Mr. Bob with a dine-in restaurant to open, but only about half his staff, if that, have returned to work.  Plus, Mr. Bob is trying his best to order beef, pork and chicken, not to mention fresh vegetables, and finding it’s hit and miss.  He can get half his order of ground beef the middle of next week, but no guarantee on the chicken breasts.  Also … he is mandated to change the seating arrangement in his restaurant so that he has only about half the tables he usually has, and NO bar seating.  Oh, and did I mention that he must also have printed disposable paper menus?  The printer will put his order in, but as there’s a backlog and the printer is understaffed for the same reasons Mr. Bob is, it may take a couple of weeks.

So, a couple of weeks pass and finally Mr. Bob has his ducks lined up, he’s ready for his Grand Re-Opening.  He has advertised on the ‘net, sent out flyers, and bought a small spot on a local radio program.  He opens his doors … and there are about 30 people in total.  The first group, a party of five, aren’t wearing masks, which Mr. Bob has been told they must do (though for the life of me, I don’t know how one eats with a bloomin’ mask!).  The party of five leave to go elsewhere, and Mr. Bob gives the red carpet treatment to the remaining 25.

The day progresses, people trickle in, but there is no surge of people who have just been chomping at the bit to dine at Mr. Bob’s.  At no time throughout the day or evening are all the tables filled, and at the end of the day, the receipts did not even cover the direct costs, let alone the overhead.

Why, you ask, did Mr. Bob, who’s restaurant is normally very popular, get so little business?  A number of reasons.  Very credible health experts who have dedicated their lives to the study of virology, have warned that there WILL be a resurgence, and most of us, after listening to the experts and thinking, realize it’s true, so we are in NO hurry to venture out on unnecessary business.  Second, during the two months of isolation, we have learned a few things.  We have learned that we really don’t need to go out for dinner every week, or shopping every weekend.  AND … when we did our end-of-month financial accounting, we realized that we had saved hundreds of dollars by staying home the past two months!  With times as uncertain as they are … we think for a few minutes and decide that for now, anyway, perhaps it would be best to continue staying home, keeping safe, and saving money, for who knows what tomorrow brings?

Time passes and the regulars start trickling back in to Mr. Bob’s restaurant, but not in any great numbers.  Worse yet, three of the servers on Mr. Bob’s staff have called in sick this week … he knows he should have his entire staff tested for coronavirus, but how?  At what cost?  By the end of the week, two other employees have tested positive for coronavirus and others are calling in saying that they simply cannot risk picking it up and bringing it home to their families.  The national daily death toll is now around 2,000 per day, and the total U.S. deaths have passed 120,000.

Saturday, Mr. Bob’s best day … he is down to two servers, one cook, and no hostess, so he will be wearing many hats.  By 10:00 p.m., when things are usually just starting to hop, Mr. Bob has one lone customer drowning his sorrows and a couple making google eyes over their steaks & salads.  Once they leave, Mr. Bob decides to hang it up and places the ‘Closed’ sign on the door for the last time.  He will call his attorney and ask him to file the bankruptcy papers tomorrow morning.

This, my friends, is NOT partisan bullshit, as Scott would likely say it is.  This is the scenario as I, an accountant for nearly 40 years and a thinker, a person with the ability to reason for far more years, think it will play out for small businesses across the nation.  I didn’t just come up with this scenario last night but have been playing the various possibilities in my head for weeks now.  In the above scenario, who gained anything?  Not the staff, some of whom were sickened, all of whom are now permanently out of their job.  Not the customers, some of whom no doubt picked up the virus at Mr. Bob’s and spent money that they may well need for food and rent in the coming months.  And not Mr. Bob, whose entire life just went up in smoke.

And there’s another aspect … earlier today I read that Trump is calling for schools to reopen so that parents can return to their jobs.  I was stunned that our children mean so little.  Would you be willing to send your children back to school right now?  I don’t have school-age kids, but if I did, I would be homeschooling for at least the rest of this year and maybe next year, as well.  No, we aren’t sending our children into the lion’s den just so businesses like Mr. Bob’s restaurant can re-open for a while.  NO!

In the words of Kwai Chang Caine played by David Carradine, “Patience, Grasshopper”.

58 thoughts on “Patience, Grasshopper …

  1. I will hazard to say, one of the reasons people are afraid to return to work, even schools, is the load of propaganda being poured out. In my youth, we knew what the world was about. We knew who were the adults. We knew what education, hobbies, and growing up was all about. Today, people are seeing social rules changing daily, and much of it is not good. People feel constantly regulated, regulations changing sometimes daily, and over time, this becomes a reason to find something else. It’s up to each person and family to find their path.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Perhaps it is the case that Americans have taken ‘individualism’ and ‘freedom’ just a bit too far. Unlike people in other countries, people in the U.S. are unwilling to make personal sacrifices for the greater good. This can only lead to disaster, as we are seeing today.

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      • Absolutely disagree, but we can agree to disagree, both of us having reasons for our beliefs. While I don’t condone the behaviors of many people, and I believe decency and morals are very important, traditions as well, I don’t believe in making “sacrifices” for the greater good, in the sense it’s portrayed. Let me explain. If I have something to do, but see my neighbor needs help (i.e. car troubles, carrying bags, or needing a ride to the hospital), I drop everything and help. But I don’t mandate that another neighbor, standing idly by, do the same thing. I hope, by seeing me helping a neighbor, that he/she realizes that helping is good. The difficulty with most people calling on personal sacrifices is the motive behind the request. There is good motive and bad motive. When JFK said the only thing to fear is fear itself, I got that. It always depends upon the motives. What we see often, today, are socialists/progressives asking for personal sacrifice, but not out of real concern, but to control. To use peer pressure. To use language. To use good ideas, but out of context, to control. While I think wearing seat belts is smart and thoughtful, I would never create a law requiring. You see, with freedom comes also risk. And without risk, without allowing individuality and free speech, we actually lose freedom. So, in this, individual responsibility comes into play, but not out of regulations. Because it always comes back to who decides what? We have a constitution and voting process. We have free speech. Mostly. But individuals need to speak up, then it’s up to all the individuals to raise their children properly, think for themselves, educate with real education, learn about the past (not rewritten), and change things for the better. One step at a time as I’m doing. As others are doing.

        Liked by 3 people

        • You make good analogies and I tend to agree with a lot of them myself.

          For instance, over here, though I haven’t seen them because I’m blind and don’t drive, the street signs actually have arrows pointing the right direction, at least that’s what my wife said. When she was over in Denmark on business, the street signs had no such indications, which is a good thing actually.

          If someone is too stupid not to know which direction he or she should go on the road, why should it be incumbent on the government to mandate that the signs have arrows on them?

          Think of how much that increases the costs of signs over all.

          another example is all these warning labels.

          If people are going to be stupid enough to eat tide pods and drink bleach, why should the government mandate that the companies put such warnings on all of their labels for all of their products which, again, increases the cost for everyone.

          If you’re so damn stupid that you think it would be a good idea to eat a tide pod, drink bleach, etc., then you should accept the consequences of such stupidity in the first place.

          Living life is about understanding and accepting the consequences of risks, whether we know all of the risks or not and it’s not the government’s job to micromanage every aspect of life to make it as safe and sanitary as possible.

          there’s such a thing as personal responsibility, perhaps you’ve heard about it or read about it back when such a practice was common in our culture.

          the “You” isn’t a personal reference, but one in general as you can probably assume.

          Oh, I think the quote you were going for by Kennedy was “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.

          If Kennedy were alive today, he’d be vilified and demonized by the left as being a conservative even though he was a classical liberal.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. An interesting nugget I heard today is that while the Republican governor of Georgia dragged his feet and didn’t announce a stay-at-home order until early April, the amount of business being done in Georgia dropped precipitously even before the order ever came. So yeah, people are smarter than we give them credit for. It doesn’t matter if a politician tells them “we need to re-open”–if they don’t feel safe, they don’t feel safe and they will not go out.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Adults are (mainly) well aware of the dangers in returning to work now but to take a chance on your children going back to school just so you can return to work before you’ve had proof that the level of deaths in your area has dropped consistently for a few weeks is stupid. You want to work to feed your kids but go back too soon and you might well have no kids to feed. If deaths in the country are still at 2000 a day you need to see them drop an awful lot to feel you’re in recovery/ I hope that happens soon.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 2 people

    • After reading a partial transcript of Dr. Bright’s testimony before Congress, I’m guessing that even if deaths drop off significantly, it will still be a mistake to reopen schools. Maybe it’s time for parents to form cooperatives to educate kids either in very small groups or online, for the classroom of 30-50 kids is not going to be a viable solution for a long time. I share your hope, but I don’t think, given the lack of leadership and common sense in this country, that it’s going to happen. Sigh.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 2 people

      • he’s got a good point.

        “I am actually able to remember what was predicted in the past and compare it to reality so basically anytime someone says “computer models predict” I know to stop listening.”

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sadly, I think about half of the small restaurants (and other businesses) will go belly-up in the next 12 months. Restaurants are among the most likely casualties, for they are, by nature, venues for social gatherings that can no longer be. I think some of the bigger chains will also go under by the end of the year. Trump thinks he can mandate their survival, but the reality is that it is We The People who will decide, not the governments.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. If the restaurants open around here — no, I won’t be going.

    If more stores open — yes, I may go there if I need something. But it will be less often than I would have gone in more normal times.

    If there were more testing and a program of contact tracing, I might be more willing to resume normal behavior. But that won’t happen as long because Trump doesn’t like testing.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Isn’t it curious that in all this time, there hasn’t been one closing of a wal-mart, CVS or Wallgreens, yet small businesses are closing all the time?
    I am guessing the owners of those stores, including the walton family have contributed to a lot of political candidates and other leaders over the years and thus the favoritism towards them in a time when social distancing is the norm?
    I too certainly hope your narrative does not come to pass and as you’ll know from my own blog, (shameless self-promotion, lol) I have put out an album that approaches the pandemic situation from a totally different perspective and the outcome is even worse than what you predicted.
    My point is that it seems that the majority of the closings, though not all as jc pennies and some other outlets have had to close facilities, but it seems that the ones being hit the hardest are the small businesses, little companies who treat their employees like people, not big corporations who treat their workers like cogs in a machine.
    The virus may not discriminate but politicians surely do.
    does it seem fair that a mom and pop store won’t get customers but a walmart will?
    where is the justice in that?
    I’m genuinely curious.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Just like in 2009 financial crisis when banks got bailed out and consolidated, getting bigger and more powerful, they “stole” all the foreclosed real estate from the ppl, one of the greatest transfer of wealth in history. Same concept different scenario, big retail big ag basically monopolized and consolidated small businesses and small farms. So much for free markets and competition, totally sanctioned by the gov’t (arbitrarily btw) walmart, target, sams club, amazon all the giants get free pass to conduct business, everybody else doing the same thing on a smaller scale must shutter their doors. That’s hypocrisy and corruption, and that’s life under predatory capitalism on steroids!
      The financial and business landscape will be very different in upcoming years. No more mom & pop anything, everything cold, commercial and corporate run. This is worse than George Orwell ever envisioned.
      No justice no peace!

      Liked by 2 people

          • You can share them if you’d like, one of my friends said that the story would be a good premise for a horror movie.

            I like my music to guide the imagination of the listener but I also try very hard to come up with good liner notes when possible to facilitate the guide a bit.

            I hope you’re doing well.

            hugs.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it curious that in all this time, there hasn’t been one closing of a wal-mart, CVS or Wallgreens, yet small businesses are closing all the time?

      No, not at all surprising. Walmart sells food, and people still need to eat. Likewise, for CVS and Walgreens, people still need to purchase their medications.

      I can put off buying a new appliance or a new car. But I cannot put off buying food and meds.

      Liked by 3 people

    • No surprise at all, and no conspiracies or under-handed dealings. Simple fact: Wal-Mart is a grocery store and CVS and Walgreens are pharmacies. Both are essential by any definition of the word. By the way … you mention J.C. Penney’s … it was announced tonight that they are filing bankruptcy … no surprise, as it was predicted two months ago. Will Sears be next?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Jill, are you saying that just maybe free-flowing, fully-charged “capitalism” just ain’t all it’s been cracked up to be, that maybe the simple lifestyle based on things other than money and financial success is here to stay despite presidential orders? WOW! (by the way, that’s a picture of an immature lubber which here in Florida grows as big as a goat and can devastate a garden in an hour😁)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Shocked, aren’t you, Larry? Capitalism in the U.S. has been out of control, or as I say, ‘run amok’, for some time now, and I think this crisis, which is likely to last for several years at least, is the thing that’s going to rein it in. Now mind you, I’m not advocating to do away with capitalism altogether, but a system of Socialism combined with Capitalism seems a much better plan for the vast majority of people in this country. I think the big multi-millionaires and billionaires are in for a harsh awakening. For the 99% of us who haven’t really benefited from the Uber-Capitalism, I think maybe we’ll start re-assessing what our priorities are, what’s most important to us. An immature lubber??? Who knew? I Googled ‘grasshopper’ and took the first picture that came up! (At 2:00 a.m., sometimes it seems simpler that way)

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I certainly hope that scenario does not play out, but I can see how that might be the outcome.
    On an unrelated note, when I saw you mention “direct costs”, I was wondering how you were familiar with such a term. Then I read that you were an accountant for 40 years! I must have missed that somehow!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I hate the scenario, but I think it’s likely to play out across the nation. And the person to blame is the one who chose to put his personal welfare above ours. Heh heh … yes, a CPA for many decades, and I still keep my hand in with a few clients whose books I keep and taxes I prepare. I don’t mention it often, for it’s rather part of my “other life”. After I retired, I discovered that what I really, really wanted to do was write!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Jill, it goes to show what we already know. People are smarter than most leaders we have. This is not a “Field of Dreams,” if you build it, he will come. People will come when they feel safe. Leaders cannot wave a magic wand and make it go away. Sadly, with less than judicious reopenings coupled with those who feel invincible, the pandemic will worsen. And, some will be shocked and blame others – well at least one person will, for sure. Keith

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes, one reader posted today that even before most states began requiring non-essential businesses to close, people were staying in more, and businesses were seeing a decline in the number of customers. People must have been already listening to the experts instead of Trump, and hopefully they will continue to do so. While I hate the picture I painted in this post, I believe it is the most likely scenario.

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    • Neil, you wrote, “People are smarter than most leaders we have.” I think the word people needed a qualifier, “most.” A significant percentage–mostly dedicated Trumpists–are defying regulations, guidelines, and plain-old common sense, because, “By God, I have my Constitutional rights” (to place myself and everyone I come in contact with in danger).

      Liked by 1 person

      • and what will you say when, after the pandemic is over, the governors and other state and local officials continue to exercise the control they have over your freedom to move, freedom to assemble, freedom to worship or tell you how much of something you can purchase?

        Government always does this, they start with a little control and it always morphs into something totally different. It’s called unintended consequences.

        Look to the patriot act, legislation that certainly isn’t patriotic for a most recent example of this.

        Perhaps you’ll look back and think “maybe it wasn’t so selfish for people to stand for my freedom after all and maybe, just maybe the “experts” got it all wrong”

        It does happen you know.

        think about it, think about it long and hard before you go accusing people of not caring if people die because they want their freedom.

        This is not a personal attack against anyone so please don’t take it that way.

        If anyone does, that’s on them, not me. Why should I change the way I present myself and sensor my expression just to not offend someone. I’m over it already.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. The resurgence has already started in China where they opened up vacation spots for folks and those who were straining at the bit were determined to pretend that all was normal. As a rule we are not big on patience in this country and since business runs everything else we will soon start up despite the very things you warn us about. The word you are searching for is “stupid.”

    Liked by 5 people

    • There is no justice in that at all. But some of these Wal-Marts can quickly replace staff so the shops are always fairly well staffed even when staff have been dropping like flies. The staff generally don’t have to come in contact with each other and they’re able to clean areas touched by customers .If they’re sensible they’ll have a no cash policy but if not I hope they wear gloves. The Mom and Pop stores will suffer more if they want to re-open and they are a member of staff down, they rarely have access to a back-up list. They will also find their stock harder to replace, especially food as wholesalers had to throw wasted food away and now have lists of heavier players trying to find new suppliers to get them going quicker.Of course the meat is not so easy to come by yet. All this will change but it takes time.
      If Trump would spread this out slowly and if he’d wait until deaths are below a thousand a day. If he remembered that his opponent in the election has the same problem regarding the economy maybe he’d take less chances with people’s lives.Some better help for the Mom and Pop business and none for the already bloated and wealthy owners of Wal-Mart and Cruise lines.
      Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I heard about China … it was inevitable, but still discouraging. Today I read that we may never be rid of the coronavirus and will that life will be different from here on. You’re right about the “American spirit” as it were … we don’t take kindly to being told what to do, and that has been a part of the problem, though with proper and accurate information, perhaps we would have made wiser decisions in the beginning. I see a bit of a bright spot in the thought that the “Capitalism run amok” about which I have complained so bitterly, may finally be reined in by necessity. I only know that I’m convinced not to take any unnecessary chances. For two months now, my sole venture into the public arena has been a weekly grocery trip (essential) and I’m much more comfortable with that than I ever thought I would be. Yes, I’ve used the word ‘stupid’ more in the past three months than in the past 30 years!

      Like

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