I got an email from my daughter's dance studio today. They are struggling - they've been offering classes over Zoom which we've participated in as much as possible, but apparently a lot of people are pulling their kids out of the school and the studio seems like it might be on the verge of collapse. This makes me very sad on a number of levels, but what really got to me was the implication from the owner that she had been getting a lot of nasty messages from parents demanding refunds, etc.
I understand that everyone has different circumstances, and that the monthly expense of dance class is a costly burden for many families. We're going to stick with the studio's Zoom classes, but I wouldn't blame anyone for dropping out if their kid isn't getting benefit from it. What I do blame people for is being mean-spirited and cruel. These dance classes has brought so much joy to so many little kids and the owner is such a nice person. I feel like even those of us who need to stop attending the school should be as kind and compassionate about it as possible.
And of course it is a much bigger problem than one little local business. My wife said that when she was at the supermarket yesterday the cashier told her that many customers had been screaming at her for offering them a paper receipt. My friends who are in service jobs talk about how their patrons don't see them as people so much as servants.
Across the country we are seeing swarms of selfish, cruel and stupid people demanding that we abandon basic safety precautions because they want to get a haircut or have their nails done. They don't care about endangering the lives of those around them, and they are too foolish to realize that they are likely to become infected themselves.
Massachusetts is so far doing pretty well in that regard. Our governor finally decided to shut down the schools for the rest of the year, which is a huge relief to me. Presumably that means the stay-at-home order will remain in place for some time to come as well. But the cases continue to increase and they say we are at the beginning of a surge. As painful as the isolation and closures are I hope they remain in place until things are actually safe.
One thing that's clear to me is how interconnected we all are even at a time of isolation. We are all deeply reliant on delivery people, cashiers, postal workers, trash collectors - people we often overlook. These people are doing dangerous work these days and are worthy of kindness and compassion now more than ever. (Of course we all are worthy of that even in the best of times.)
Anyway, I paid for the next month of dance class and I'll continue to do so. I'll do my best to tip my delivery person better than usual tonight. And I sent my kids' teachers a note telling them how much we missed and appreciated them. It is the absolute least I can do - I'll try to do better tomorrow.