To whom it may concern:

I wanted to say this in person, but this whole social distancing thing makes that impossible. So I decided to write you a letter. I won’t take up too much of your time.

I just wanted to say that I’ve been so moved by the work you’re doing lately. During this whole coronavirus thing you’ve really gone the extra mile. I wish I could write each one of you. Sadly, there are bajillions of you, and only one of me. So this will have to do.

Anyway, you don’t know me. I’m one of the faceless Americans you’ve been helping when you wake up every morning and do what you do.

Yesterday, for instance, I saw you through the burger-joint window, manning the grill. You wore a surgical mask and latex gloves. You had a line of to-go orders a mile long. Cars were lined up in the drive-thru lane stretching back to Bangladesh. You just did your job.

This letter is for you, and your fellow cooks,

cashiers, and even your grumpy manager, Kate, who made you work last Fourth of July because she is about as much fun as getting slapped with a spatula.

Also, to the woman who wrote to me yesterday whose daughter is a nurse, treating people with COVID-19 in New York. Even though her daughter is young and healthy, she puts herself on the front lines every day.

This is written to hospital custodial workers who clean every inch of every surface. Even the ceilings. To the cafeteria workers. The greeters. The security guards. Maintenance men. Triage. ICU. X-ray techs.

To the guy who drives our local UPS delivery truck. That guy is my hero. Every day he’s making deliveries around town. It makes me wonder how many hundreds of millions of gazillions of people are working every day, packaging boxes, loading trucks, driving forklifts, fulfilling online orders, and…

It was an uneventful morning. I woke up to find the house was still intact. No toilets spontaneously overflowed overnight. No major appliances exploded.

No, this morning everything was A-okay. The sun was shining. Birds were chirping. So I did what lots of men do during a quarantine. Namely, I went to the front yard and I sat on a ratty easy chair that our garbage man forgot to pick up.

Previously, the chair had been rotting in our garage. So I put it in the driveway where it became home to many upstanding local feral cats. For the quarantine, I drug this chair into my front yard and started sitting in it. That’s where I am right now.

I am wearing plaid pajamas, bare feet, messy hair, drinking coffee, waving at cars from my easy chair.

I don’t even bother getting out of my pajamas anymore. I’ve been wearing these things for almost a month now. I just don’t see the point of getting gussied up. Or flossing.

This is how I spend

my days. I just pretty much sit outside on a torn up piece of furniture tapping on my laptop. I take breaks, I look at trees, I wave at my neighbors who sort of edge back inside whenever they see me reclining on my landfill-style barcalounger.

NEIGHBOR: Our weird neighbor is sitting in that godforsaken chair again.

NEIGHBOR’S SPOUSE: I feel sorry for his wife.

Occasionally, I crack open a can of flavored sparkling water. I have really gotten into the sparkling water lately. My wife buys them. They are great. They have no sugar and no nutritional value whatsoever. This means you can drink several thousand of them.

But you have to be careful because I read an article this morning which states that the leading cause of spontaneous bodily explosions can be traced back to carbonated beverages.

But enough about that. I’ve been sitting…

This morning, someone delivered groceries to Miss Wanda’s house on her porch. It is the 43rd day of Miss Wanda’s quarantine, and she already has plenty of groceries. The bags arrived unexpectedly. There was a note attached: “To Wanda, with hugs and kisses.”

Wanda is 93 years old. She has no idea who left the groceries. Or why. But when it was done, Wanda says she and her nurse were looking around for hidden cameras.

“We thought it was some kinda joke,” Wanda said.

Her nurse wiped down every item—even the Raisinettes and the Milk Duds—with bleach and rubbing alcohol.

“I like Raisinettes,” said Wanda. “But they’re too hard to chew. Milk Duds are pretty good, though.”

Sometimes I wonder what gets into people. What makes them do nice things? I have met some pretty good eggs in my time. Good people who had nothing to gain from being nice and yet, somehow, they still were. Why? That’s what I’ve been asking myself all day since I heard about Wanda. Why?

Take me, for

instance. Occasionally I do major selfless acts. Like selflessly leaving the peanut butter and jelly jars on the counter with the lids off after I make a sandwich. Just in case someone wants to use them later. I even leave the knife in the jar.

Or, for example, when there is only one biscuit left at the supper table. I am moved with compassion to do the selfless thing. This is because of something my mother always said when I was a kid: “Do not ever take the last biscuit or I will stab you with salad tongs.”

So I never take the last biscuit. In fact, I wouldn’t dream of it. I simply take three quarters of the last biscuit.

I know you are probably thinking I am too self-sacrificing, but I do it for love.

Even so, I have known some gracious people who…

My earliest memory is of a record player. It sat in my mother’s bedroom. Sometimes, she would play records for me.

In one particular memory, she holds me in her arms and we dance to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. The tune is “Girl from Ipanema.”

Then, she turns off Herb. She puts on another record. It is a childhood favorite. The album is Walt Disney World’s Country Bear Jamboree. The sound of a fiddle fills the room.

Mother and I have a Disney-style hoedown.

I don’t know how I remember this, but I do. Just like I remember Mary Ann Andrews, who once kidnapped my Teddy bear. The bear she stole was the guitarist for the Country Bears Jamboree band, Big Al.

Mary Ann’s family moved to Texas, and she took Big Al with her. I was heartbroken.

My mother wrote Mary’s family a letter, threatening legal action if Big Al was not returned unharmed. In a few weeks, Big Al arrived in our mailbox and my mother agreed not to press charges.

I still

have that stuffed bear today. In fact, he sits above my desk because I was raised on golden-era Disney classics, and I would not want to live in a world without Big Al.

Anyway, my wife and I went to a concert a few months ago—seems like years ago now. It was supposed to be fun, but it left me feeling empty. A few guys onstage attempted to see how loud they could crank their amplifiers while having grand mal seizures.

We were with friends who were younger than us. I don’t know how many concerts you’ve seen lately, but young people don’t actually watch live bands anymore. They point cellphone cameras at the stage and look at their phones instead.

Halfway through the concert, I was ready to leave.

I’d rather suffer gout than listen to music that sounds like major road…

Day 30 of our quarantine. I am going for a walk to ease my cabin fever. I see a woman walking her dogs. Two schnauzers. She wears a white mask. She is talking, holding a smartphone, doing a video call.

When we pass each other, I step to the other side of the street. I don’t want to violate the eight-foot social-distancing rule, which clearly states: “Back the heck off, buddy, I have mace.”

Some kids who pass us on bicycles. They definitely aren’t following the eight-foot rule. They aren’t even following the eight-centimeter rule. They are traveling maybe 150 miles per hour.

They brush past us so closely that I can smell their little-boy stink. One kid almost knocks the woman over. She drops her phone and cusses.

I am tempted to raise my fists and shout, “You dang kids!” But I can’t. Because a long time ago, I took a solemn vow to never say this phrase against my own kind.

When I was a kid, old man Jensen used to have

a sign in his front yard that read: “KEEP OFF LAWN.” He didn’t want anyone touching his grass. He was very particular about his centipede grass, always out there primping it, fertilizing it, reading bedtime stories to it, burping it. To us kids, however, his lawn was perfect for bicycle croquet.

Old man Jensen would come barreling out of his door, trousers pulled up to his nipples, horn rimmed glasses, shaking his fists. “You dang kids!” he’d shout. And if he saw his shadow, it was six more weeks of winter.

The woman in the mask is really upset. She says me in a muffled voice, “Did you see those little [bad words]?”

“Yeah,” I say. “I can’t believe they’re acting so irresponsible.”

And this is what the lady shouts next—I am not making this up. “You dang kids!”

And just like that, old man Jensen…

I have here a letter from a young man who I will call David. David is feeling isolated due to the coronavirus quarantine. He writes:

“Hey Sean, I see all these people doing Zoom calls and Face-timing and stuff, and nobody wants to do a video chat with me or whatever. I’m realizing how truly alone I am.

“Since my school cancelled I have been social distancing and you know how everybody’s always saying it’s so hard and how they miss their friends and stuff? Well, I’m not trying to make you feel sorry for me, it’s just hard because I don’t think anybody’s worried about me.”

David, you don’t have to tell me about having no friends. I understand this issue all too well. Probably everyone reading this understands you, too.

Personally, I’ve been through many different friend-phases of life. I’ve been through a phase where I had no pals. I’ve also been through phases when I had buddies crawling out of the cracks, always wanting to borrow 200 bucks.

Friends always want to borrow 200 bucks. I

know you think it’s glamorous to have lots of friends, but it’s actually pretty expensive, and non-tax-deductible. When you have tons of friends you are bound to have many who are flat broke.

FRIEND: I’m broke.

YOU: How broke?

FRIEND: For dinner my family goes to KFC to lick other people’s fingers. Can I have 200 bucks?

So we can see that having too many friends is not necessarily a blessing.

I am not making the following anecdote up when I tell you that I was once at a casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, celebrating a friend’s birthday when THIS SAME friend looked at me and said, “I can’t afford to pay my rent this month.”

This was said during the exact moment I was breaking the leg off an Alaskan snow crab that was the size of a Buick Roadmaster on…

Day 27 of our quarantine. We have not left the house in almost a month. Things are starting to get monotonous. Not in the way I thought they would.

But do you know what’s funny? My dogs are doing just fine. They aren’t even suffering. Life hasn’t changed much for them. They still chase cats. They still eat random piles of cat poop. They still take time out of their busy schedules to pee on important trees.

We have lots of local feral cats, and whenever my dogs see a cat, they bolt after it, howling, kicking up dirt clods behind their back feet. Even if you happen to be holding the leash.

My dogs never catch these cats, but they never give up either. And I admire this. Sometimes I wonder if dogs aren’t smarter than we are.

So it’s not that I have cabin fever—though I do—it’s more than that. It’s that I am going out of my freaking mind. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not Joe Extrovert, I am definitely the kind of guy

who could lock himself in a room and read books until his 80th birthday.

And I don’t mean good books, either. I’m talking about books that cost a buck from the drugstore clearance bin. Books like, “Cowboys and Vampires Break the Davinci Code While Losing 30 Pounds with Suzanne Somers!”

For 27 days, I’ve read enough cheap drugstore books to sink the U.S.S. Wisconsin. Also, I’ve been piddling a lot. Piddling is a lost art, but I’ve found that I’m pretty good at it.

I can putter around the house, doing ridiculous tasks with the same level of importance you’d use to perform neural surgery. I cleaned my workbench, for instance. I tested a few cordless drill batteries. I spent an hour separating bolts from screws, then tossed them all back together again. I took down the Christmas lights. I finally got around to…