Lately I’ve been receiving my share of emails from people who don’t have many nice things to say. Today I received more of these messages than usual. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just one of those days.
I suppose since lots of people have been quarantining for well over 40 days now, folks are feeling kind of—and I’m sorry, but don’t know how else to put this—crotchety.
This is what my mother used to say when I would wake up in a bad moods. Crotchety. I was notorious for waking up in bad moods. I am what you’d call a Slow Waker Upper. I have NEVER crawled out of bed feeling like a million bucks.
In the mornings before school, my mother would always remind me, “Don’t be crotchety.” And she would say this in the same low-pitched tone that lions use when they eat the hindquarters of various antelopes.
The latest crotchety email was from a man in West Virginia, who wrote: “I don’t get why you’re so obsessed with telling us about your dogs.”
Then there was the sunny message from a guy in Tampa: “How disappointing, Sean. I thought you wrote about more relevant matters, who gives a [bleep] about baseball at a time like this? Really?”
But my favorite message was the one that came to me in all caps this morning. It went like this: “WHY DON’T YOU EVER WRITE ABOUT MICHIGAN!? YOU’VE WRITTEN ABOUT EVERYWHERE ELSE… WHAT DO YOU HAVE AGAINST US?”
Let me state, for the record, I have nothing against Michiganites (Michigonians? Michigaintiles? Michigan Terriers?)
Actually, I like Michigan. The first time I visited Detroit, my Michigan friends were warning me that traffic was very dangerous. At first, I was inclined to believe them because—this is true—10 minutes after I exited the airport, my taxi got into a car accident. But the cab driver assured me that auto accidents were very rare in Detroit.
In the end, I had the time of my life in Motown. The highlight of the trip was the Detroit Historical Museum. I got stranded there one afternoon when my cousin got into a car wreck coming to pick me up.
So the writer of this letter is wrong about me. I like Michigan as much as the next guy. Furthermore, he’s also wrong when he says I have written about “everywhere else.” I haven’t even BEEN everywhere else.
For example, I’ve never written about California. Primarily, because I haven’t visited California since I was six years old. I don’t remember anything about the trip except my uncle taking me to a theme park featuring a motion-sickness inducing ride called the “teacups.” This ride could have been used as a torture apparatus on one of those spy movies.
SPY 1: So, he won’t talk, eh? Take him to the Teacups of Death.
SPY 2: No! Please! Anything but those!
SPY 1: Then take him to Detroit at rush hour.
I guess the reason for all the ugly emails I’ve been getting is that people are pent up. Forty days of quarantining can make a body fragile. Patience is wearing thin. The sounds of everyone’s own televisions are driving them nuts.
But I would like to point out, there’s no need to be nasty.
After all, there are some cool things happening in the world. There are many people who are taking their pent-up energy and doing something beautiful with it instead of sending disagreeable emails.
I have here an article sent to me by a man named Fred, in Florida. The article is about a group of factory workers in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, who have been living inside a factory for 28 days, manufacturing a COVID-19 resistant material used in hospitals.
More than 40 workers from the Braskem America Company, locked themselves in a plant and slaved to manufacture N95, which is a material used to make masks, sanitary wipes, and hospital gowns. The product protects medical workers and it’s in high demand right now.
For a month, the workers have produced this stuff by the metric ton. To get this done they have eaten, slept, shaved, showered, and lived in a fluorescent-lit industrial nightmare. They worked 12-hour shifts, around the clock. The only contact with the outside world was the occasional drive-by from a family member.
Yesterday morning, the workers finally clocked out after roughly 672 hours. They wrapped their arms around family members, and I understand that the only dry eyes in the county were made of glass.
The 40 workers have all been given pay raises.
I’d also like to tell you about Allen Marshal. He stood on the street corner near his local Exxon gas station a few weeks ago, holding a cardboard sign which read: “Free Gas For Nurses.”
He waved his sign at passing motorists. And people responded. Allen filled the gas tanks of about 60 vehicles who were brave enough to take him up on his offer. He spent 900 bucks from his savings account.
The idea started on a whim, and in no time he had drained all his money. When he ran out of cash, a complete stranger stepped in and began donating her money to fill even more tanks.
When asked about his reason for doing this for so many medical workers, Allen answered, “I just love them, and I want them to know that.”
In other words, something beautiful happened. And the best part is, Allen Marshal lives in Detroit. Which just happens to be located in a state I completely adore.
Don’t be crotchety.