Kicking Against the Pathogen

April 24. It takes a while to get it started but it still runs pretty good. Pathogen world. Pathogen apathy. The Great Pandemic. It must be great because it’s not small. I don’t have two words to say about it anymore. We went out driving again not because something was pressing but to get out of here and do something. Target: “London Drugs”. The new one up there in old Dunbar. They had no product but that really didn’t matter. We drove.

I have no idea now what I’m doing here. Major rethink. My problem is this was the only idea I had. If I’ve lost interest how are others supposed to feel?  Am I supposed to be satisfied with that? I’d rather just sit here like a blob and have another coffee.

This is what the pathogen reduces me to. But there’ll be no surrender even if I turn into an amorphous mass of goo. I’ve got a bad taste in my mind. Wash hands frequently. You don’t know where they’ve been. I get that. I do that. The emotions are sloshing around. Look at them in there. Sloshing around. They’re not supposed to be all over the place like that. Hey! Straighten up! Get hold of yourselves! We’re going to win this fight!

They’re going to make a decision on bringing the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier captain back, restoring him to duty, the one who was canned for going outside normal communication protocols to let people know his ship was basically on fire with the pathogen.

That’s an interesting idea. I think the navy now understands that the sense of alarm he had about the seriousness of his situation and the responses he was receiving caused him to believe his duty was to be a little over the top to get his superiors to fully appreciate the threat to readiness.  The captain was clearly fulfilling his duty to his crew, his ship and the navy as well as the country and the error is on the navy, not him. Is that it? It sounds so American. And the navy is big enough to realize its error.  The guy that canned him, a presidential appointee, was canned himself.  There’s a kind of poetry.  There really is.

I love aircraft carriers. I’ve always wanted one. Somehow models don’t quite cut it. I want a real aircraft carrier. I don’t need the planes or helicopters and they can take all the guns and stuff off and get rid of the nuclear reactor. It’s just the thought of having that big old aircraft carrier in my backyard. I’d cut a couple of holes in the hull so we can step right in off the grass and start having a look around. That would be so cool.


Saturday.  Long hike into deepest Shaughnessy.  Exercise exploit.  Just on the way in I pass with plenty of clearance a young man coming the other way pushing a baby carriage down the sidewalk. He is tall, fit-looking and wearing a dark jacket, jeans and sporting a ball cap with some logo on it I don’t recognize. I decide to overcome my new tendency to self-isolation  and say, “Hello.”

“Erghhh,” he goes, eyes straight ahead as he passes. The brother is stressed is my immediate reaction. Maybe this guy’s an athlete out of a job. I don’t recognize him but he doesn’t recognize me either so that makes us even.

I pass Devonshire Park. I’m impressed with myself for remembering the name because it’s one of these parks that gives no indication anywhere that it has any sort of name at all. You have to keep your wits about you in Shaughnessy and that’s something else I’d remembered.

I was poised for action on these hallowed streets but nothing was happening. The only movement anywhere was the occasional vagrant slave worker at some reno or new-build site of which there are a number just in the area I was covering. It’s so quiet you can hear a guy with a hammer a block away.

There’s a lot of trees in Shaughnessy and a lot of houses and all of the houses are large and most of them look new or recently reno-ed and almost all of them look good. They’re nice jobs, most of them in the craftsman style, painted in traditional colours.


It’s only the trees that look old. They tower over the streets and sidewalks and are coming into leaf and blotting out the sun. The neighbourhood didn’t look a lot different 100 years ago.

I get a bit turned around because when you start taking some of the crescents and their confusing arcs unless you’re really an old stager around here, which I’m not, that can happen. And if it’s not happening you just say to yourself I’m going to make it happen because this pathogen nonsense is consuming my soul and I want to get lost. I want the thrill without the danger. There’s no bears and if I get scared I can just start crying or scream blue murder and somebody’s bound to notice and save me, right?

I curve around and see a street obviously busier than any other around here, it’s a main street and suddenly I’m having the delightful sensation of not knowing what street that is ahead out there in the world. What street is it? Because from what I can see it doesn’t look like Granville Street and I thought that if I was inching towards any main street it’d be Granville Street. I’m off my nut. Finally I realize what street it is. I’ve been going in the opposite direction to what I’d imagined. Delirious with joy I turn and head homeward. A home is a nice thing to have.

April 27.  As fine a spring afternoon as anyone could wish.  We find Granville Island without too much trouble and it is its usual peaceful state these days with minimal foot traffic. Most businesses in the market have remained open except for the food court.  The shop keepers have struggled through a decrease in business but I think they’re glad to be open and we’re glad to have them.  Hand sanitizing stations are just inside the entrances.  The donut shop having undergone a recent renovation seems to be doing a roaring trade, customers lined up eight or ten or more keeping their six foot interval all the way outside under the canopy.  I don’t think business has ever been better.




Author: Steven Brown


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