34. Tikking time bomb

Wednesday May 27 2020

We’ve now surpassed 100,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States. Today’s milestone.

If Murder Hornets aren’t enough to have a guest role in your nightmares, then we’ve got something else in social media that will take away the purest of our joys.

Videos are being shared, I think it’s a Tik Tok challenge, of what happens when you soak fresh strawberries in salted tap water. I can guess how this discovery came about; prolly just an everyday cleaning process for produce brought home from the market. But then someone noticed that the salt water encouraged the insects living on the fruit to leave their posts.

So, the big news is there are live bugs on strawberries and people are losing their collective minds. A lot of WTF’s and gross and prehistoric creatures and never eat those again kinda comments in the videos, of course.

I have four thoughts about this distraction to the flaming dumpster fire that is our lives right now. I started with two thoughts, but the more I wrote, the more pissed off I got.

  1. My first thought is holy cats, people. Y’all are going on like you uncovered a secret. It’s produce. Of course there are tiny and microscopic beings living on your strawberries. If allowed to grow up, that tiny worm you see squiggling will turn into a six-legged insect as per nature’s protocol, and then mate up and make more bugs. That’s how these things work. You eat little bugs all the effing time. Rinse your produce really well and you’ll dislodge the biggest of the otherwise protein-packed buggers.
  2. Residual pesticides on your produce are a much bigger concern. Bugs don’t give you cancer. Unless they’re coated with insecticide chemicals.
  3. The posters of the videos all seem to be under thirty years old. They’ve never weeded a vegetable garden and it shows.
  4. And finally, I’m so sick of hearing about the Farm to Table movement when the newest adult generation doesn’t even know what that means. The strawberry has been through quite a process before it was covered in plastic wrap and placed on the shelf at the grocery. It should not be a surprise that microbe-infused soil had a lot to do with its success.     

I’d like to say I didn’t watch any of the videos, but curiosity had its hand in the small of my back, pushing into this really bad decision. So, yeah. Apparently, there’s a big difference between awareness and seeing the proof for yourself.  

Right. So there’s that.

You know what else is all over the internet today? Two different cases of racial injustice; white vs. black, because why change now. One cringe-worthy encounter that enforces the concept of white privilege. The other one is worse. So much worse.

The first one that hit my newsfeed was a woman in New York City’s Central Park who called the police on a black guy who asked her to leash her dog, a request supported by the local leash law. A one-liner story at first appearances. I watched this video, too, and was actually more dismayed and disgusted than the strawberry one. I then read through a few articles on this, with the media only feeding us the primary spin of white privilege. I’m purposely not using the individual’s names, because enough media attention already.

So sure, it’s true her dog was off leash and he asked her to please connect the leash as per New York City law. He admitted he offered the dog a treat, because he keeps treats in his pockets for such encounters. (Maybe he’s had a history with loose aggressive dogs?) This interaction wasn’t captured in the video; the footage started after her escalating wig-flipping behavior later showed up. In the video, she holds the dog, a cocker spaniel looking fellow, by the collar. The dog’s front feet are off the ground as she moves erratically towards, than back away from the man. She’s going to call the police, she says, and report an African-American is recording her and threatening her life and her dog. Do what you need to do, he says. She indeed does, repeating the statement to the 911 dispatcher several times before finally shrieking it into her phone and ending the call. Thank you, he says. During this call, her dog is having his own little anxiety attack and at one point shrieks in pain as his collar is twisted during his flailing about.

After we’ve all formed our opinions based on our media-induced first impressions, more information is presented. The gentleman is an avid birder and on the NYC Audubon Society board; he’s bird-watching in the park. She’s a vice president with a well-known financial firm. The results of this viral video encounter is that he is vilified as the reluctant hero and she lost both her prestigious job and her dog. She voluntarily surrendered the dog she had for the last two years back to the rescue group she adopted from. Her job loss was not voluntary.

Alternatively, without the video the gentleman would have been at a disadvantage. A black man accused of an assault against a white woman is a man who is guilty of something. This is our culture and we have a long racially biased history to support this sentiment. Due to Trial by Twitter, her life is now an awful mess and probably more so than she deserves, really. But she was prepared to throw this guy under the bus because 1) she had the power and 2) he wasn’t worth her caring about.

Racially motivated, you ask? Change the characters. What if it was an older black woman who asks her to leash her dog? Or a middle-aged white guy asks a young Hispanic woman who is dog-sitting for a friend?  What if the dog wasn’t a fluffy cocker spaniel, but a bully breed? How about a young white woman who emerges from bird-watching in the bushes to encounter a black guy, pants lowered to his hips, with a cane corso dog who’s running around off-leash? Think these through and let me know who has the power in each situation when a phone call is made to 911.  

I know there’s more to the story, but we’d have to have more intel than the media is offering. Watching her behavior in the video, she’s clearly anxious about the situation and I have to wonder what the trigger was for her. She and the gentleman were alone in this section of the park; both apparently felt they could be victims and for totally different reasons. Was it when the man offered a treat to her dog, an act she later said in a statement she felt could be poisoned? Or was it what everyone seems to be saying in social media? That a black man confronts a white woman, asks her to leash her dog, and she moves the situation in a very wrong direction just to punish him for making her fearful?

As someone who manages anxiety every day, I understand what it is to spiral and say things that I don’t mean. A full-blown anxiety attack is much like an out of body experience as you witness yourself from outside doing things out of character.

Still.

I can’t understand the actions of this highly educated and successful woman. The waters of racism run deep with her. Whatever it was that happened before her 911 call couldn’t have possibly justified the action she took. She knew what she was doing when she exerted her power.

And by the way, I’m ok with a cease and desist on referring to this type of white woman as Karen. Can this stop now, please? And stop calling referring to yourself as color-blind, white people. We need to embrace the differences, whether it’s regional, cultural, or the weird stuff only your kin does.  

A second by the way; the fellow in this story is pleading with everyone to stop threatening the woman. Because he’s a decent person. And that’s what he’s choosing to do with his new power.

Do good and avoid evil.

The second news story comes from Minneapolis involving an arrest of a black man accused of resisting arrest. An officer has the man on the ground, his knee pushing down on the back of this guy’s neck. The man, handcuffed and unresisting, is heard on the video gasping that he can’t breathe. The black guy dies. The cops are fired. The riots have begun.

What was he arrested for? Did he really resist? Why the knee in the neck of a handcuffed man?

It’s not as easy to find these details, but do we need them to ask the questions? Can we agree that no person deserves to die pressed against the black-walled tire of a police car, with a cop’s knee blocking your breathing until you can’t inhale one more time. That’s fucked up, people, wherever you hail from.

I’ve said this before. COVID-19 has our attention. But it’s not stopping all the other bad stuff from happening at the same time.

We still have the “normal” flu, illnesses, racism, cancer, accidents, poverty, disabilities, hard drive crashes, vet bills, aging parents, and burnt dinners.

Adulting is hard. It’s harder when a pandemic is hanging over your head like a lowering pendulum.

Let’s treat each other with respect. At least until presented otherwise by the obligatory a-hole. Then use your powers to spread the good.

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