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Social Commentary

Watering Hole

Bar and Grill Parking Lot, March 13, 2020.

By last Friday traffic in bars, coffee shops and restaurants had slowed considerably. It was hard to determine whether it was because of the coronavirus, spring break at the university, or something else.

It made being a guest at the establishments a positive experience with little perceived danger of the virus being transmitted.

Our county now has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, 14 of 18 as of this morning. The high number is attributable to a local bank trip to Egypt where returning travelers were exposed to the coronavirus and contracted COVID-19.

The parking lot was packed at a bar and grill on Friday afternoon. From the look of things, it was a popular watering hole for trades workers. When my friend and I entered, every man was seated on a stool around the U-shaped bar drinking beverages, looking at their mobile devices, and talking with neighbors. The bartender was the only woman present. The rest of the bar was empty.

We ordered drafts of Bud Light so as to fit in and chose a table away from the bar.

What speech I made with a friend was not my normal one. The one I know by rote and by heart. The theme that never changes, come what may, “Radix malorum est cupiditas.”

It’s not that the worn phrase has no currency. Many are the emails from political candidates who say we must overturn Citizen’s United, then, in direct order, request a donation. The old saw still cuts wood. This prologue has never been in abeyance or irrelevant despite the waxing and waning of political candidates and their ilk. What’s hard is to listen.

What did I hear? Murmuration among the tradesmen making sense of their lives in a pandemic they hardly acknowledged. Individuals all. Resolute. Of strict father figure families no doubt. Gathered together around the bar in between a career that requires a pickup truck and a home that remained unseen that afternoon.

When we finished our beers and left, most were still present and would be until either the happy hour ended or home beckoned. It was hard to discern, but I suspect the watering hole was the best part of many of their days. So it was for mine.

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