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Living in Society

Holding Pattern

Turn around at Lake Macbride State Park, Saturday, Sept. 26.

While waiting for Joe Biden’s first presidential debate my mind was not on politics. I was wondering what to do after the election.

I returned in memory to a trip I made to Philadelphia in September 2001 after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the day an airplane laden with terrorists and bystanders crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Passengers on my flight were few, with most seats open. The country was still in shock although I had business to attend. While driving to the Cedar Rapids airport I heard the president was also planning a trip to Philadelphia that morning, his first trip after the terrorist attacks.

Because of the president’s visit our aircraft entered a holding pattern as we approached Philadelphia. It lasted a long time, 45 minutes or so. When we were cleared for landing and did I entered a changed world, eerily quiet. I rented a car and drove to our operation on Grays Avenue. There were law enforcement officers on every corner. I encountered the Bush motorcade heading back to the airport on the opposite side of I-95. It was a turning point in my support for the president after the attacks.

The question I find myself asking today is similar to what I asked myself that grey day in Philadelphia. What will be next? An honest answer today is I don’t know. A lot depends upon the outcome of the Nov. 3 election.

Yesterday the other shoe fell as the Walt Disney Company announced layoffs for 28,000 workers in Florida and California. After cast members were on furlough for six months this is an unwelcome announcement. Airlines will soon follow suit with layoff announcements. Cruise ships haven’t figured out how to operate post-pandemic. People aren’t going to the movies as they did. Government has done a poor job of containing the coronavirus and people do not want to join the more than one million people world wide who died from COVID-19. Everyone is cautious and it is unclear if or when we will do things again that once seemed so normal. If the travel and entertainment industry can’t figure it out, there’s little hope for us until well into 2021 or maybe 2022.

In the meanwhile we are in survival mode, conserving resources and making do. Every extra cent from our pensions is used to pay down debt and keep our credit lines open. The August 10 derecho resulted in $1,200 in direct expenses for us. We got off easy compared to many. The unresolved stress of the elections works against our best intentions. It will be worse if Republicans win.

In all of this we must find hope enough to find our way out of the darkness while remembering the darkest hour is just before the dawn. It is hard to find hope when we’ve been up all night.

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