COVID-19 can’t change human nature. Social life will survive.
“Everybody has got to die, but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case.” — William Saroyan
Bingo is Cancelled
Bingo, that game of chance long adored by retirees and the over-something set, isn’t taking place during the COVID-19 outbreak, amid the almost complete shut-down of daily life that has accompanied it.
Community centers and bingo halls are dark, as are major sporting events, concerts, malls, cruise ships, workplaces, and a great many other facets formerly ubiquitous to everyday American life.
Some may recover, in time. Some might be gone forever.
A few of the things we might not be seeing again are family-style buffet restaurants, grocery store salad bars, and self-service condiments at restaurants. Alas, no more free samples at the super-market. Pot-lucks might be viewed with a bit more skepticism in future, too.
After COVID-19, shoppers might be a bit more disinclined to try communal testers, and any other product samples left out for a great many people to touch. And touch.
Cruise ships, those great floating, pollution-strewing cesspools of food borne illnesses and gastrointestinal distress, might become a thing of the past. So too some community swimming pools.
This outbreak of COVID-19 will play a part in future decisions about what people do during their leisure time and how many people they are willing to do it with.
Large concerts, expos and sporting events in arenas seating 20,000 people will certainly suffer- at least in the short term. When deciding whether or not to allocate limited family resources to these events, even provided the economy recovers, the exposure to so many potentially infected persons will likely sway more than a few to just watch at home. Much cheaper anyway.
Many industries will be hurt by COVID-19; some may never recover. On the other hand, some will.
Bingo Will Be Back
Some facets of modern life will likely continue to suffer in the months to come. But people won’t be willing to forego their jobs, schools, interests, activities or their daily habits, like going to the gym or playing bingo, forever.
Of course elderly people and others with underlying health conditions would be better off staying at home during the COVID-19 outbreak, however long that proves to be.
But elderly people and people with compromised immune systems would be better off staying home every year during flu season, seeing as few people as possible.
Most of us would.
The death toll from COVID-19 in the U.S. is approaching 500; car crashes kill that many every few days. Elderly and immune-compromised people are especially vulnerable to car crashes, too; even minor injuries sustained in a wreck can kill a person whose health is already fragile.
Yet we all continue to drive day in and day out; young and old, healthy and infirm. Even knowing we now share the road with inattentive drivers constantly fixated on their phones.
Why? Human nature.
We are accustomed to risk. Performing your basic cost-benefit analysis is something people do many times a day, every single day.
Our lives are a constant chain of calculated risks; and we get it wrong all the time. Sometimes even the best of us takes stupid chances because we overestimate ourselves, underestimate the risk, or fail to understand how much our actions might impact others.
Besides the dangers of driving, every single day we choose to leave the house while not enclosed in a hermetically sealed plastic bubble to protect us from whatever noxious elements our fellow humans might be capable of transmitting, is a risky one.
Lyme disease, carried by ticks, is a life-altering and incurable affliction; people aren’t willing to stay inside to avoid ticks.
We still go on hikes, drive, go to church, go to restaurants, go to choir practice or community theatre rehearsals. We go to casinos, go skiing, indulge in potato salad at an outdoor potluck, eat food prepared by bored, poorly supervised teenagers making minimum wage.
Of course people will still go to the casino. People who go to casinos are already feeling overly-optimistic. Of course they think they can beat the coronavirus; they think a casino is going to give them money.
People will still do these things for the same reasons they do them now: Because we want to. And because a life without our hobbies and interests, our pursuits and our passions- no matter how long or healthy, wouldn’t be worth preserving in a bubble.
Older or chronically infirm people aren’t always made more cautious by their relative fragility, either. On the contrary. Many people who have been seriously ill feel more determined than ever to enjoy themselves to the fullest while they can.
Because William Saroyan was wrong, of course; An exception wasn’t made in his case and he departed this earth in 1981 at the age of 72.
The rest of us, from the partying Spring Break college kids to the obstinate golden-agers who refuse to surrender their leisure activities, are wrong too; we aren’t immortal. We too will die.
But first, we will bingo.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)