Shipwrecks and Ships

A pandemic, a motel without power and a potentially terrifying glimpse of Orlando’s future:

“The motel she called “hell on earth” and “this malnourished place” had been her home for the past nine months.”

I don’t know how much time you’ve spent in American motels. Not too much, I hope. My first taste of America was a motel in Kalamazoo. Bullethole in the door, sink full of blood. When wife and I bought our house in Sac, we then holed up in a motel on Jibboom Street, a sort of motel district off a California freeway.

In tough times, the motels degenerated into shelters of last resort in a city where low-income housing shortages were among the most severe in the nation and the social safety net was collapsing. Now they were fast becoming places where it was possible to glimpse what a complete social and economic collapse might look like in America.

There, we waited and hoped for the deal to close — not really sure it would close or what happened next if it didn’t. It was just fucked up. You live and eat out of a gas station. You can’t go anywhere if you don’t have a car. (We didn’t.) It’s quarantine in a really bad spot. Dangerous places. Someone was pistol whipped and robbed in the room next to ours in the week after we left the motel and the week we left Sacramento, someone was murdered there. These are not places you ever want to be. Now, less than ever. It’s a fucking shipwreck.

Of course, for some, even a shipwreck might be better than the ship.

Trapped by Pandemic, Ships’ Crews Fight Exhaustion and Despair:

“This floating population, many of which have been at sea for over a year, are reaching the end of their tether,” Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, which represents shipowners, said on Friday. “If governments do not act quickly and decisively to facilitate the transfer of crews and ease restrictions around air travel, we face the very real situation of a slowdown in global trade.”

A lot of the people working on ships are now just stuck on these ships, doing dangerous jobs while exhausted. They’re working beyond their contracts and they’re worn out.

You could look at a lot of sectors of society right now and see the same story, I think. Teachers, students, front-line medical workers, grocery stores, retail, essential services, and service sectors. The SS Ralph’s. You’re either exhausted and depressed on the ship or you’re in the shipwreck. Choose until exhaustion chooses for you.


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