The Swine Flu (Potential) Pandemic of Aught-Nine: Day 1

Perhaps one day this will make me famous, and people will know what it was really like to be a middle-class white homeowner living in a temperate climate in first-world nation with time on her hands in the middle of the day and an IKEA kitchen catalog on her kitchen table during the Swine Flu (Potential) Pandemic of Aught-Nine. And perhaps I will be vilified by history for my flip remarks and uncaring attitude towards the tragedy surrounding me, just like we vilify Samuel Pepys and his cruel, brutal remarks about the Great Plague and Great Fire of 17th Century London. There’s a special place in hell for people like us: level 4.5, where the Pretentious are punished with Oblivion (right between the Slothful and the Covetous) by watching the WordPress Webmasters delete their accounts over and over again.

Luckily for Samuel Pepys, he wrote on paper.

I feel like I can be flip right now, even on the front lines of the Swine Flu (Potential) Pandemic of Aught-Nine, because I have all this glorious infrastructure surrounding me. Every single person who has caught the flu in San Diego County has recovered completely. We have teams to spare for tracking the disease, training hospitals, and helping Mexico do the same. We’ve got plenty of masks and food on our shelves in the city right now (although our household doesn’t really have its own disaster stash), and I work from home for companies in northern climes far away from the front lines. My family is healthy, and it would be pretty easy for me to stop taking Fella to preschool if they close the schools, and I have six tomato plants, a serrano chile plant, and basil and oregano and cilantro growing on my patio–what with the onion sprouts I’ve got in the kitchen, I don’t foresee ever running out of salsa. It’s springtime, so even if we lose power we aren’t going to freeze at night, and I just don’t see a run on the grocery store happening. If worse comes to worse, we’re only a mile’s walk from the local drinking water reservoir. I could totally bring my empty milk cartons there to fill up. Heck, I live far enough away from the shipyards that I’m not even afraid of a suitcase nuke!

I absolutely understand why this disease is a problem in Mexico, especially Mexico City. I am very glad that everyone is tracking this disease, and following it so closely. It would be a terrible thing if it ran rampant through that city, but even there its mortality rate is very low for healthy people who catch it. (Healthy people is the catch.) The real problem that my uneducated, speculative self can see is that it’s such a dense population with a lot of people around to act as incubators. No one wants a mutation, and the more cases that crop up the more likely it becomes. I’ve seen Outbreak. I’ve read The Stand. I know what a mutation can do, even before the Randall Flaggs arrive on the scene.

But hopefully the population density of my town is low enough, and my reasons to go out few enough, that even if the worst happens we can avoid it. The unluckiest people will be caught in the first wave, but if we are spared that, we can ride it out, I bet. Without having to eat the housecats. We aren’t planning on going to Disneyland until Christmas, either, and I’m sure that this will sort itself out well before then.

Thus comforted to my own satisfaction, I’ll take the presence of a mouse in my garage last night as less of an ill-omen (that thing totally tapped into my instinctive primate hatred of rodents and the hanta virus) and more of an indication that a four-inch space below my broken garage door lets critters in, and go change my wet, cold socks that had water poured on them from the overfull watering container I used to water my food supply. Lieutenant Dan was always adamant about keeping your feet dry, and now I know exactly why. I’m going to get through this thing with all my toes!

The CDC Update on US Cases of Swine Flu A (H1N1):

April 25, 2009, 11:00 AM EDT
California: 6 people, all recovered
Texas: 2 people, both recovered

7:30 PM EDT
California: 7 people
Texas: 2 people
Kansas: 2 people

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