A Much-Needed Change of Scenery

I don’t know about you, but I’m experiencing a serious case of cabin fever. I have good days and bad days, but today I’m restless and irritable. While I love where I live and where I work, and I realize I’m pretty stinkin’ lucky to have a job and a home to go to these days, I am heartily sick of these being the only windows I get to look out of.

I long to check into a hotel and gaze out a window upon heretofore unseen vistas. I want to peek into foreign apartments across cobblestone alleys. I want to be a voyeur. I want to see street life and identify new daily routines. I want to observe the comings and goings of people I do not know.

Travel always has been my reason for being, but COVID-19 has put paid to that. There are days when I feel like I’m in prison. Anybody who thinks that this new reality isn’t going to be with us for at least a few more years is deluded. So if I’m on the verge of pulling my hair out now, I can’t even imagine the creature who will be gazing back at me from the mirror 6, 8, or 10 months from now.

But there’s really no point in struggling against these shackles. They’re here to stay for the foreseeable future. But for now, at least, I refuse to completely give up and get fetal. No. I’ve still got an inner life, and it is still free to roam.

So imagine my utter joy when I heard about a website called window-swap.com. It’s a brilliant concept. People all over the world submit 10 minute videos of the view from their windows. It gives you a virtual change of scenery at the very least.

While writing this post, I have gazed at a courtyard in Milan, with a mesmerizing whirligig in the foreground. From there I went to Bangalore and watched two beautiful dogs wandering around on a lushly planted balcony while listening to cars tooting their horns and birds chirping their chirps. Then I went to Sauerland, Germany and watched the rain fall on a flowery back yard with a beautiful, elaborate outdoor fireplace. In Brooklyn, I had a stunning view of the Brooklyn Bridge, but that view was rivaled by another stunning water/bridge view in South Queensferry, Scotland.

I suspect that I’ll be visiting this site often. And although I am not very tech-savvy, I vow to figure out how to submit views of my own. Perhaps one from work of my gorgeous waterway when it’s busy with boat traffic, or one of my drawbridge opening, and maybe my back yard with my dogs running around. We’ll see.

This website can feel a little bittersweet. So many of us are relegated to one view right now, which can become monotonous even if that view is spectacular. Now, more than ever, the grass seems to be greener in other people’s yards, and window-swap is making it possible to see this for yourself.

It’s also a great source of comfort. It brings tears to my eyes. It’s a relief, seeing that there are still other places out there. On days like today, it’s helping me hang onto my sanity.

A view from Menorca Spain
A view from Menorca, Spain

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“I’ll Hold My Breath ‘Til I Turn BLUE!”

That is a threat that many a bratty child has made when things aren’t going the way they want. A savvy parent will let them do it. If the child actually has follow-through, at least the moments of unconsciousness will give the parent a bit of peace.

If only this type of self-destructive behavior were limited to children. It’s so incredibly counterproductive that one would think this instinct would be outgrown. But it’s becoming increasingly evident that that is not the case. There are a lot of stupid people in the world.

I am still completely stunned that mask-wearing in the time of a pandemic has become so politicized. There are those who feel that wearing a mask impinges on their freedoms. Which freedoms are those? The freedom to put your loved ones at risk right along with the rest of your community? Personally, that’s the last freedom on earth that I want. But then, I was taught to care about other people.

There are those who believe that COVID-19 is either a hoax or that it’s really not that big of a deal. I’m assuming that’s simply because they have yet to experience the death of someone close to them. But it will happen. It will happen to all of us sooner or later. As of this writing, 620,000 people in the world have died in this pandemic, and 5,000 people a day are afflicted with the virus. That we know of. Sooner or later, it’s going to be impossible to ignore.

It defies logic not to wear a mask. Even if you only think this virus is a remote possibility, don’t you care about others enough to want to protect them from even the most remote of possibilities of death? Don’t you want this pandemic to get under control so that others won’t have to wear a mask, too? How can you be so selfish?

If your behavior only affected you, I’d say, “Yeah, go ahead. Don’t wear a mask. Hold your breath until you turn blue.”

But the problem is that you’re making everyone around you turn blue, too. That’s not only childish, it’s psychopathic. Shame on you.

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The First “Un-iversary” of My Little Free Library

On July 24, 2019, with the help of my husband, I fulfilled a dream that I had had for many years. I was able to place a little free library in front of my house. It was an exciting moment, because books mean a great deal to me, and literacy means even more. By providing this service, I felt as though I was doing something very significant for my community.

For the uninitiated, little free libraries are boxes placed in communities and filled with books. You take a book, but you don’t necessarily have to return it (which is often the case in my library). You can also donate books for others to enjoy.

These libraries are great for those who don’t have the time or ability to go to a public library. They’re particularly effective in areas of high foot traffic. In my neighborhood, they seem to be used most by parents who are taking their children for a walk. It’s hard to keep children’s books in my library. And that gratifies me a great deal, because children who read become adults who read, and adults who read are more intelligent, and develop the critical thinking skills that are necessary to have a positive impact on society at large.

I don’t think I quite realized how much fun I would have in this endeavor. We have no neighbors right next door. It’s not a pop-in-and-borrow-a-cup-of-sugar kind of community. So I wasn’t expecting this magical little box to do so much to make me feel connected to the people in my area.

Now, when people see me watering the plants in the front yard, they say hello. If they are walking down the street and they see me pulling out of my driveway, they point at the library and shout a thank you. I have a log book in my library, and they leave the most gratifying notes. They talk about how much they enjoyed this or that book. They ask for books of a certain genre, and I do my best for them. They tell me about the books they’ve donated. They thank me for being an easy source of reading material for people who don’t have cars and can’t easily get to the public library. All these things bring tears to my eyes.

Unfortunately, due to this pandemic, I felt it was necessary to temporarily shut down my library. I didn’t want to. I really struggled with the concept. But in the end, I knew that doing the responsible thing takes precedence over doing what feels good.

This, for me, has been the hardest part of this pandemic. And I’ve been told by more than one passerby that it has been hard for them, too. In fact, they have begged me to reopen.

So we’ve decided to do so on a trial basis, with certain precautions. We have added a bottle of hand sanitizer, and a sign asking patrons to use it before touching anything. We’ve also removed the logbook, pens, rubber duckies, and bookmark giveaways. This breaks our hearts, but safety first.

I worry about the health of everyone in the neighborhood, but as tensions and boredom and temperatures are rising, and morale is at an all time low, I feel as though our little library is needed now more than ever. I hope that all of us have learned enough about safe behavior during this pandemic to treat the library safely and responsibly.

So there you have it. Today was supposed to be an anniversary celebration. I was thinking balloons and bookmark giveaways and cookies and a table with an even wider selection of titles. Instead, it has turned into an un-iversary, because we were closed for about 1/4th of the year, and we really can’t have a big fete.

All of this has me longing for better, healthier days. But it reminds me that it really is possible to make a difference. And that, in these chaotic, unpredictable times, is something to hold onto.

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Ignaz Semmelweis and His Cadaverous Particles

On this day, 202 years ago (July 1, 1818). Ignaz Semmelweis was born in Budapest, Hungary. Because he was born, billions of us are alive to celebrate that fact. That makes it all the more astounding to me that maybe only one in 10,000 of us even know that he ever existed.

Semmelweis became a doctor in 1844, and specialized in obstetrics in Vienna. As the chief resident at the Vienna General Hospital, he began to notice something very strange and disturbing. There were two maternity clinics at the hospital, and women were dying 2 ½ times more often at one clinic than at the other.

These deaths were attributed to puerperal fever, or childbed fever, which had been around since the 1600’s. (It’s a horrible way to go, involving a great deal of pus. I’ll leave it at that.)

Women were more likely to survive if they gave birth in the street than if they went into the hospital. That reputation was not lost on the public, and women used to beg, on their knees, to be admitted to clinic 2, if they had to be admitted anywhere at all.

Why was this happening? No one knew. And that bothered Semmelweis more than a little.

He began comparing the two clinics, trying to determine the difference between them. The first, more deadly, clinic was staffed by medical students. The second was staffed by students of midwifery.

The second clinic was the more crowded of the two, so these deaths couldn’t be due to crowding. And the discrepancy had nothing to do with climate, because that was the same on both wards. For a time, he was even desperate enough to try to blame it on religious differences, but he got nowhere with that theory.

Then one day in 1847, Semmelweis’ good friend and colleague, Jakob Kolletschka died, and his autopsy showed that what killed him looked identical to puerperal fever. How was that possible? He had been accidentally cut by a med student’s scalpel during a post mortem exam, and he died not long thereafter. What did that have in common with childbirth?

That made Semmelweis realize another difference between the two clinics. The med students often would perform autopsies in the morning, and then interact with the pregnant women in the afternoon. The midwives, on the other hand, did not do autopsies. Semmelweis began to wonder if puerperal fever was the result of some kind of cadaverous particle that was being transferred from the corpses to the pregnant women via the medical students.

It is important to mention here that germ theory was not accepted in Vienna back then. No one understood the importance of sanitizing the wards or washing one’s hands. Women often lay on soiled bed sheets, and doctors would treat them while still wearing aprons bloodied by autopsies.

Semmelweis instituted a policy of washing one’s hands in chlorinated lime, mainly because he noticed that this removed the autopsy odor. No more putrid smell of infection. Perhaps this would remove the cadaverous particles, too.

Lo and behold, the mortality rate dropped by 90%, just like that. He set out to tell the medical world about this. You’d think a drastic reduction in deaths would have everyone jumping on the bandwagon right away, wouldn’t you?

But no. His theory was considered radical. How could a particle from a corpse turn you into a corpse? And it was an insult to doctors everywhere, who did not want to think of themselves as dirty.

Semmelweis’ breakthrough was ignored, rejected, or ridiculed by the medical community at large. During all this, and amidst a heaping helping of political turmoil, he was dismissed from his job and finally was so harassed that he moved back to Budapest.

He continued to achieve positive results everywhere he worked, and yet he was not taken seriously. This, understandably, did not sit well with Semmelweis. He began to fight back, by writing openly hostile letters to obstetricians, calling them irresponsible murderers. He fell into a depression and started drinking.

People began to think he was going nuts, and perhaps he was. In 1865 he was committed to a lunatic asylum after trying to convince people of his breakthrough, to no avail, for 20 years. How heavily it must have weighed on him, watching women die for entirely preventable reasons that whole time.

One of his friends lured him to the asylum under false pretexts. When he realized this, he tried to leave. He was severely beaten by the guards and thrown into a straitjacket. Two weeks later, he died of septic shock, most likely from the wounds he obtained during that beating. What a bitter irony. He was 47 years old.

It’s hard to believe that people were willing to overlook the fact that, after he left each one of his clinics, mortality rates skyrocketed again. A few decades later, Louis Pasteur further developed the germ theory of disease, finally explaining the actual science behind it, and people began to realize that perhaps Semmelweis had a point.

The home where Semmelweis was born in Budapest has now been converted into a museum and library to honor him. A university was named after him in the same city, as was a clinic in Vienna and a hospital in Hungary. His face is on an Austrian commemorative coin. A minor planet was named after him. He has his own Hungarian postage stamp. He has even become a Google Doodle.

Per Wikipedia, there’s a name for “a certain type of human behavior characterized by reflex-like rejection of new knowledge because it contradicts entrenched norms, beleifs, or paradigms.” It’s called the Semmelweis Reflex. How’s that for a legacy?

Anyway, I was thinking of this tragic man as I washed my hands for the umpteenth time today. How proud he would be of all of us who are continuing to battle against our current pandemic. How surprised he would be that so many people are turning those efforts political and resisting these efforts to save lives.

Next time you wash your hands, say, “Thank you, Ignaz Semmelweis!” He struggled his whole adult life to get us to see the importance of these things. Please don’t let his efforts be in vain.

Semmelweis_statue

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Let’s Hibernate

By now, this Shelter in Place/Quarantine/Lock Down, whatever you want to call it, is driving most of us up the wall. Fewer and fewer of us are complying, which makes it even more frustrating for the rest of us, because at this rate we’re never going to flatten the curve. If we don’t ensure the health of the more vulnerable amongst us, none of us will ever truly be safe.

I wish I could just go to sleep and wake up when all of this is over with. I wish I could hibernate like a bear in winter, or even better, Æstivate, which is a kind of hibernation during the hot months. That would be awesome. But then, sleep is one of my favorite things in the world.

I was thinking about this when I stumbled across an article on one of my new favorite websites, Eurekalert. I’m learning so much from perusing all the science articles on this site. It helps me believe that we are making progress after all.

The article in question is entitled, “Hibernation in mice: Are humans next?” It describes a fascinating study that came out of the University of Tsukuba, in Japan.

As with all scientific inquiry, this study started with some questions. Why do some animals hibernate while others do not? Do all animals have the potential to hibernate?

When a creature hibernates, its metabolism slows down, its temperature drops, its heart beats more slowly, it breathes more weakly, and there is less brain activity. And yet, when they wake up, they’re still healthy, albeit thinner. (Another plus, in my opinion!)

Mice do not normally hibernate, but this study shows that if you activate a cell in their brains called the Q neurons, they would do so for several days. They were able to produce these results in rats as well, in spite of the fact that they don’t even normally go into a daily torpor as mice do.

The implications of this study are rather interesting. If humans could hibernate, this could ease their pain during emergency transport. It could do wonders for space travel, as the amount of food and oxygen would be reduced, and there would be psychological benefits of “sleeping” through long journeys.

But if I let my imagination run wild, I think of people taking “hibernation vacations” (you heard it here first) to lose weight, or during times of upheaval and great stress. Sign me the heck up, is all I’m saying.

I could also see how having a reduced need for oxygen would be a wonderful thing for COVID-19 patients, who are struggling for every breath they take. It very well might buy them time to let the virus run its course. I’m no doctor, but I’d say this is worth investigating. It certainly couldn’t be worse than injecting oneself with bleach. (Do NOT inject yourself with bleach!!!)

As long as human hibernation was a voluntary thing, it could be quite beneficial to mankind. I hope this study continues. I look forward to hearing more about it.

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Visiting the Capitol Hill Organized Protest in Seattle

Recently, I blogged about the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), a protest society that has sprung up in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, which makes me love this city even more. I don’t know how long this little enclave will last, but I was intrigued by the concept. I wanted to bear witness.

I was glad to see that it was still there, even though it has undergone a name change. CHAZ is now CHOP: Capital Hill Organized Protest, because it can’t be considered autonomous in the strictest sense of the word. It doesn’t have its own utilities. It does not maintain its own streets or provide its own bureaucracy. It has not enacted its own constitution. It’s more like a barnacle on the shell that is Seattle, which in turn is a barnacle on the shell of the Duwamish tribal lands. But if CHOP is a barnacle, it’s a beautiful one.

CHOP has three demands: 1) Defund the police. 2) Invest that money in the community. 3) Release all protestors.

Trump would have you believe that a part of the city has been taken over by domestic terrorists, and that if he has it his way, he’ll send in the troops. There’s also this huge rumor that people are toting guns up in there. In essence, that it’s a war zone, all hell has broken loose, and the inmates are running the asylum. I wanted to find out for myself.

The weirdest part about CHOP, as far as I’m concerned, is that there were thousands of people there. Many were lookie-loos like me. Most were masked. But it was the largest crowd that I have been around in months, thanks to the quarantine, and I have to say that it felt exceedingly strange. Such are the times in which we live.

The biggest danger in CHOP, in my opinion, is COVID-19. I didn’t see a single gun the entire time I was there. I saw no violence. The only destruction I saw was the graffiti, which for the most part is really beautiful and well thought out. I felt completely safe.

I was able to listen to several protesters speak. One emphasized that this was a peaceful community. They didn’t destroy. They didn’t burn. And it was obviously true. I also saw a makeshift salon on the street, a circle of couches and chairs, where people were talking about race in the forthright way that you’d never see at a gathering at your average coffee shop. There are several teach-ins going on at any given time at CHOP.

I visited the No Cop Co-op. Free everything. They don’t even accept money in the form of donations. And everyone is welcome to help themselves. I did not do so because I’m sure there are people out there who are more in need than I am.

Cal Anderson Park was full of tents and gatherings. There’s even a vegetable garden starting out there. People were talking quietly. There was no buying or selling going on, and it was refreshing. This wasn’t some festival. These people are seriously wanting to make a change.

If anything, they were earnest to the point of exhaustion. Everyone seemed to be right on point. I did not get the impression that this was a bunch of freeloaders taking advantage of a hassle-free space.

I honestly felt kind of out of place. I was a lot older than the demographic, and a few times I felt like I was being viewed with suspicion. Was I a police or city plant? But everyone treated me, and everyone else, with respect.

I wanted to contribute to the place, so I brought some books to donate from my little free library. One was an anthology of working class literature. But the rest were just, you know, books to read. Because you can’t be on message all the time, can you? Sometimes you just need to read a good book. That was my thinking.

But when I turned them in, the guy at the co-op got a hopeful look in his eye, and asked if it was anarchist literature. Then I felt kind of silly, and was glad that the blush was hidden behind my mask. He was gracious and took the books anyway. I wonder what he did with them.

Hey, you know? You have to at least try. Even if your good intentions miss the mark.

I’m really rooting for CHOP. I walked away feeling like I had witnessed something historic, something important. I certainly know I wasn’t witnessing domestic terrorism.

Here are some pictures that we took in CHOP. I’ll do my best, out of respect for the protesters, to not include any where the unmasked faces are identifiable.

 

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Personal Responsibility

I am really proud to live in the State of Washington. I’m impressed at how we’re responding to the pandemic. I listen to Governor Inslee’s press conferences every chance I get, and he’s doing a terrific job keeping us up to date. We are not rushing to open things back up. We’re prioritizing lives over profit. I know that that is causing people to suffer, but in the end, staying alive is more important. This is a time when we all need to make sacrifices, even to the point that it hurts, in order to protect our fellow citizens.

I understand why some states are opening back up too soon. To do otherwise is probably political suicide. People are sick to death of being locked down. People are desperate to get back to work. Those things are tangible. The air is thick with impatience and frustration. Whereas this virus is invisible. You don’t actually see it until someone you love dies.

So I admire Governor Inslee for taking the moral high ground. He’s putting the people first. That’s not something you see many politicians doing these days.

The irritating thing about his press conferences on Facebook is the comments that stream past as he speaks. “You can’t make me wear a mask.” “Who are you to decide whether I open my massage parlor back up?” “Contact tracing is unconstitutional!”

In kindergarten, along with the concept of sharing your toys, it seems that we need to teach children about personal responsibility. While it comes naturally to many of us, it appears to be something that needs to be taught to others. In short: The world does not revolve around you.

You’re absolutely right. No one can make you wear a mask. And no one should have to tell you when to open your business. And while I’m pretty sure you may have to reread the constitution, I’ll admit that contact tracing is a bit of an invasion of privacy.

But you are part of a civilized society. And if you are going to take advantage of the benefits thereof, there are certain sacrifices that you need to make. That’s the contract you’ve entered into. You don’t have to like it.

Just as you shouldn’t shout fire in a crowded theater just because you think it would be funny, and you shouldn’t kneel on someone’s neck for nearly nine minutes simply because you have superior firepower, you also should not do anything else that increases the risk that people around you might die.

You’d think that would go without saying, but apparently not. Every single day that I’m at work, I sit in my bridge tower and watch the pedestrians, joggers, and bicyclists go by. Fewer and fewer of them are wearing masks. More and more of them are out and about. There seems to be a general feeling of, “It can’t happen to me, and I don’t particularly care if it happens to you.”

What these people seem to overlook is that their actions don’t only affect them. If they engage in risky behavior, they also risk bringing the virus home to their loved ones, or to their coworkers, or to the innocent schmuck who happens to pass too close to them on the sidewalk, or to the health care workers who have to risk their lives to care for us. Those are the people I worry about.

If you want to act stupid, that’s your prerogative. But you’re also making bad choices for everyone you come into contact with, and that’s unconscionable.

How American it is to think that just because we’re tired of this virus, we can ignore it and move on. Boo hoo. It’s not fun. It’s a hassle. We want to think about something else. But this virus only has legs if we give it legs. In cases like this, moving on isn’t an option.

Every day, at the beginning of my shift, I sanitize everything in my work space that I think could have been touched by coworkers. I do this for me, and for my husband, and for anyone else I might encounter. And at the end of the shift, I sanitize again. I don’t do this for me. I do this for my coworker who is about to occupy this same space. I think about his son and his wife as I clean. I think about the fact that a 10 year old boy needs both his parents to be healthy to take care of him.

No one can make me do the right thing. No one can make me do anything, technically. I do these things because I know I’m personally responsible for holding up my end of the contract of civilization. I do it because I’m an adult. I do it because I care about my fellow human beings.

personal-responsibility

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I’m Glad I’m Not a Lima Bean

My husband came across a recipe that called for dried, not canned, garbanzo beans. He asked me if I could pick some up since I was making one of my increasingly infrequent trips to the grocery store. “Sure!” I said.

Silly me.

The dried bean aisle of my grocery store was completely empty, with the exception of 3 bags of lima beans. (Apparently, I’m not alone in my dislike of lima beans.) So yeah, America is hoarding beans now.

I can sort of understand the instinct. Beans are reasonably priced. They store well. They’re filling. They’re the perfect food for the end of times. But lest we forget, they can be a pain in the butt to cook, frustrating for all but those who are into delayed gratification. A lot of people I know buy them with good intentions, and then never get around to actually cooking them. So there’s that.

But I do love a good garbanzo bean, I must admit. So when it was my husband’s turn to brave the contagion, I reminded him to look for them. He was going to a different store than I had. Sure enough, there was an empty aisle, inhabited only by a few bags of lima beans.

I kind of feel sorry for those lima beans. Abandoned. Not even deemed suitable for panic beaning. I’m glad lima beans don’t have feelings. I’m also glad I’m not a lima bean. Then nobody would love me. Waaaah!

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Be Careful What You Wish For

I understand why some people are longing for some rose-colored memory of what the past used to be like. A time when no one had to lock their doors and all the birthday cakes were made from scratch. A time when we were all content in our respective places, supposedly.

The present, for many of us, sucks. I can see why people would like to think that all of society’s ills could be cured by going back in some time machine to a period of former glory.

Nothing ever seems as awful in retrospect, after we’ve survived it. No one can truly remember the pain of childbirth, for example. If they could, we’d be a planet full of only children.

So many people wanted to Make America Great Again that they didn’t stop to think about the consequences. Now the past has rushed up to smack us in the face. We’re experiencing a pandemic not unlike the Spanish Flu of 1918 with no end in sight due to an utter lack of leadership, and 108,000 Americans dead at the time of this writing. We’re seeing unemployment like the Great Depression of the 1930’s, and are embroiled in riots like those of the 1970’s.

All those things were bad enough on their own. We get to go through them all rolled into one. Yay us.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired.

good old days

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Bezos, Smalls, and Bray: A Microcosm of Capitalism

Jeff Bezos, richest man in the world, is my neighbor (give or take a dozen miles). Not that I’ve ever met him, or ever will. I don’t travel in those circles, and I wouldn’t want to.

Another fun fact about Bezos is that, according to this article, as of April 15th, he had made 24 billion dollars (yes, with a B) more than he normally does, off the COVID-19 pandemic. Since we’re all stuck in our houses, we’re doing a lot of ordering on Amazon, and that lines Bezo’s pockets. Heaven only knows how much greater his earnings have been in the past month, since that statistic came out.

I would say good for him. It’s not his fault we’re bored silly and impulse buying online to remain socially distant. He deserves to profit off his company just like any other capitalist.

But.

He’s thriving while all the mom and pop stores are struggling and/or going belly up due to this virus. And I don’t see him stepping up to make any kind of a difference there. And his warehouse workers are treated abysmally, and they’re not being adequately protected in the workplace.

Enter Chris Smalls. He was a former manager assistant at an Amazon Warehouse on Staten Island. He saw that workers were not getting proper protection. He saw they weren’t being informed of active cases of COVID-19 in his building. He requested that work be stopped just long enough for the workplace could be properly sanitized. He led a protest. Not only was he fired for his trouble, but also a memo was leaked that was encouraging Amazon executives to lead a coordinated effort to say that Smalls was “not smart or articulate.” As if that means he doesn’t deserve to have his health protected. Insane.

Check out an interview with him here. He may not be a toastmaster, but I think he gets his point across just fine. And he’s not the only employee to have been fired from Amazon for organizing.

And then, enter Tim Bray. This former Amazon Vice President quit on May 1st. The final straw for him was the firing of workers who were organizing regarding their poor working conditions during the pandemic. He said there was “a vein of toxicity running through the company culture.” He said he’d “neither serve nor drink that poison any longer.”

Read more about his reasons for quitting in his blog post here.

So there you have it: three men who represent the three typical tentacles of capitalism the world over:

  • Bezos, the heartless capitalist who will squeeze every ounce of value out of the little people who make all the money for him, and then cast them out when they become a nuisance.

  • Smalls, one of the little people in question, who gives his heart and soul to a company and only wants safety, decency and reasonable pay in return, but rarely gets it.

  • Bray, the middle man, uncomfortable with what’s going on both above and below him. In this instance, he chose to take a stand, and I admire him for it. It’s people like him, those middlemen with a moral compass, who often cause companies to change whether they like it or not.

I just don’t get why Bezos can’t see his way clear to throw a couple of those billions at the problem, to improve working conditions, health, and safety, and increase morale. He wouldn’t even miss them, and in the end, he’d benefit too.

But he’s like a racoon caught in a loose trap simply because he won’t unclench his fist and let go of that crust of bread. Greed is like that. So in the end, Bezos is the biggest loser. He’s pathetic. At least Smalls and Bray have integrity.

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