It’s good to have a morning routine.
Here’s mine, these days:
- Wake up. Grab mobile phone.
- Check news. Feel horrified.
- Check Twitter. Feel even worse.
- Get up.
- Drink coffee.
- Check news again. Feel horrified again.
- Repeat news / coffee / Twitter pattern until it’s time for lunch.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been doing the same thing since March. The year of Covid has been pretty good for your various feelings of horror.
But occasionally something happens to break you out of the routine.
For example: on Tuesday morning I woke up to the words “confinamiento total” on the front page of La Vanguardia.
My blood instantly ran cold.
Waves of sadness and anger. Horror. Pain.
Apparently, the folks at the Catalan government were thinking of locking us up at home again. Just for 15 days.
I remember what happened last time they said “15 days”. And the time before that. In fact, I’m totally sick of hearing “15 days” from these people.
What to do? I took a deep breath, got on Skyscanner, and started looking for departing flights.
Turns out, air travel still exists, even though I haven’t been to an airport since February. There are a few flights out, and tickets available.
I hop in the shower to think, and by the time I’m done, I’ve made a decision.
Morena’s awake by now, so I tell her the news.
“We can leave tomorrow, or we can leave today. The way things are going, today might be better.”
She’s hesitant, but agrees.
Within an hour I’ve got a flight to Gran Canaria and a hotel room for the next few nights. We can find an AirBnB and stick around. Canarias have very few cases these days, and they’re not on lockdown.
Time to stop hoping…
One of my favorite politicians ever is Barack Obama. And as you might remember, one of his big slogans back in the day was “Hope”.
One of my favorite quotes ever is from Rudy Giuliani – who, incidentally, I don’t like at all. He responded to Obama, saying…
“Hope is not a strategy.”
Touché, Mr G.
Anyway, the tickets are bought, and Morena tries to calm me down.
“I don’t think they’d actually lock us up again. It’s stupid!”
“And I didn’t think they’d do it the first time. Look what happened.”
“I hope this all works out and things can go back to normal.”
“Hope didn’t work last time either. They locked us up like factory farmed chickens, remember?”
“Yeah, but I hope this time it’s different.”
“Hope is not a strategy!”
I’m done with hope. I sat around last time and “hoped” things would work themselves out. This time I’m getting the fuck out of town.
Because if one thing is abundantly clear this year, it’s that the people in government don’t care about our hopes.
The perils of corporate slavery
Morena’s boss isn’t too excited about the plan.
Of course, she’s been working from home since she joined the company.
And – stupid me – I’d just assumed that “working from home” and “remote work” were synonyms.
But Mr Bossman explains that no, they’re actually completely different. “Working from home” means you have to stay home. The HR people might be slightly inconvenienced if everyone just starts working remotely, from wherever. And of course, we can’t inconvenience the HR people.
I’ve never worked for a company that actually had an HR department, so I’m a bit out of my depth here.
But this is the big problem with having a job. They’ll have no issued firing you – in fact, they won’t even consider whether being fired is an “inconvenience” for you.
You’re just a line on an Excel sheet for them.
But god forbid you work from a hotel room somewhere. It might create 5 minutes of paperwork for Mildred down at corporate.
Anyway, Bossman explains the situation to Morena, and promises to get back to her after he’s talked to HR.
I go out for a walk, and a little bit later she texts me.
“Bossman says it’s okay.”
Great. Time to start packing.
I’ll say here, and I’m completely serious, that if I never set foot in Catalonia again, I’ll be fine. I’m sick of sitting around while those incompetent turds in blue suits find new ways to ruin everyone’s life.
(And I’m not just talking about Catalan politicians. The national ones seem just as bad.)
Two weeks ago, they closed all the bars and restaurants – again. Then they announced they’d be giving extra funding the the food banks.
It’s a socialist’s wet dream…
Take away people’s livelihoods and dignity, then make them stand in line for free beans. Don’t worry. It’s for the common good.
Anyway, I throw some clothes and a couple of books into a suitcase.
I fill my backpack with various electronics.
Ham sandwiches for the airport. Passport, national ID, boarding cards.
And we’re off.
The airport is mostly silent. There are more people doing security than there are passengers. They make me empty my backpack so they can examine my various idols.
“Can’t leave town without Buddha and Ganesh. The idols might bring good luck… and I could fucking well use some good luck right now.”
Morena rolls her eyes.
On the other side of security, there’s a departures board that’s three screens wide. The first screen has about 12 flights listed, for today and tomorrow morning. The rest is empty.
The shops are shuttered, McDonalds and Starbucks are closed. There’s one bar open. I get a beer and we sit down.
“Never seen anything like this before. It’s a ghost town.”
An hour later we’re on the plane. It’s about half full. They’ve only sold a few tickets in each row. Everybody’s wearing a mask, and the safety demonstration has a new line in it.
“In case of a loss of cabin pressure, please remove your face covering before putting on the oxygen mask.”
You almost never know, at the time, what moments in your life mark a before and an after.
But this certainly feels like one.
Morena grabs my hand. The lights dim, the engines roar, and the plane floats up into the dark sky.
P.S. Now, as I write this, it’s Friday. And so far, I’d recommend coming to Canarias 1000%. It’s beautiful, it’s cheap, and the weather is great. Hit me up when you’re down here… Beer’s on me.