Posts Tagged ‘Covid’

Celebrating the Holidays in Recovery

Wednesday, December 13th, 2023

Addiction and Recovery

By Bob Gaydos  

“No, “is an acceptable answer at holiday parties.

“No, thank you“ is an acceptable answer at holiday parties.

It’s time for the annual reminder. The holiday party season is always a potential source of bah humbug, what with the flu (and now Covid) potentially lurking around, but it is an especially treacherous time of year for people in early recovery from addiction.

People who have found their way to recovery, be it via a 12-step program or otherwise, have been given suggestions on how to survive the season of temptation without relapse. If they use these tools, with practice, they can even enjoy the season.

It’s the rest of you I’m mainly talking to here. You hosts, family members, well-meaning friends who want to be supportive and do the right thing, but aren’t sure what that is. And yes, to those who don’t get the concept of addiction at all, but can still avoid harming a relationship by following a few basic suggestions. So, herewith, some coping tools for the non-addicted, if you will:

  • “No thank you” is a complete sentence and perfectly acceptable answer. It should not require any further explanation. “One drink won’t hurt you” is a dangerously ill-informed reply. The same goes for, “A few butter cookies won’t hurt. C’mon, it’s Christmas.” Or, “Get the dress, Put it on your credit card. You’ll feel better.” Not really.
  • By the way, “No thank you” is an acceptable answer even for people not in recovery. Not everyone who turns down a second helping of stuffing or a piece of pumpkin pie is a member of Overeaters Anonymous. Not everyone who prefers a ginger ale rather than a beer is a member of AA. Not everyone who won’t go into hock for an expensive New Year’s Eve party is a compulsive debtor. But some of them may be.
  •  If you’re hosting a party to which people in recovery have been invited, have some non-alcoholic beverages available. Not just water. There are plenty of new ones available. Don’t make a big deal about having them, just let your guests know they are available. The same goes for food. Have some appetizing low-calorie dishes and healthful desserts on hand. Don’t point out that they’re there because so-and-so is watching his weight. Just serve them. You’ll be surprised how many guests enjoy them and comment on what a good host you are.
  • If you’re honestly concerned about how the person in recovery is doing, approach him or her privately. He or she might not feel comfortable discussing it in front of other guests. If you’re just curious, keep it to yourself.

Honoring a guest’s wishes is a sign of respect. Anticipating them in advance is even better. Encouraging someone to eat, drink or spend money when they don’t want to is, at the very least, not gracious. Pressuring someone to partake of something when you know he or she is trying hard to avoid it is a good way to lose a friend. Addictions are not trivial matters. “No, thank you,” is a perfectly good answer. Members of AA, OA and DA will be especially appreciative if you remember that. And maybe have a couple of spare masks around for guests who may feel a bit vulnerable.

Enjoy your party.

                                             ***

For recovering addicts, the tools should be familiar, but always bear repeating:

  •  Bring a recovery friend to a party.
  •  Have phone numbers and your own transportation available if you want to leave an uncomfortable situation.
  •  If you’re uncomfortable about attending a party because of who will be there, be it family or friends who are not supportive, don’t go. Politely decline. 
  •  Keep track of your drink. If you’re not sure, get a new one.
  •  When shopping, deal in cash; forget about credit cards.
  •  Don’t feel obliged to try every dish on the table. 
  • And, again, “No, thank you,” is a complete sentence. Don’t worry about hurting your host’s feelings at the expense of your recovery. There’s always next year.

Enjoy your recovery.

For more information:

Alcoholics Anonymous: www.aa.org

Overeaters Anonymous: www.oa.org

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Republicans Wage War Against the Truth

Saturday, July 8th, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

3B0E6801-9810-44D0-B32F-0019DC5ED924“The truth shall make us free.”

   That was the motto of Adelphi College, my alma mater. Still is. Been around since 1896. It’s a good one, I think, as mottos go.

    Of course, it’s also a bit selective in that, today, it would preclude any loyal Republican from attending or teaching or in any other way participating in activities at such a socialist opponent of  free-speech.

    I know. That makes no sense. But neither do today’s Republicans.

    The problem arises today mostly in the minds of Republicans who confuse “free speech” with the right to say anything they feel like, without regard to the truth and certainly without regard to the repercussions of the lack of truth in their statements.

    But that’s not the end of it. They also don’t want people pointing out the fact that they might be spreading misinformation, or, heaven forbid, even lying. People like social media fact checkers or independent fact checkers or even government employees such as FBI agents or health care officials.

      Republicans have even found a Trump-appointed judge in Louisiana to say that officially for them.

       Last week, Judge Terry A. Doughty granted a preliminary injunction saying the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other government departments must stop communicating with social media companies for “the purpose of urging, encouraging, pressuring or inducing in any manner the removal, deletion, suppression or reduction of content containing protected free speech.”    

      “Protected free speech.” Like misinformation on Covid-19 or vaccines or election fraud. The judge, whose ruling will be appealed, said the government, which might well have factual information on the matter, should not inform social media platforms about the possibility of dangerous misinformation being spread on their platform.

     Now, much of this fear-mongering, conspiracy spreading and outright lying is caught by independent fact-checkers, be it simply other users or researchers or non-profit agencies. But they say the government agencies have never pressured social media companies to remove content, simply alerted them to possibly dangerous, non-factual content.

     Of course, non-factual content has become the entire Republican Party playbook since it swore allegiance to Donald Trump: Obama’s birth certificate, Hillary’s emails, Hunter Biden’s laptop, Mexico will pay for a wall, COVID’s not serious, stolen elections, January 6 didn’t happen, the mainstream media lies.

      I’m not aware of any Republican court challenge to the right of the free press to print the truth about Trump et al. It may be a bridge too far right now. Of course, newspapers printed long lists of Trump’s lies in office. Not that most Republicans, especially hard core MAGA Republicans, were concerned. They believed the lies. There’s the rub.

     A classmate of mine at my high school alma mater, Bayonne High School, has a theory on how even those who recognize the lies can unwittingly help them gain credence.

      If memory serves me correctly, Dr. George Lakoff was valedictorian of the BHS Class of ‘58, my class. He went on to become a highly regarded cognitive linguist and philosopher at University of California, Berkeley. A smart guy.

     Lakoff says, “Without knowing it, many Democrats, progressives and members of the news media help Donald Trump every day. The way they help him is simple: they spread his message.”

    He likens it to telling people not to think about an elephant. They can’t get rid of the image.

        “When arguing against the other side,” Lakoff says, “don’t use their language because it evokes their frame and not the frame you seek to establish. Never repeat their charges! Instead, use your own words and values to reframe the conversation. When you repeat Trump, you help Trump.”

       Trump’s barrage of outrageous claims has grown with each new report on his criminality and incompetence. It is being buttressed by a coordinated Republican assault on the truth, aimed at schools, think tanks, the news media, as well as the Biden White House.

     Republicans frame it as a fight for the First Amendment. Don’t buy it. This is a fight for the truth.

     And the truth shall make us free.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

(Adelphi College was founded in 1896. It became a university in 1963, the year I graduated with a degree in English, but not before I graduated, meaning I am part of the last class to receive a diploma that says Adelphi College.)

(Dr. George Lakoff’s views on politics, language and your brain can be found at https://substack.com › @framelab).

 

Holiday Parties: Celebrating in Sobriety

Tuesday, December 13th, 2022

Addiction and Recovery

By Bob Gaydos
4435B31C-C139-4733-A848-5B49FD50C6EE  I’ve written a column on addiction and recovery for more than a dozen years. A staple of this column has been a sort of  “word to the wise” on how to survive the holidays for those in recovery. It also serves as a guide to party hosts who may not be in recovery.

The past couple of years gave new meaning to “surviving the holidays,” but having moved into a new phase of dealing with Covid, parties are back in fashion. Still,  health precautions remain advisable. Covid, the flu and other viruses are a real threat.

The point of this column is that, whatever else is going on, this is always a treacherous time of year for people in early recovery from addiction. People who have found their way to recovery, be it via a 12-step program or otherwise, have been given suggestions on how to survive the season of temptation without relapse. If they use these tools, with practice, they can even enjoy the season.

It’s the rest of you I’m mainly talking to here. You hosts, family members, well-meaning friends who want to be supportive and do the right thing, but aren’t sure what that is. And yes, to those who don’t get the concept of addiction at all, but can still avoid harming a relationship by following a few basic suggestions.

So, some coping tools for the non-addicted host, if you will: “No thank you” is a complete sentence and perfectly acceptable answer. It should not require any further explanation. “One drink won’t hurt you” is a dangerously ill-informed reply. The same goes for, “A few butter cookies won’t hurt. C’mon, it’s Christmas.” Or, “Get the dress, Put it on your credit card. You’ll feel better.” Not really.

By the way, “No thank you” is an acceptable answer even for people not in recovery. Not everyone who turns down a second helping of stuffing or a piece of pumpkin pie is a member of Overeaters Anonymous. Not everyone who prefers a ginger ale rather than a beer is a member of AA. Not everyone who won’t go into hock for an expensive New Year’s Eve party is a compulsive debtor. But some of them may be.

If you’re hosting a party to which people in recovery have been invited, have some non-alcoholic beverages available. Not just water. Don’t make a big deal about having them, just let your guests know they are available. The same goes for food. Have some appetizing low-calorie dishes and healthful desserts on hand. Don’t point out that they’re there because so-and-so is watching his weight. Just serve them. You’ll be surprised how many guests enjoy them and comment on what a good host you are.

If you’re honestly concerned about how the person in recovery is doing, approach him or her privately. He or she might not feel comfortable discussing it in front of other guests. If you’re just curious, keep it to yourself.

Honoring a guest’s wishes is a sign of respect. Anticipating them in advance is even better. Encouraging someone to eat, drink or spend money when they don’t want to is, at the very least, not gracious. Pressuring someone to partake of something when you know he or she is trying hard to avoid it is a good way to lose a friend. Addictions are not trivial matters. “No, thank you,” is a perfectly good answer. Members of AA, OA and DA will be especially appreciative if you remember that.

And for those in recovery, remember to bring a phone with plenty of numbers and have a way to leave the party if you become too uncomfortable. There will be other parties, but there may not be another recovery.

Be smart and enjoy. Have a mask handy if need be. Enjoy your sobriety.

Happy holidays.

rjgaydos@gmail.com
Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Study: A.A. Meetings May be Lifesavers

Friday, March 25th, 2022



Addiction and Recovery

By Bob Gaydos

 The absence of in person meetings lead to relaxes, a study suggests.

The absence of in person meetings lead to relapses, a study suggests.

   “Don’t drink … and go to meetings.”

    “Meeting-makers make it.”

    Those two bits of advice — “suggestions” as they are officially considered — have been welcoming newcomers to Alcoholics Anonymous ever since the group was born 86 years ago. 

     The message is simple: Alcoholics, especially those new to recovery, are more likely to get and stay sober if they keep regular contact with other alcoholics in recovery. The “all in the same boat” philosophy. “We” get sober, especially if some of us know how to do it and can guide others. Fellowship. Coffee. Hugs and handshakes. Easy does it.

      Then came COVID. No more hugs. No more handshakes. No more coffee. No face-to-face support and fellowship. And for some, no recovery. Or worse.

       According to a recent report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, alcohol-related deaths increased by 25 percent in the United States in the first year of Covid. Researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) looked at mortality data to compare the number of alcohol-related deaths among persons aged 16 and older in 2019 and 2020. Deaths were considered to be alcohol-related if alcohol was listed as an underlying or contributing cause.

          The report found that the number of alcohol-related deaths, including from liver disease and accidents, jumped to 99,017 in 2020, up from 78,927 the previous year. That 25 percent increase is compared to an average increase of 3.6 percent annually for the previous 20 years. Perhaps not surprisingly, in response to the pandemic, many Americans drank more. They binged more. And more of them died because of it.

           The researchers cited the stress of living with all the changes and restrictions of Covid, including isolation, as a major factor in the increase in drinking and deaths. Of course, isolation and feeling stressed are major reasons many alcoholics drink. Recovery is largely about dealing with stress and other people without drinking.

         In addition to the Covid-related stress in general, it became more difficult to seek help at rehabs. Hospitals with recovery programs were swamped with Covid patients. The researchers say many people got discouraged and just put off looking for help.

            And for those meeting-makers, there were no more meetings. At least not in person. The researchers also said they assumed many people in recovery relapsed because they couldn’t access any in-person support, including from 12-step groups like AA.

           To be sure, Zoom meetings proliferated online and many AA members found themselves staring at their smart phones or iPads, communicating with alcoholics across the nation and, indeed, across the world. The messages were the same, just not in person. Make your own coffee. Hug your cat. It was new and, for many, a welcome lifeline.

         But for many others, this wasn’t enough. Having been resourceful about managing to get a drink, a lot of alcoholics in recovery did manage to figure out how to have meetings in person, safely.

         In New York’s Mid-Hudson region, some began meeting in their cars in parking lots. Once the weather warmed up, groups with venues that offered private space began meeting outside. Bring your own chairs and coffee. Meetings sprang up in parks throughout Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties. If there was a park pavilion with a large crowd of people sitting quietly and sipping coffee, there was a good chance it was an AA meeting. The restrictions or requirements changed with Covid. Masks, sanitizer, and social distancing were common place.  It wasn’t the same, most agreed, but it was far better than not meeting at all.

      COVID is not yet gone. It seems to keep reinventing itself. Local AA groups continue to adapt as well, most now meeting indoors, with or without masking and distancing rules. For many, the coffee pots are back. Zoom meetings continue.

      But the importance of in-person contact is not lost on many members.

       “The meetings are where I get my medicine,” says F.G., a longtime member from Orange County. “I need to see the faces,” he says.

        More personally, G.E., an Ulster County resident, says he was within months of 25 years of sobriety when he stopped going to meetings and eventually relapsed. Then Covid arrived. Back a couple of months now, he says, “I must treasure my sobriety. I have to respect it. I thought I could do it without the personal contact. I couldn’t. Now, I really enjoy the fellowship.”

       At least one study suggests there’s a compelling reason to continue to do so.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

By Whatever Name, It’s Still Racism

Sunday, February 13th, 2022
Light And Word Of Racism For Background Stock Photo, Picture And ...

By Bob Gaydos

   Every once in a while that perpetual motion machine I call my mind comes to a screeching halt with what I like to think of as a moment of clarity.  Like when I realized that every political story in the United States for the past six-plus years has been some version of the Republican Party capitulating to Donald Trump’s platform of lies and manipulation to secure power. Different details, same story.

     Recently, I looked at a list of potential topics for columns and had one of those moments. Here’s the list as it appeared on my phone: “NFL, Joe Rogan, supreme court, gerrymandering, Teaching history, the police.”

     “It’s all racism,” I said to myself. “We’re still arguing about its presence when our lives are full of it.”

     I will leave it to others to go into detail on each of these stories because they all deserve it and it will happen anyway. But my point here is that racism is everywhere in America, to the point that even commenting negatively on its presence almost makes it seem acceptable because it seems to be inevitable. That’s troubling, yet I persist.

      Touching briefly on that list:

  • The NFL, its players overwhelmingly black, is being sued because team owners have a pathetic record in hiring black head coaches. And that’s with a league rule that requires diversity in interviewing for coaching positions. And then there’s still Colin Kaepernick, the black quarterback who was blackballed by the league because he took a knee during the National Anthem.
  • President Biden was criticized by Republicans for saying that he would nominate a black woman to fill a coming Supreme Court vacancy. Outrageous! to make color a part of the process, they screamed. Sure, let’s just forget nearly 200 years of only white male justices on the court. Let’s forget it was even longer before a woman justice was approved. Who needs a court that represents all Americans?
  • Efforts are being made in Florida, Texas and other states to prevent teachers from, well, teaching history. That’s because some people don’t like their children hearing uncomfortable facts about America’s history of slavery and racial discrimination.
  • Republican efforts to redraw election districts to make it difficult for people of color (who tend to favor Democrats) to vote continue nationwide and, despite all the publicity, black lives still don’t seem to matter as much as others to some police.
  • But Joe Rogan is the one that really gets me. The comedian/podcaster has been the center of controversy recently regarding the spreading of misinformation on Covid 19 via his podcast on Spotify. Controversy, of course, is pure gold for Rogan. Singer Neil Young pulled all his songs from Spotify because of Rogan’s spreading Covid misinformation and other artists followed suit. Spotify eventually agreed to put a disclaimer on Rogan’s broadcasts on Covid. But the attention on his podcast uncovered an old video which compiled his use of the “N” word in numerous segments over the years. That struck me as odd, being that Rogan is a white comedian and, in my experience, even the most down-to-earth, open-to-all-ideas, average white guy who is not Richard Pryor doesn’t get to do that. There is only one message there and it is racist. Rogan subsequently asked Spotify to remove 70 — that’s 70! — episodes in which he used the word. Sounds almost routine. He subsequently apologized, saying “it is the most regretful and shameful thing I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.” He said he had not used the N-word in years and hoped it would be a “teaching moment.“ Well that’s nice. Me, too. But, as he said, the video compiling the “shameful“ episodes has been out there for years. He could’ve been teaching his fans how wrong it was all this time instead of hoping it would just stay forgotten. Rogan also called release of the video and other criticisms of him “a political hit job.“ That kind of sounds like many of his shows from what I hear. Personally, I can’t recall any conversation in which I used the “N” word, even just to say I shouldn’t use it. I somehow learned early on that it was offensive for any white person to use the word. Using it in any context just gives it more credence. But that’s just me. 
  • One more thing, Rogan, who reportedly has 11 million listeners, was also criticized for mocking on his show the way Asians speak English. He defended it by saying, “But that’s the way they talk.”

      Like I said, it’s all racism.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Shooting My Way Out of the Funk

Sunday, November 28th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Swish …

Swish …

      It’s time to borrow from the book of Curry. Stephen Curry, that is.

      Back in 2017, when I was in a bit of a writing funk, I came across an interview with Curry, who is regarded by most basketball fans as one of the best, if not the best, pure shooter in the National Basketball Association. Swish is his MO.


      As synchronicity would have it, Curry at the time was going through a rare shooting slump. He was hearing a lot more clang than swish. The interviewer asked him what he did about that. How do you get out of a shooting slump?

     “You shoot your way out of it,” Curry said. “You obviously get more reps in between games, try to get that muscle memory back and the vision of the ball going in. You never lose confidence — that’s first and foremost. But there’s nothing really different to my approach. You’ve got to grind your way through it.”

   So this is me shooting my way out of a writing slump. Working on that muscle memory and grinding my way back into the groove.

     Four years ago, the funk settled in because there was really only one thing to write about every day: how Donald Trump had messed the world up in some unique way and how Republicans were just fine with it. Only the details changed; the arrogance and ignorance were ever-present. There are only so many ways to say that. Actually, I just said it.

    Now, Trump is thankfully gone from the White House, but his legacy and his minions linger on. The story today, the only story told in different ways, is President Biden trying to remedy the damage Trump caused while Republican politicians fall all over each other trying to emulate Trump.

     The constant lies, the hypocrisy, the unabashed arrogance and proud  ignorance. It’s infuriating and, honestly, writing about it constantly is as much a drag as reading about it. 

     Take Kevin McCarthy (please, as Henny Youngman would say). Having him as their leader in the House of Representatives should embarrass every Republican. He criticizes Biden’s infrastructure plan, yet takes credit for the good stuff in his home state of  California. He blames Biden for Covid lingering and spreading, while Republican governors continue to ignore the science and defy calls for vaccines and masks.

       He does it with a straight face, knowing it’s baloney, because this is how the Trump Republican Party is supposed to operate. 

       I don’t know how many times that has to be said, but I think I just took a shot and scored and I feel better.. Guess some of that muscle memory came back. A few more reps at the keyboard and I think I’ll be back on my game.

        Thanks, Steph.

(For those  younger than 50, Henny Youngman was a popular comedian, I once ran into in an art gallery in Woodstock. More synchronicity.)

 

rjgaydos@gmail.com

GOP: A Party of Distraction, not Action

Friday, September 17th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

64B6273B-ABBF-4252-AB3C-3D7FC5AA28C7    And now it’s abortion. Again.

    The Republican Party, as predictable as ever, has reached deep into its bag of political strategems and come up with its old standby. When nothing else works, ban abortion.

     Also predictably, the media, especially TV,  swarmed all over this story as if it has never happened before. TV commentators (I cannot call them newscasters) breathlessly rushed to say everything they always say when Republicans do this, acting as if it is the only important story in America today. Social media, of course, greatly amplified the reaction.

      It’s a distraction. Precisely what Republicans want.

      It’s a proven way to take people’s minds off the failures of the GOP. It’s a proven way to rile up the voter base growing weary of Covid and wondering whether or not that presidential election really was stolen. It’s yet another way to pit Americans against each other, even though Republicans are on the wrong side of this issue as far as the majority of Americans are concerned

    A majority of Americans are pro-choice. Republicans are pro-choice when it affects them personally. End of story.

..    i’m not saying that the right of a woman to control her own body and to choose abortion if necessary is not important. The Supreme Court has already decided it is. So yes, it is disappointing that the current court chose not to consider a challenge to the outrageous Texas law effectively banning abortion. But the law will of course be challenged in court by all the groups that usually challenge such misbegotten legislation. And the Justice Department, free of the shackles of the Trump administration, not surprisingly said it will challenge the legality of the Texas law.

      But meanwhile, let us not forget a budget bill, an infrastructure bill, a voting rights bill, all proposed by Democrats and waiting for congressional approval. Again, the majority of Americans approve of the proposals of the Biden administration, all of which have been opposed by Republicans. Opposing Democratic initiatives is the entire GOP playbook.

      Let’s also not forget the ongoing Covid pandemic, exacerbated and extended in this country by the politically motivated statements and actions of Republican governors, especially those from Texas and Florida. Republicans would rather have Americans argue over abortion than notice people dying in overwhelmed hospitals in Texas and Florida … and Mississippi and Louisiana.

      Of course, there was also Afghanistan. Republicans tried to paint President Biden‘s removal of troops and evacuation of Americans and allies from that country as a total failure. It was not. Again, most Americans are glad to be out of Afghanistan and recognize the fact that the Trump administration created the situation in that country which guaranteed a messy withdrawal. Biden did not apologize for his decision, nor, by the way, did he send out a Twitter storm blaming his generals for the poor advice they gave him on the evacuation.

   With even some establishment Republicans declaring that the 2020 election was fair, not stolen, party leaders have tossed out such distractions as “woke,” cancel culture and critical race theory. Remember them? They all got traction for a brief while in the media until people realized there were more legitimate issues, more important things going on in this country, none of them being addressed by Republicans.

     The most important of those is the congressional hearing into the insurrection of January 6. Republicans in Congress have disgraced themselves trying to convince Americans that nothing serious really happened. Or if it did, Trump was not involved. Or if he was, they personally were not involved.

     This is the important story in America today. The very foundation of this nation is at stake. TV commentators talking about abortion need to ratchet down the emotion a bit, stick to the facts and history of the issue and remember all the challenges this president faced when he took office. He is tackling those challenges methodically and with a calm sense of purpose. I might suggest a couple of other things that ought to be done:

  1. Those three pieces of legislation need to be passed by Congress. Also kill the filibuster. Biden needs to call West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, supposedly a Democrat, into the Oval Office for a serious man-to-man, president-to-senator, Democrat-to-Democrat taking. Something reminiscent of LBJ.
  1. That special commission the president appointed to consider any changes that might be necessary to the Supreme Court needs to be told to wrap up its work quickly with a recommendation to expand the court from 9 to 13 justices. Now. Enough playing nice. And yes, it’s something Republicans would actually do.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

 

Get Vaccinated, Get Rich, Get High!

Saturday, June 19th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Pot for a vaccine shot.

Pot for a vaccine shot.

  A billion free doses or pot for a shot? These are the days of our lives. 

     Some context. At the same time G7 nations were pledging to donate 1 billion doses of Coronavirus vaccines to less wealthy nations, back in the good old US of A, where everyone desperately wants to reach the 70 percent vaccinated goal so we can “open up” and get back to normal again, reluctant vaccine-getters were being wooed with all sorts of goodies, including a joint for a jolt, pot for a shot. A free dose of THC for an already free dose of a life-saving vaccine. What the heck, if your won’t do it for your own well-being, if you won’t do it for the health of your friends and neighbors, if you won’t do it because it is the easiest way to demonstrate both common sense and patriotism, won’t you please, pretty please, get vaccinated if we give you — free! — a pre-rolled joint of marijuana? What a country. 

      Indeed. What a country.

      The “Joints for Jabs” program in the State of Washington, where recreational marijuana use is legal, lets adults who are 21 or older claim a free marijuana joint after they receive their shot. The promotion supposedly will run through July 12. Presumably those who don’t partake in puffing will have to settle for a bottle of water.

        In the same vein, the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce offered a “Shots for Shots” promotion. Anyone who got vaccinated at the Convention Center was given a coupon for a free drink at local watering holes.

       With President Biden’s stated goal of having 70 percent of Americans vaccinated by July 4, states, cities, corporations, businesses were, well, bribing Americans to do the right thing. Tickets to ball games, Disneyland, Six Flags, the Super Bowl, free Girl Scout cookies, French fries, hotdogs, donuts, Pizza, college scholarships, weekly drawings and lottery tickets that could be worth millions have all been offered to try to convince people to do their part to stop the pandemic that has, by the way, killed more than 600,000 of your fellow Americans.

         Meanwhile, the much-lauded agreement by the G7 nations to provide 1 billion free doses of vaccines to less wealthy nations around the world was welcomed and criticized by the outgoing U.N. aid chief, Mark Lowcock, who said, while the vaccines certainly would be appreciated, the wealthy nations offered no plan for how to distribute them.

         Oops. Since speed of delivery is vital in stemming the pandemic, it certainly would help to have a delivery plan, such as was proposed by the International Monetary Fund. This is especially vital for countries across Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and parts of South America, which desperately need Covid vaccines. For now, they can do without the hotdogs and Girl Scout cookies. Just vaccines, please.

          My point? With more than 177 million Covid cases worldwide and nearly 4 million deaths, I have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that tens of thousands of my fellow Americans need a free joint or a ticket to a baseball game or a shot at a lottery ticket to get them to take a free vaccine that could well save their lives, not to mention the lives of others. A vaccine that could finally stem the pandemic.

        Yeah, I just walked in and got my shots, no problem, thank you, so yeah, I’m more than a little annoyed and disappointed.

         Problem is, I don’t really have a solution. People were livid over being required to wear masks. Imagine requiring them to get vaccinated. January 6 would seem like a backyard barbecue. In some respects, I think pot for shots is just evidence that, in this country, we never really left “normal.“

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

 

Beware: No Labels is Mislabeled

Wednesday, April 14th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos (more…)