On her maiden voyage on H.M.S. Grey Lady, Emi powerfully brings home what it feels like when the crisis stops being an abstraction, stops being about numbers and percentages and statistics and concepts, and turns up on your doorstep:
There is a milk vendor who delivers to restaurants in my neighborhood. When he has leftover milk, he sells it from his parked truck to a gloomy congregation of elderly neighbors, who begin to line up while it’s still dark out. These days, the truck shows up less often. The sad scene ends with frail customers walking away empty-handed after hours of waiting. I’m able to identify them by their solemn retreat and their tears of anger.
Recently, a woman who works at a nearby beauty parlor decided to start her commute earlier than usual to join the line in hopes of finding milk. As per the government-mandated schedule, her turn to shop for basic goods is every Friday. She gave up on her weekly trips to the local supermarket, not only because she has to work on Fridays, but also because she is terrified of being held at gunpoint by the robbers who wait to pounce on shoppers if they emerge with anything inside their grocery bags. Her 8-month-old granddaughter hasn’t had formula in months, she told me. She worries about the breast milk her mother feeds her, since she has only bread and noodle soup to eat.
Our mayor recently noted that stray dogs had all but disappeared from our neighborhood, and people are hunting pigeons in the main square.
It’s gripping stuff. And I’d say so even if she wasn’t my Managing Editor…
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