the sky was gray going to black and I was listening to the end of the audiobook, We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
As always, when I drive by the hospital (it's my usual route home from the library where I work) I think of the night my husband had a kidney stone, but we didn't know yet that was why he was in so much pain, and because we are in the middle of a pandemic, I had to drive him to the emergency entrance and basically dump him out of the car and watch him stagger inside alone.
Most nights, when I drive by the hospital and look over at the emergency room entrance, there are only a few cars pulling up to let people out, but last night the cars were lined up, two deep. We Were Eight Years in Power was reaching its conclusion, Ta-Nehisi Coates speaking louder and more forcefully.
The book is a collection of essays he wrote during the Obama presidency. It's also about the racial injustice and inequality that's been pretty much baked into our country since before its founding. The cars were lined up outside the hospital emergency room, I suspect, because the virus is running rampant in our state. A couple of weeks ago we were at 3000 new cases per day. Now we're at 8000 and rising. A doctor from the Cleveland Clinic was on the news begging people to stay home. Last spring his hospital sent doctors to New York during their nightmarish spike. But now, he said, no one will come to save us.
The traffic light turned red, the cars still streaming toward the emergency room, Ta-Nehisi Coates's voice still rising.
And so the most powerful country in the world has handed over all its affairs—the prosperity of its entire economy; the security of its 300 million citizens; the purity of its water, the viability of its air, the safety of its food; the future of its vast system of education; the soundness of its national highways, airways, and railways; the apocalyptic potential of its nuclear arsenal—to a carnival barker who introduced the phrase grab ’em by the pussy into the national lexicon. It is as if the white tribe united in demonstration to say, “If a black man can be president, then any white man—no matter how fallen—can be president.”
Green light, and I left the hospital behind. I turned down my street. The Starbucks on the corner, the Starbucks that always has a line spilling out onto the road, was dark. Closed.
Too many workers home sick now to keep it open.