Random Thoughts While Driving in Waco

By Jack Smith

Jack can be reached at jwsmith2@flash.net

The coronovirus has dominated everything in our lives in recent days. Can you remember when we worried about a virus on our computers? Vicki and I have done our part in mostly staying at home. My life hasn’t changed that much. The only places I would normally shop are the grocery store, drugstore, hardware store or online, and I can do that if I have to. I still go to my office, but there is rarely anything to do. The courthouse is closed to the public, so I sit in my office and wait for the mail or phone calls. I am proud to be “essential” so I can leave the house without guilt.

There are lots of new words and phrases that are now part of our everyday vocabulary: shelter in place, social distancing, herd immunity, xenophobic. I wonder how you can shelter anywhere but “in place.” You can’t really shelter somewhere else.

And I wonder, after this is all over, if some people still want to stay 6 feet away from others, would that be antisocial distancing?

I had to look up herd immunity. It means that “a reduction in the probability of infection that is held to apply to susceptible members of a population in which a significant proportion of the individuals are immune because the chance of coming in contact with an infected individual is less.” That’s a little complicated. I think that this is better explained in Roger Miller’s 1965 album, “The Return of Roger Miller” when he correctly stated “You can’t roller-skate in a buffalo herd.” The less you analyze that, the better.

Maybe there should be a “heard immunity.” If we could be immune from some of the things that we’ve heard, we would be better off.

When President Trump stopped folks coming to the U.S. from China, critics called him xenophobic. I didn’t think that this was too bad for the president at the time, since almost nobody, including me, knew what xenophobic meant. At first glance it would seem to mean a fear of xeno, except there is no word xeno. There is xenon (an inert gas), but that doesn’t apply. “Xeno” comes from the Greek word xenos, which means stranger. Phobia is also from a Greek word phobos, meaning fear. So, being xenophobic is having a fear of strangers. It’s the Greek version of Stranger Danger. Turns out that those strangers from China were dangerous, so xenophobia might be acceptable sometimes.

People who are on fixed incomes have frequently complained about being at a disadvantage. Today being on a fixed income is a blessing.

During this crisis a lot of folks (healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store workers, truck drivers, etc.) have been called unsung heroes. On Facebook you can find lots of music stars posting videos of themselves singing to cheer us up. I guess these folks would be called “sung heroes.”

Through the years, I’ve had a lot of folks call my JP office with a wide variety of excuses for not paying fines in a timely manner. But early on in the crisis I heard a new one. The guy said he couldn’t pay his traffic ticket until he got his coronavirus stimulus check.

Are there good things about the pandemic? Well, the reduced lifestyle is said to be good for the environment with fewer cars on the road. Traffic is better. Gas prices are better. Crime is down.

And many Central Texans are being very caring in helping others.

IF I WERE KING: We would get back to work as soon as safely possible and begin the slow recovery to normalcy.