Earlier this week I was recalling a conversation with a futures trader on my way back to Los Angeles from San Francisco. I had flown up for the day on business and on a chilly January evening, took a flight home. Next to me on this Delta flight, was a very nice business man who had hurriedly taken his seat as we were getting ready to close the cabin door and take off. As the flight was getting ready to take off, he turned to me to ask me if I had been following the news about the Coronavirus outbreak in China. I told him that I worked in luxury retail, and the company I work for has a large consumer base in Asia and yes, I had my ears and eyes on it, but not too closely.
What he said to me next, still resonates in my head. Even today, well over a year ago. He said to me in a very calm way, “I would encourage you to start planning for a shutdown of businesses in the United States. And I would suggest you secure enough food, medication and supplies for at least a month.” Now, I would normally look at someone like they had three heads if they told me something like that. I would say yes and nod my head just to shut them up and then pretend like I was taking a nap. But something about the look in his eye, told me this was a sane person, spreading the word of what was to come. I asked him what he did for a living to able to have this insight. He explained to me that he was a futures trader, and the affiliates in China were sending them the alarming images of what was really happening across the Pacific. He proceeded to show me market data and a couple of pretty horrible videos of what was happening.
If you have ever taken any flight from LA to San Francisco, you are literally up in the air long enough to get a bottle of water and then down you go. It’s a super quick flight. It was enough time for this gentleman to send the message my way, and for it to sink in my tired head for a minute.
Upon deplaning, I thanked him and told him to take care of himself and he wished me the same. When my husband picked me up from the airport, I told him what this random guy had said to me. I told him I would go out that weekend and stock up. Best case scenario is that we are stocked for a few months, worst case is what he was saying was true. My husband calmly agreed without debate. I think back now and think maybe he also suspected something was to come.
At the end of this month, will be a year since my husband lost his job. He is one of those folks where his industry has changed so much that finding the same job that he held for all of his adult life will not come back in its original form. Perhaps a semblance of it, but we still don’t know as his industry has not even come close to recovery. My industry rebounded in the very same place it collapsed: China. I’m still employed but my industry faces its own challenges like so many around us.
One thing is certain though, there is no certainty. This has taught me resilience and gratitude but it has also taught me that designer bag in my closet means nothing in the face of a pandemic, nor it is worth anything to anyone. It taught me to make the most of everything all the time. Through the strange solitude that some of us faced, either by chance or by design, we have lived more mindfully I think. I sometimes wonder if this halt of life was intended for us to learn something from it? For humanity to be more conscious? I don’t know, but my mind often turns to this question.
It’s not over by a long shot, my family’s perimeter has suffered much loss of family. Some old and some way too young, but all accelerated by this virus.
As I write this, my cousins and I are texting about celebrating one of their kids second birthday in July. The hopes that we will all be vaccinated and be able to gather in a small group to celebrate life. A second birthday filled with cake, toys, good food, stories, photos and most importantly, family.
Until next time friends, keep well and healthy.