I’m a worrier by nature. So is my mother. So was my father. I have genetic agita.
But I wasn’t very concerned about ebola initially, when it was coursing through West Africa. To be sure, I would have canceled any travel plans I may have had to go to West Africa, but I never would have made travel plans to go to West Africa in the first place, because I would have been worried about all the immunizations you probably have to get to go there.
Even when ebola showed up in Dallas, I shrugged it off. I’ve been to Dallas a few times, and, frankly, I didn’t really care for it. They have too much weather there. I haven’t once flown in or out of that place without having to endure delays due to monstrous thunder storms. And, besides, Dallas is in Texas. I wouldn’t want to suggest that the state could benefit from some thinning of its population, but, really, the folks who demand “Texas editions” of school textbooks should at least come down with a hacking cough.
Then, a few days ago, a case of ebola was confirmed in New York. The next state over. A short drive down the Hutchinson River Parkway. And I still kept my cool, primarily because I hardly ever leave the house. If I catch a cold, I can pretty much accuse my wife of being patient zero.
No sir, even with that deadly disease getting closer and closer, I did not panic…until authorities started saying: DO NOT PANIC.
Now I’m worried.
Suddenly, every newscast begins with
Meanwhile, they’re showing footage of all these people running around in their spacesuits.
Then they cut to “team coverage” from every place the ebola victim, Dr. Craig Spenser, has been since returning from West Africa (“a bowling alley in Brooklyn!” “The High Line!” “The A Train!”).
This is followed by the inevitable medical expert telling us just how difficult it is to catch ebola; that it’s not an airborne virus; that it can only be passed along through contact, preferrably French kissing; that simply being in the same subway car with a victim doesn’t put you at risk; that victims aren’t contagious until they show symptoms; that you can’t e-mail it to someone. And while the medical expert is saying all this, there’s that bar at the bottom of the TV screen:
“MAYOR TO NYERS: ‘DON’T PANIC!’”
Clearly, TV news would love us to panic. It’s good for ratings. Even if we shouldn’t panic now, we’ll keep tuning in to find out when we should panic.
If they really wanted us not to panic, they’d stop referring to “the ebola outbreak.” It’s one friggin’ guy, for Pete’s sake. That’s not an outbreak; it’s a sick person. And it’s not like there’s a mystery as to how he caught ebola: he was just in West Africa. Treating ebola patients. And, by the way, can’t they come up with more than one photograph of poor Dr. Spenser? I’m really sick of this one.
A lot of people get their news from the Internet now, but, for some reason, the web can’t reach the fevered pitch of not panicking that TV anchor people have mastered. The best it can do is hit you with links like “Mayor’s shocking plea to residents” or “Disease containment fail“ or “JLo stuns in leather hazmat dress.”
On the Internet, you won’t see a local reporter interviewing a woman who is mopping the floor of a subway car. “They’re using a stronger bleach solution to clean bodily fluids in the cars,” we are told. Yikes! How much bodily fluid is there in the NYC subways?
The talking heads on TV news have mastered the art of non-alarmed alarm. With their newly designed “EBOLA CRISIS” logo as a backdrop, they say things like, “It’s very important that we all REMAIN CALM!”
“You’re absolutely right, Chuck,” the other anchorperson will say. “They seem to have things UNDER CONTROL! There’s no reason to STOCK UP ON BOTTLED WATER!”
“Yes, Mary, everyone should just go about THEIR DAILY LIVES.”
“And now we go to live Rafael Johnson to report on a possible gas shortage.”
“Thank you, Mary. I’m here at this Exxon station where there are only two cars here now, but LINES ARE EXPECTED as authorities tells people NOT TO PANIC and there’s no reason to EVACUATE THE CITY….”
But, seriously folks, there really is no reason to panic. Unless…
…Dr. Spenser did have his own bowling ball, right?
See you soon.
P.S. Anybody want to place bets on if they’ll soon start telling us how safe it is to vote next week? “No reason not to touch those levers everyone else is touching,” they’ll tell us. “Ebola cannot be passed along by participating in the democratic process.”
Just know if you bet against that happening, when you pay me, I’ll be soaking your check in Purell.