At 8pm we step outside. On the balcony, the porch, the stoop, the sidewalk. Or maybe we just hang our heads out the window.
And we howl.
The nightly howl started in Denver, apparently, although it has its roots in California. The person who first explained it to me said it was to honor healthcare workers who are risking their lives (even more than normal) during the coronavirus pandemic, although it can mean other things, as well.
I like the honoring healthcare workers interpretation. And I guess I’d go beyond that. The COVID-19 crisis has reminded us – because way too many of us had forgotten – what it means to be essential. Doctors, nurses, PAs, anesthesiologists, lab techs, and a lot of other folks in the medical field are essential.
Before now who ever realized that the people in grocery stores were heroes? But they go to work every day to serve customers who may well be carriers. The cashier, the stock boy, the folks at the meat counter – they’re literally risking their lives so we can eat during the pandemic.
Who else is essential to the functioning of society? Well, here’s some of what the state of Massachusetts has to say:
- Physical therapists
- Medical researchers
- Embroidery/fabric makers for medical personnel and first responders
- Security officers
- Delivery services (Door Dash, Grubhub)
- Energy manufacturers and distributors of equipment and parts
- Rideshare drivers
- Towing services
- Vehicle repair
- Marine mechanics
- Bicycle repair services
- Printing services considered an essential communication function? YES if media
- Veterinary services, kennels and day pet care facilities
- Property management firms and landlords
- Recycling facilities an essential service?
- Nonprofits serving elderly communities
- RV parks open year-round for housing
- Storm clean-up operations
- Hotels and other lodging
- Inspection services (e.g. fire systems, home code inspections etc.
- Landscaping (providing services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, businesses, etc)
- Municipal public works employees
- Electrical contractors
- Public works contractors (for emergency calls)
- Pest control
- Convenience Stores
- Office supply/electronics stores (if selling hardware, home appliances or other essentials)
- Hardware stores
- Casket manufacturer for funerals
I hope we’ll all take note of these, as well as other professions that are critical to a thriving nation – like teachers, for instance.
And if we read the list carefully and take note of who isn’t essential, maybe there are lessons to be learned there, as well.
So let’s all go outside each night at 8 as long as the crisis lasts to howl for those people risking their lives to keep us healthy during an unprecedented time.
Also I want us to keep doing it after COVID is gone.
Every night, for the rest of our lives, I think it would be great if we took a moment to remind ourselves and our neighbors about our priorities as a society. And if those howls – of solidarity, of empathy, of support, of primal joy, even – happen to drift over the gates and disturb the self-satisfaction of those who imagine themselves indispensable, well, we can live with that, can’t we?