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COVID-19, Larry Crowne and the First-Time-Evers

May 30th, 2020 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, will there be a happily ever after for those who fell between the cracks in the COVID-19 restrictions?

Earlier this week, I watched Larry Crowne on television. It is a 2011 Tom Hanks movie which I saw at the theatre and watched a couple of times on television. I am a big Tom Hanks fan, so I enjoyed it one more time. In this period of lockdown, we are spending a lot of time in front of the flat screen re-watching favourite shows and movies.

In the event that you have not seen the movie, (spoiler alert) it is the story of a divorced, middle-aged man who loses his job at a big box store. Circumstances compel him to give up his house, swap his gas-guzzling SUV for a scooter and take a job as a short order cook. He also enrols in a community college and falls for an instructor played by Julia Roberts.

Larry Crowne is a quaint and charming, feel-good flick. However, it occurred to me that the character Larry Crowne could be viewed as a metaphor for the times in which we are living. A large percentage of the working population has been furloughed because of COVID-19. No money coming in to pay the bills, except what can be obtained from the government support program assuming one qualifies.

For those who were unfortunate enough to already be living on the edge financially, it must have been like having the well-worn rug pulled out from under them without warning.

In the townhouse complex I live in, several units were vacated abruptly in the early weeks of the lockdown. These were not end of the month, moving to a bigger place situations. They had all the earmarks of our bank account is empty, we’re behind on the rent/mortage, we’re out of options bug outs.

I feel for this people whose livelihoods, one might argue, have been sacrificed for the proverbial greater good.

It can be said that there were no better alternatives under the circumstances. But that is small comfort to the people affected. I confess that I am conflicted on this point. I am one of the lucky ones whose job has continued uninterrupted beyond the requirement to work at home. A part of me feels guilty at my good fortune.

Unprecedented decisions with far reaching ramifications were made, by those in positions of authority whose job descriptions include difficult judgment calls, in the interest of the health and safety of the public.

Not everyone agrees with those decisions. Last weekend, a thousand people gathered in Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park to express their displeasure. While I do not condone their behaviour, I understand it to be a calculated act of civil disobedience to make a point.

We have experienced a lot of first-time-evers in the last couple of months. For the first-time-ever, heathy people were effectively quarantined. For the first-time-ever, shopping malls became ghost towns for an indefinite period. For the first-time-ever, physical distancing became not rude, but a legal requirement and a social imperative.

COVID-19 was the impetus to change the rules. And oh my, change they did. For better or for worse, civil liberties have been compromised in the short term. Some contend things will never go back to the way they used to be. I get an uneasy feeling when I hear that proclamation. When the rules are bent, experience shows that the pendulum often does not shift back all the way.

In the movie, Larry Crowne lived happily ever after. Sadly, that will not be the case for many in the current circumstances.

Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at .

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