This weekend, I saw a man riding a bike up and down the aisle of the Safeway on Rainier Avenue. What was strange about this was how it seemed not that unusual. Shoppers didn't seem to take much notice of him, and the store's operators paid him no mind. What this lack of surprise or interest revealed was that the city finally realized or become accustomed to the fact that it had entered a looking-glass on March 16, the day the lockdown began. What was once familiar was now unfamiliar; and what was once unfamiliar was now familiar.
Two month ago, almost all Americans believed they would go through life without ever wearing a face mask in public. Only freaks and foreign-looking people did that sort of thing. Today, it is almost abnormal or irresponsible not to wear one in a grocery or on the train or in a park.
On March 11, I wrote about how there should be a moratorium on rent and mortgages. Many of my readers and friends laughed at the idea. It will never happen. Can I have what ever it is you're smoking? And so on. Today, such a proposal is even blasé. What appears strange instead is that leaders like Mayor Jenny Durkan believed that the moratorium on evictions should last for only one month. Even its recent extension to June 4 seems too optimistic. That day is not that far away.
The more time we spend in the world and in the constrained economy of the pandemic, the stranger things have to be to make a real impression on us. Riding a bike around a Safeway is just not weird enough anymore.