It was on a one cold Saturday morning in Winnipeg, Canada when I saw that strange sight. About a block away, I spotted a police officer using a snow blower.
You see, Winnipeg is one of the coldest cities in North and you could get frost bite just walking out of your home. So, you did not dawdle much. If you did stop to talk with people, it was usually some joke about the weather or to offer help in pushing their car out of the snow. It is a cold, but friendly place.
So, I felt kind of sorry for the officer having to use a snow blower on this freeze-you-face kind of day. I thought that I I could stop by and make a joke about the city trying to save money by giving him extra duties.
It seemed like a good idea. At least, up until I saw the body on the ground wrapped in a large white cloth.
Ahhhh, maybe I would keep walking and let the guy do his job. (My thanks to the hard-working members of Winnipeg Police Department. Brian, Matt, Brad and Jen. You are all amazing.)
That was Winnipeg for you. Canada’s murder and arson capital.
Yet, I liked the resilience of the people who lived there. They were generally friendly, loved their sports and arts (Royal Winnipeg Ballet) and were usually willing to stop and help out a stranded motorist. I was there during outbreak of the Avian Flu, SARS and West Nile Virus, as well as the Anthrax threat. But, I never saw a single medical mask, over concerns with hand washing or any quarantine. People continued to go to work, school, sports events and parties. There was no way that any fan in this city was going to miss their hockey or football games.
I might say something similar when I was peacekeeping in the former Yugoslavia. Mortar bombs and gunshots were part of normal life for the Serbian town of Benkovac. After the smoke from a mortar attack cleared, the locals would go to town, work or school. 10 year old kids were driving horse-drawn or motorized carts with their family in the back.
Here was a place where there was a greater chance of getting shot or blown up than dying of something like Corona virus. Yet, the people did not panic. They dealt with the hardships.
Now here I am in Vancouver, Canada on the beautiful west coast where COVID19 is a big concern. At the time of this writing, schools in Japan are closing for a week or two, public events are being shut down, cruise vacations are being cancelled and Italy has quarantined over 16 million people.
Wow. The world is in panic mode. I am not saying that COVID19 is not dangerous. But, I am saying that more people in Vancouver have been dying from heart disease, accidents, stroke, influenza, pneumonia (survived that three times as a kid), diabetes and drug overdoses than from this current threat.
I am not sure which is worse: the threat of this latest virus or the ensuing stress and fear of it. Until the government orders me to stay at home for two weeks, I am going to continue to engage with my community and continue to live and work as usual.
I think rather than panicking, I will use my time researching immune-building practices and or how prevalent this problem really is. Maybe I can score a super cheap travel package. And if I do get quarantined in my home, on a ship or in some exotic country? It might be a good time to test some new workouts, catch up on some reading and writing or learn a new language.
I would still be better off than the guy in that sheet-wrapped body in the snow.