Monday Musings… The Recklessness of Throwing Caution to the Wind

As I’m writing this, the snow is falling, and the ground is slowly disappearing under a beautiful blanket of snow. Now, I’m most definitely not a winter person, but there is something wonderful about living in Canada and experiencing the transition of the seasons.

But apparently there are a number of Canadians, the Snowbirds as they are so-named, who prefer to escape the cold and frosty weather to sojourn in sunnier spaces to the south. Despite the current covid crisis and lockdowns being re-instated, and the repeated warnings from our federal and provincial government about restricting travel, some bold birds are boasting about their cleverness that is allowing them to ‘beat the system’ and maintain their annual migration.

I couldn’t help but write this blog after reading about a company capitalizing on the woe-filled wishes of stranded seniors yearning for southern comfort. For an affordable price of $500, this company will fly you in their private jet (along with 8 other passengers who definitely would not be 6 m apart) to New York, where you will be able to pick up your RV that they've transported across the border for another $1000. For a non-cash strapped senior this sounds like a plan. You and your RV are on the road again! Just like normal.

But wait! This isn’t normal people! Have they forgotten that we're in the midst of a pandemic? Has the pursuit of pleasure clouded their senses? No, it’s pure selfishness and greed for both parties. Whether that’s the transport companies who are patting themselves on the back for keeping both the snowbirds happy and their workers employed; or these seniors who are throwing caution to the wind, with a devil-may-care attitude, with no apparent worries about getting stuck in Florida with a hefty hospital bill, or, dare I say, transportation costs for migrating a corpse back to Canada for burial. Last time I checked, Florida has had 932,000 covid cases, with an increase of 8,409 cases and 41 deaths on the very day I’m writing this (source: COVID-19 alert Coronavirus disease, Florida, USA). It’s not like their leaving the place of pandemic pandemonium for the safety, security, and serenity of a virus-free state!

One couple, from la belle province de Quebec, justified their trip by saying that they have medical insurance and will stay only within their gated community: “You just do your groceries, you go back to your RV and you have your supper there and that’s it.” This sounds very logical, (though not very vacation-worthy) except for the lapse in judgment that they may be bringing the virus (from Canada or the grocery store) unknowingly to those already present within the walls of their prison in paradise. Just for the sun, they are willing to risk their own lives and those around them?

Another company, with a slightly higher fee, reports that this Boomer business is brisk having transported the vehicles and flown 30 people already, with “hundreds more bookings”. This company even accommodates the essential need of allowing traveller’s pets to join them on the journey. These Snowbirds willingly leave friends and family behind, but not Fido!

Does nobody see the self-indulgence in all of this? Just because you’re older, doesn’t make you wiser!

In the same newsfeed, I read an article about one woman's mission to not have seniors in long term care die alone. Julie Streit, a recreational manager and palliative care team lead in a long term care facility in Kitchener, has made it her mission to hold the hand of the dying, place the phone close to their ear to hear the voice of loved ones who could not be present due to restrictions or vulnerability to covid, or to sing the person's favourite song as they drew their last breath. She willingly provides that human connection that has been restricted to all of us because of this pandemic.

The weight on Streit's mind and heart is no doubt, overwhelming; but she never relents. Her focus is resolute: to provide for the fundamental needs of her patients and her staff. Her selflessness is such an example to all of us. I'm sure she would love to be lounging in a lawn chair in a gated community in Florida. But she has a greater mission, a tireless service of love, because she understands that what's most important in life is not capitalizing on or engaging in the pursuit of personal pleasure. It's about making the most of the time she has to help those who are running out of theirs.

So how reckless, and how thoughtless to chase the sun during these uncertain times; to willingly distance yourself from the friends and family who are left out in the cold in Canada; and to believe that you have all the time in the world left at your disposal. I will not envy you when the temperature drops or the snow banks build, for "he who wants everything every time, will lose everything any time" (Vikrant Parsai).

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