Field Reports, Writing

Field Report: The First Day of Fear

To Gov. Walz and all who are working with him,

I would like to express my sincerest gratitude for the work you are doing with regard to making decisions surrounding the pandemic. The stress you all must feel on a daily basis is practically unfathomable to me. I feel a deep sense of empathy for the pressure and struggles inherent to such decision-making.

I am appalled at those whose primary focus is political, particularly those who are insinuating that your moral compass on this issue is, somehow, the “power” associated with your position. There is a fine line between “power” and “burden,” isn’t there? Making choices for citizens in Minnesota at our current point of extreme divide definitely falls into the latter category.

I wish to believe those of us who understand that burden greatly outnumber those who don’t. It’s just fundamentally harder to scream “WE AGREE WITH YOU” than it is to express anger. As a group, I would love to hold a rally with signs that say “WE TRUST YOU” but the rally would undermine our expression of support that is better demonstrated by staying home. The paradox is definitely real.

I work in a small shipping/mailing business; we were deemed essential at the beginning of the shutdown. There is the owner, myself, and another part-time worker, and six days a week, we have maintained our normal hours and our business has increased significantly. We were certainly not prepared for the influx of customers, assuming that people would stay home out of fear, safety, or both. At first, we were a bit dismayed that people continued coming out, as though they were defying the recommendations to stay home.

Over time, we realized that our business increased BECAUSE people were choosing to stay home. We have mailed over 3000 masks in six weeks. I would venture to say we have seen every grandparent in the surrounding area as they shipped Easter presents, birthday gifts, coloring books and puzzles for no reason whatsoever, photographs, paintings, books upon books, and handwritten letters. They ARE staying home and protecting themselves and their loved ones. We are simply serving as the medium to supplement their honest and safe choice with some connection to their families and friends.

Today is the first day I have honestly felt some trepidation and fear for my safety because of our proximity to Wisconsin and that state’s disastrous Supreme Court decision to open everything immediately. I will process that in my own time and make decisions I feel are best for myself and my loved ones. That is, I believe, what you have been asking us to do all along.

I know you are being pressured to decide things in a way you’d perhaps rather not do. The tentative re-opening of small businesses with new precautions in place is a good compromise while maintaining the peacetime emergency (which it is) in order to make decisions quickly should this compromise prove untenable. I appreciate your thoughtful leadership.

As for the rest of you, I am sure that I, alone, cannot apologize for whatever vitriol and disturbing words you have read and/or heard in the past two months. That, too, is unfathomable to me. At the end of this, if you’d like to compile a book of the very best of the worst, I can promise you I would buy it and do dramatic readings at my earliest convenience. 😊

Again, thank you for all you do. Please take care of yourselves as best you can. And do know that the second we are able, a group of us will stand outside the Capitol and try to happily (is that possible?) chant, “You did a good job.”


Kelly C. Kirby

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