Here we are, finishing up five weeks of true disruption of the national economy. Here, schools closed in mid-March, with Friday the 13th being the last time my kids stepped into their building. While the return date got pushed back a couple of times, eventually last week the order came to keep them closed for the rest of the school year. Given that both of my kids are moving up into new buildings next season, they didn’t realize that when they left back then, it was for good. Except for finding a time to clean out lockers or return band instruments, that chapter closed with what seemed like pages to go.
While that’s a disruption to routine, for many others this has been much more of an issue. Local businesses have taken huge hits. Arkansas isn’t under a “stay at home” order, but all restaurants are closed for in-house dining and while most have been able to adapt to drive through or delivery options, it isn’t the same. Not to mention, of course, those that relied on tips to supplement what they were getting paid. Some of the government programs have helped, but with currently the small business loan program out of money, it’s hard to know what is going to survive and what is going to shutter during this time.
So here’s my encouragement, not that you need it, to help out your local folks if you have the means to do so. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to work throughout this whole thing and my regular paycheck is going farther when you don’t do anything but drive the mile to work and the mile back. Gas purchases are much smaller and while the grocery bills seem bigger, it’s probably in part because I’m not going every day. We’ve had a lot less waste and overall, the paycheck seems to go a little farther. Which is one reason we’ve tried to, once a week, order from a local restaurant to help them in this time.
Local businesses are one thing, but there are some local folks that are, as we say, on the gig economy that could probably use a little help as well. We’ve talked about this before, I know, but it doesn’t hurt to bring it up again. These are folks that really need help because there’s not a lot of safety net beneath them.
There was a discussion recently on Twitter comparing the plight of minor leaguers to the plight of musicians and other artists trying to “chase the dream”, as it were. I don’t want to get into the merits of that (and there are some significant differences between the two) but I do want to highlight that a lot of those local musicians, for instance, had a ton of gigs coming up, bookings that will likely never happen. That’s their livelihood in many cases and while they’ve been able to pivot some to things like Facebook Live or other options to get their music out, they still need some money coming in.
I think about this because, in our town, we’ve got a local musician named Robb McCormick (also known as Some Guy Named Robb). Robb and I went to school together–he was a year older–and remarkably were in the high school choir together, holding down a small tenor section. Thankfully for everyone involved, accounting doesn’t require singing but Robb had a knack for singing and songwriting and has been doing this for a long, long time now. You’ll find him playing at a lot of local functions, plenty of dining venues, or even can be booked for your private party.
If you listened to the old Conversations With C70 (which is pretty much mothballed now with Meet Me at Musial and Gateway to Baseball Heaven taking up so much time), you’ve heard a sample of what Robb can do. The theme song from that was a takeoff on one of his other songs, “PBS Junkie” and he tweaked the lyrics I provided him to make things much, much better.
Robb’s continuing to be out there, doing Facebook shows and the like. He’s got his Patreon going and it seems like folks are more open to that during this crisis as he recently saw a spike in folks contributing. He’s hustling and he’s doing it in good spirits, which is so admirable.
Perhaps your community has a guy like Robb, a guy doing his music or art or writing that needs some support in this time. If you don’t know of one, ask around to see if someone else knows one. If you’ve got the means, give them a few dollars. The money is great but the support is even more valuable. And if your community DOESN’T have such a guy, support Robb. If nothing else, you can get a ton of music out of it.
In case you didn’t remember the old theme song or never have heard it. here you go!
Click on it and give it a listen. (And if it doesn’t work, hit me up on Twitter and I’ll get you a copy somehow.) If you like it, there’s plenty more of that style where this came from!