The signs we display say a lot about our approach to life’s biggest challenge in July, 2020.
No one would question that life this year has been bizarre. I’m still waiting for that first photoshoot since February. Maybe it will happen this week, but I’m not going to be surprised or upset if it doesn’t. There are too many challenges. The National Weather Service this morning issued a heat advisory for all of Central Indiana for today from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM with warnings of heat indices over 105 degrees. Tomorrow may not be any better, nor the day after that. Shoot indoors, you say? Where? I’ve yet to find an indoor location that is both suitable to the content and appropriately sanitized against the virus. If you know of such a place, please share.
This situation leaves me with a conundrum each week of whether to re-process and re-imagine work from the archives, as we’ve done often, publish pictures of the kids, which we’ve done a few times, or go with something more random and timely, which we’ve done once. I’ll admit to not feeling terribly motivated by any of those options. I’d skip this week completely if I wasn’t afraid that with everything else going on you’d completely forget I exist if I didn’t regularly remind you that I’m still here, still hanging on, pining for days when I’m shooting something exciting every week. So, we went with a topic more documentary than anything, just to have new pictures to post.
One thing of which we are now certain is that this damned pandemic is going to roil this entire year and probably next year as well, at least in the United States. Why? We’re stupid and we lack substantive leadership. Our so-called president has decided that the virus is a distraction and doesn’t want to be bothered. Daily, he proves himself a fool. Even if he was capable of the leadership necessary, however, a formidable portion of the US population is just stupid. There’s no other reasonable explanation for why people didn’t wear masks and stay home and shut this thing down in March and April like every other developed industrialized country in the world did. NO ONE is continuing to face increasing infection rates as high as we are. Yet, I see doctors re-stating the obvious each morning: if everyone wore a mask, the virus would be contained within two weeks, a month, max. That this hasn’t yet happened is disgusting.
As a result of failed leadership across the US, corporate entities, trying desperately to remain solvent, stepped up this week and began requiring masks in their stores. And while the cynics among us are waiting gleefully with cameras in hand for when the requirement at Walmart goes into effect this week, many of us are questioning why we had to wait this long for such a substantial response. Indianapolis has been under a mask mandate in public for the better part of two weeks now and I’m still cautious when going to the grocery store because no one wants to be the “bad guy” who enforces the safety measure.
The recent corporate decisions, however, have spurred a requirement for new signage. In most cases, local stores were sent images to print out and tape to their front doors. Larger entities, such as Kroger and Home Depot, have more professional signage. Knowing this, and being completely clueless as to what else to photograph this week, we went to our nearest strip mall and took pictures of the variations of signs informing customers of the need to mask up. The result was marginally interesting. Some were adamant with a “do it or else” tone. Others gave a, “hey, it’s not our fault,” message. A couple came at it from the perspective of personal responsibility, not that Americans have a clue what that is.
What we ended up with is some of the most boring pictures I’ve ever shot. Really. Grass growing in the front yard would be more exciting. I tried adding some artistic nuance to them in the processing, but even that feels too much like a giant, “UGH!” How many different ways can one say, “Hey stupid, wear a mask!” None of the ones we saw were imaginative to any degree. Dealing with my own reflection in the glass doors didn’t help any, either. Still, there is some, perhaps minimal, documentary value in recording how we’re (not) handling this situation. I apologize for not being more exciting this week. Maybe next week will be better.
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