Skip to content

Letter From Home “State Street Without People” 3/19/20

March 19, 2020

I have been watching the oil markets, and local gasoline prices, and decided that late tonight it would be a good time to fill up our car. We have not been driving, as of late, given the pandemic situation, but it goes without saying that having a full tank in the car just in case something happens is a wise move.  In fact, we have not been out and about other than neighborhood walks since Monday afternoon.

As James and I left our driveway and traveled along the streets there was one word that came to mind. Surreal.

There were so few cars on the streets it felt like back home in a small town. Almost all the businesses are shut,  the bars and restaurants dark, one of the large Walgreen stores closed because not so far away there is an even larger one, and that’s the one which remains open for people to do their business.

As we drove along I noticed some service stations had gasoline for $1.87 and I saw even one BP station selling gas for $1.79.  The prices are low but it goes without saying there are not a lot of places to be driving.  Unless you’re going for Sunday type drives.

Which I think will be coming back as people will want to get out and do something and just traveling out into the country and going somewhere might come back into fashion. Something that our parents and grandparents used to do and relish on the weekends back when they were raising families.  There will be no stops for chats with friends or popping in for dinner anywhere but the traveling and sightseeing might just feel good after being homebound.

Just a couple of blocks from our home, as we left our driveway and decided which direction to proceed, I heard the train whistle off in the distance and soon the flashing red lights of the tracks ahead of us were beckoning.  We came to a stop but we could have easily passed in front of the train and made it without any problem.  But why?  We put the window down and listened to the rumble of the train.  It seems quaint, and perhaps old fashioned to say such an event was rather fun.  I put an arm out the window and made the down motion which the conductor saw.  He waved and let a long horn blast out into the foggy night.  About 35 cars passed on the tracks and then I lost count.

After getting our tank full (while wearing plastic gloves and then discarding them) we proceeded up East Washington and around Capitol Square.  I saw exactly two people, both of them were homeless and hunkered down in a position near one of the benches. But other than that there was nothing to be seen.  Every business was dark.  It was desolate looking.

But it was looking down State Street, from the Capitol towards the University of Wisconsin, that stunned me.  There was nothing on the street to be seen. Not a bus,  Not a person, or biker.  The entire street was nothing like I have ever before seen.  

It was surreal.

I know there are countless scenes around the nation which can vie with what we saw tonight, and many more to be racked up as he head into the worst of this pandemic.  But if we can find the train whistle and a friendly conductor we will make it through this time.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: