Who is essential?

Plus: a wood stove in these dark times

Hi folks -

This morning I drove my partner through a snow storm to her second day on the job as a Whole Foods shopper. She’s the one who gets your online order and goes through the store to get your food for you.

To be clear: she retired early from her lawyering career and doesn’t actually need this job. So, why’d she apply? Because grocery store employees are essential workers, and thus: she’s now at the front of the line for vaccines. Mind you, she still hasn’t been able to get an actual appointment, but at least now she is eligible. Me, on the other hand — some time in July, says the Biden administration.

I guess these are the times we live in.

And so while I can work safely from home, she had to get to work. We scraped the ice off our car, and I drove her over slick roads down Goldsboro, left on River, until we got to Whole Foods. The roads were empty, except for the essential workers getting to their jobs so the rest of us can eat, keep our homes warm and our lights on.

🔧 All praise to the plumbers

About the time my partner was applying to become an essential worker, I was dealing with a near plumbing-related disaster up at my New Hampshire house.

My friend who has been staying in the apartment I’ve spent the last year renovating texted me to say the kitchen sink had stopped draining. Instead, water was backing up into the shower pan in the bathroom. Which meant somewhere between the kitchen sink and the septic pump there was a blockage.

I mean: it has been weeks since the temperature there has climbed above freezing. The issue (as we found out when plumbers arrived two days later) was the septic pump chamber was frozen solid. That’s a fixable issue long-term, but the point is this: plumbers are among the most essential.

However much you appreciate indoor plumbing, I assure you: you don’t appreciate it enough.

I can’t help but think to myself that the world could go on just fine without the marketing professionals, and even the writers. But it would devolve into disaster pretty quick without the plumbers, the electricians, and the farmers.

My bill was $395 for them just to come out, $160 for the time past an hour it took them to fix the issue, and another $150 “emergency fee,” because, as their scheduler told me over the phone, “We’re so busy we’re adding a surcharge to everyone.”

By the way, shout out to Rowell’s Plumbing: they came out, they did their job, and I paid them gratefully. They have very good customer service, which is more than I can say for a majority of plumbers I’ve been in contact with recently.

🌨️ Stay Warm, Texas

This week, a friend of mine in Austin, TX stayed 37 hours in her apartment with no electricity as the temperature outside plunged to 9 degrees. After that, she bailed and fled to a friend’s house who did have electricity — and water.

A lot of the disaster in Texas got very political very quickly (did we expect anything else?) — but rather than dwell on the politics, I want to make a plug here for wood burning stoves.

As temperatures plunged in New Hampshire last winter and raging wind storms threatened to take down power lines, at least I could be assured that if worse came to worst, we could put some wood in the stove, throw down some mattresses, and sleep right there in the living room.

There’s nothing like a stove and a chimney and a stack of wood to get you through a cold night.

🛣️ Essential Workers Aside, The Interintellect is the Human Connection We Need Now

A few weeks ago I hosted my first Interintellect salon, about Hunter S. Thompson’s Ninth Path letter. I was nervous — Interintellect founder Anna Gát had warned me that small salons are “intense” — but ultimately it was an incredibly engaging and gratifying discussion about life paths, how we find purpose, and the frameworks we use to decide how to choose a direction.

If you STILL haven’t heard of the Interintellect, I encourage you to go check them out, peruse their salons, and sign up for whatever interests you post haste. Especially in these dark times, the Interintellect is filling a crucial need for fostering human connection, learning, and deep discussion.