One of the lens through which I look at life, as a person with a life time mobility disability, is musical chairs. I believe that game fosters competition and getting your own needs met, regardless of the needs of others. Self obsessed competition fosters the myth of the meritocracy, and ignores privilege. The most obvious privilege that I recall from my childhood was physical talent. Success was defined by the ability to win games.
Musical chairs came into my life when I started commuting by mass transit. I soon realized that I wasn’t sitting down because I wasn’t fast enough. I began to say “I suck at musical chairs.” Of course crowded mass transit trains feel like half a lifetime ago.
I believe we are still seeing self obsessed competition. When we talk about “everybody working from home” we are forgetting the essential workers who are keeping our lights on, our heat running, and delivering our groceries. I have been on mass transit during the pandemic, I saw very few white people. I want to suggest that pandemic hoarding is also about musical chairs. I need to make sure that MY needs are met, regardless of the needs of my neighbor.
Then there is the vaccine. Who has been vaccinated? I am delighted that my 91 year old mother has been vaccinated. I am delighted that first responders are being vaccinated. I have heard stories about SUVs with NJ plates parked outside vaccination hubs in NYC. That’s about privilege on so many levels, it’s probably not even conscious. Again, the drive to get your needs met, regardless of the needs of others.
I live in NJ. I have heard stories of vaccine appointments obtained after spending hours on the phone. To those who have urged me to be proactive, and check a dozen different places, I say I just don’t have the time. I am really extraordinarily fortunate to be working full time. I have commitments outside of my work that fill up my day. I have neither the time or the inclination to spend hours on the phone.
So I have decided to decline to play musical chairs because that never ends well. I have registered where I am supposed to register, and I am waiting for a response. I will be vaccinated some time before I am expected to return to my office.