Collateral damage is a term I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.
One definition of it is: “the unintentional or accidental damage to people or things that happens as a result of an action or event.”
In wartime, collateral damage refers to innocent people whose lives are lost in the fog of war. But the term is equally relevant when assessing the fallout of this pandemic. I have to wonder the extent of the damage done to lives and careers of our fellow Las Vegans when all the dust, or bacteria, from the coronavirus has drifted away … if it ever fully does.
How many will the virus have killed? How many will it have driven into early retirement or permanently out of Las Vegas for either emotional or economic reasons? How many careers has it stifled or redirected?
Without getting too macabre, I know of at least five suicides that occurred as a direct result of the economic meltdown of 2008-09. Two of my friends told me their wives had left them because their bank accounts had been irreparably depleted. I told both there was a great country song hidden behind their stories, and they should write it as a form of therapy. They didn’t find humor in that.
Maybe, if I survive this evil stuff, I’ll do a column on the fallout 18 months from now. My guess is I’ll be reporting that Las Vegas once again proved its resiliency by rebounding from an event that had apocalyptic potential. At least I hope that’s the case. But until we have the perspective that time provides, let’s look at some of the upside of this madness.
I’m certain our three dogs and two cats have had an absolute blast since early March. The dogs get at least one long walk every single day and they get to sniff and gossip with the neighbor dogs about how their stock portfolios are holding up, why their masters’ fashion choices these days are a little sketchy, and whose front yard has the most aromatic fragrance of another mutt’s daily sprinkle target.
In a sense, we’ve all been living a dog’s life for the last two months. And the cats love curling up on the warmest lap during the long periods of tube watching. But cats of course are easier to please. They just don’t want to be bothered.
We’ve learned we can live without sporting competitions, although I have to stretch a little to find reason to smile on that front. As a lifelong competitive golfer and follower of the sport at the highest levels, I take solace in the fact that we will have three major men’s championships played in the last four months of this year, and a total of seven in the next 16 months. With the Olympic Games being postponed until next year and all the other major men’s and women’s sports trying to cram two seasons into one, we should have a rich banquet of viewing choices.
Our family has been reunited during the last two months, which may be the biggest gift provided by this plague. While we always gather for holidays and vacations, as do many families, this extended stretch of two months where we were locked up together provided a lot of laughs. There was a steady dose of binge-watching old series like Game of Thrones (brilliant and magical), and new stuff like Tiger King (idiotic but compelling).
Maybe the most positive aspect to come from this collective dropping of the curtain is that we’ve all been fed a large dose of perspective. If we didn’t appreciate the quality of our lives through mid-February of this year, we certainly should now.
Joining on the spur of the moment with friends for dinner or a cocktail used to be an automatic response. Now we will treasure that opportunity. Worshipping at our churches in a crowd, or collectively cheering the Golden Knights to another inspiring win in a raucous gathering at T-Mobile Arena — both taken for granted four months ago — will now feel like a distinct privilege.
Perspective might be the best gift we receive this year.