Mary Regan (60) is an English teacher at the United Nations in New York City. After two months, she is back at her Manhattan apartment.
Hi Mary, what’s going on in your neck of the woods?
Today, I went to the UN for the first time in three months, my computer needed fixing.
I thought you were not allowed to enter the premises.
We are if we need to. Most everybody works from home. No one was there. I could even park my car in the garage. I emptied my workstation, lugging three tote bags in mask and gloves at 90 degrees. Then I talked to the tech guy for about an hour, then I went to get the mail for a friend who is back in Spain.
No. She works from there. Some UN staff were allowed by some supervisors to go to their home countries.
How did it feel to be back in the workplace?
It was fun to be back in the real world.
At the beginning you said that lockdown was a godsend for introverts.
I still feel the same, but nevertheless..
Where are you now?
In my apartment. Also for the first time. I did my lockdown in Bronxville, at my sisters’ house. But I might not go back. If I do, I will first quarantine for 2 weeks in my apartment.
Are you careful??
I am. I am not going to travel to the other boroughs to see friends, and right now I do not want anybody in my apartment. But I know that I cannot live like this for much longer – the gloves, the mask, isoliating yourself. I would feel better if I were not in New York City. What about you?
I cannot complain, other than I am separated from my wife who is in the US. The Swiss government did not technically lock us down. There were some restrictions, pubs and stores were closed, but the rest was “recommendations”. My friends went food shopping all the time. I did not. I am in a large house with my 100 year old mother and was careful. But I went jogging in the forest. And I had to do the gardening.
That sounds fun.
Not for me. I don’t like gardening. And I detest some of the stuff she made me plant, like onions.
Your wife should come to Switzerland, it sounds like paradise.
We shall see. She keeps pointing out that the divorce rate of couples in lockdown is up and we were in a much better place being separated and longing for each other. Right now we have hard times in the family – it is me who is trying to get to the US.
You must be one of the few trying to come to America.
What’s the matter with God’s own country. Are you guys losing the rest of your marbles now?
Well, the trigger is obvious, no? The police murdering a man in broad daylight, with people watching and shooting Iphone videos.
Do you see anything of the protests ?
Not on the upper East side where I live. Most of the protests are in Brooklyn. Today, there are 13 protests all day long all over the city, until the curfew.
Do you notice the curfew?
Not much. Yesterday, I saw a few people walking on the street after 8 p.m. They did not seem bothered, they were all white. There you go.
Why do you think the protests are so virulent and so widespread?
I think in New York the people are pent up after two months of Corona lockdown. They can’t stand it any more. And they are hit disproportionately by the virus.
Who do you mean by “they”?
There are white folks protesting too, no?
There is a debate on whether we whites should join or not. Yes, there are lots of whites mixed in. But the protests are against how black America is treated by white America. Some blacks argue for having whites marching with them, and some argue against. I hear that some marches put the whites up front, as human shields, so to speak. I actually think that whites only should march and blacks should stay home and be safe from the virus and the cops. These protests are a big corona risk. It is possible that they will lead to the much talked about second wave.
Do you march?
I would go. But I would feel like a hypocrite and I don’t want to get Covid.
Why a hypocrite?
What we have is a structural problem, structural violence. We live on a daily basis in this structure. Look at me: I order groceries from West Side Market and have them delivered by a person of color.
Wow Mary! an American talking about structural problems when it comes to politics- that’s rare. Normally you hear about “values” and “character” such when it comes to politics. Talking about hypocrisy: There are protests against the Flynn murder even here, in the country with the longest-standing, most powerful right-wing extremism in Europe. Editors who made their careers condoning the far-right are opining smugly about America. What’s your take on politics?
I would like the government to face the structural issues by forcing me to pay higher taxes. We need radical change. Maybe Bernie Sanders would have been a better choice.
Welcome to the club. Do you talk politics with your family?
No. I avoid it as much as possible. It is pointless. The last time was when I mentioned to my brother that it was UN Girls Day to celebrate girls all over the world. His response was “why not celebrate all people?” They don’t acknowledge that certain social factions are oppressed or unequal.
Are you afraid of the police?
No. I am a white woman – well, maybe now. I feel bad for the police, too. Not every cop is horrible. They risk their lives to keep us safe. Many New York police are black or Hispanic.
Has Corona worn down the American sense of humor?The jokes list you sent me has some mediocre stretches.
I did not pick out the good ones, I just sent you the whole list. Did you get the Will Ferrell one?
Here it is on what’sApp.
Love it. I liked “The spread of Covid-19 is based on two things: 1. How dense the population is.2. How dense the population is.” Do you watch the Late Night Comedy Shows?
I do, but not regularly. I love Colbert. Friends say Trevor Noah is good.
He is. You gotta watch Jimmy Kimmel. Politically astute and most to the point.
Ok I check it out. I watch the Irish one, Graham Norton. 5-minute-clips.
Will try him. But they have an accent. Do you miss your dog?
Every day. I miss Remsen so much. You know that the neigbors who complained about him moved out three months after I gave him away.?