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Putting COVID-19 anger into perspective

By Walter Geiger I broke quarantine over the weekend and went to Athens to help the youngest move into her new apartment. She will be a junior at UGA this fall and we couldn’t be prouder of her and her big sister. We caught a break this time around. The new apartment is on the ground floor and her patio door was actually a roll-up type garage door. That meant no elevators, no steps and no hallways. We walked around a corner of the building from the parking lot and right inside. Never had college moving been so good. Previous moves to and in Athens for her and her sister involved trips to the tops of high rise housing units carrying bulky items like futons and dorm refrigerators. This trip was a rare little slice of moving heaven. People who attended UGA get a thrill going back to the place where they became adults. I am no different. There is an undercurrent of excitement one immediately picks up on just being in Athens and on campus. It is where the action is. No offense, Milner. I wondered how it would feel there in (obligatory) these troubled times. There were some kids wearing masks but most were not. I have it on good authority COVID-19 is running rampant among students in Athens. The vast majority of those who got it were lightly impacted. They had symptoms of a cold or bad sinus infection with loss of taste and smell and that’s about it. Those who have not gotten it want to get it and get it over with. They are all-in on herd immunity. COVID-19 has changed things there, however. There is a ripple of anxiety you can sense. The four roommates did not talk about the virus unless the adults brought it up. They are sisters in the same sorority and missed last Spring living in the Phi Mu house and all the social activities that go along with it. As juniors, they have big rolls to play in sorority rush. Instead of throngs of freshmen girls visiting all the houses trying to find a place where they belong, rush will be done virtually this fall. Rush is one of the traditions that goes back generations at UGA and on campuses around the country. The thought of having that experience taken away from these freshmen angered me. I rode past looming Sanford Stadium, sitting empty in the hot Georgia sun. It is unlikely to fill to capacity and rock with the excitement on Saturdays this fall as it has for my lifetime. It is unlikely the streets, parking lots and lawns around it will be filled with tailgaters who have passed the tradition on to generation after generation. That angered me. I rode past the practice field and I could see footballs flying through the air above the blackout fencing. I thought about the young men preparing for football season. For them, suiting up for the Dawgs is the reward for years of practice and the culmination of many childhood dreams. It may not happen for them. They also could miss the chance to earn lucrative pro contracts which would allow more than a few to drag their families out of poverty once and for all. All that is threatened and that angered me. That night I lay in bed exhausted and wondering where to direct all my anger. In the wee hours my phone started buzzing. A Lamar County deputy had been shot and was being airlifted to an Atlanta trauma center. As I rolled out of bed, I realized all the crises I had created the day before were trivial compared to this deputy’s plight. The shooting severely angered me but, at least, I know where to direct that anger. That is a column for another day.

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