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Good morning, class. Welcome to week one of “Surviving the Next Pandemic.” I’m your instructor – Cameron Toe. In this course, we’ll apply knowledge of the recent – sorry, I mean ongoing – coronavirus pandemic to understand how to prepare yourselves for the next pandemic. Personally, I had a marvellous experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given how smoothly everything went for me, I wanted to pass along my knowledge.
Objective: Some of you are wondering why you should take this course. You just survived one pandemic – do you really need to start preparing for another one already? Well, to those people, I say – shut up! I’m the teacher, and I’m talking. Mute your zooms if you’re so annoyed about it!
Necessary Resources: I’ve printed out the top 100 most popular tweets from March 9–20, 2020. These tweets best capture the isolation and fear we felt as we lurched into the coronavirus pandemic, and I believe they’ll be helpful to get you in the right mindset to survive the next pandemic. Yes, you’ll see I’ve included a few of my own, and no, they might not have the “numbers” of other tweets on this list, but I have a bit of a cult following. So, you’re welcome, and stop complaining.
Week 1: Stocking Up
In week 1, we’ll cover what supplies you should have ready in your house in the event another pandemic strikes. If you’re anything like me, you purchased a bottle of hand sanitizer for $120 on March 11th because– oh, what’s that? You’re not anything like me? And you already have several dozen cans of “tuna” in your “basement.” Well, why don’t you just get a Ph.D. in pandemic survival, then, because clearly this class is too good for you. If not, all I can say is: buy your canned tuna, your canned chicken, your canned spam, and your canned beef. And if you’re a vegetarian, well, I just can’t help you.
Week 2: Location Location Location
I’m not going to recommend you become a survivalist who buys a log cabin in the middle of Vermont. But what I am going to recommend is that if you buy one, you get an air mattress, because you never know which of your friends may be stuck in Brooklyn with their 14 roommates and want an escape. Oh – sorry – you guys all like your roommates? Well, isn’t that nice for you. I guess you don’t need me after all!
Week 3: Socializing
As we all learned this year, it’s hard to make friends during a pandemic, which means the optimal strategy is to already have friends. For example, I went on Twitter every day and saw my fellow teachers espouse the benefits of “social connection” during these isolating times, which was interesting, because one of those teachers was my friend Stu who never returns my emails. Anyway, in week 3, we will discuss how to form new social bonds that will carry you through another lockdown. I’ll give you all a chance to chat with one another, and maybe you can pick up a friend or two in this class. You could even chat with me – oh, you don’t want to be my friend? You just want me to teach you how to survive? That’s a little rude. I expected the COVID pandemic to fill us all with a bit more compassion. I’m giving you all an F for week 3. Because I care.
Week 4: Appointments
This is perhaps the most important week, or at least, the week most likely to make you say, “hey – that’s actually pretty good advice.” Go to the dentist, change the ignition thing-y in your car (I don’t drive, but I’d love a ride), and consider getting physical therapy for the back injury that never healed because you turned 30 and all of a sudden standing up from the couch was an Olympic sport. You just never know when you’ll lose the chance to do these things. (Especially if you’re an American, where your ability to obtain healthcare could vanish at any moment.)
Speaking of dentists, you know, I used to think people who told me their gums bled when they flossed were bragging about flossing, but after being stuck without dental care for a year, I sort of understand what the fuss is about. Oh, you all floss normally, do you? You don’t need this advice? Well, congratu-fucking-lations!.
Week 5: Mental Health
I cannot stress this enough – go to therapy now, because it’s super hard to make an appointment when lockdown hits. One thing no one seems to be talking about is the vague feelings of rage that have overtaken nearly all of us – oh, I’m sorry? You don’t feel angry!? Well maybe you’re just not paying very close attention. Let me guess – you also loved Emily in Paris? Must be nice to be so easily pleased!! Get out of my class!! I don’t need any of you!! I was just trying to be kind and pass on some of my knowledge, since I coped with this pandemic PERFECTLY!! AHHHHH!!
Week 6: How to Identify a Pandemic
It’s tempting to sound the pandemic alarm every time a friend coughs. (People really need to stop doing that in public. Am I the only one taking this seriously?!) But how do we know a pandemic is real? I’ll tell you how, it’s– hang on, did you all leave? WTF!! Because you think “scientists” are the only ones who should decide when it’s a pandemic?!?! I devoted my life to trying to teach you ingrates, and you’ve just decided you’d rather “enjoy your lives” than be ready!? WHATEVER!! Enjoy the next flu season with stale crackers!
Wild Swans by Jung Chang – the best book I’ve read in ages!