A PhD ponders PDX…


Covid improv, & urgent shopping?

I think it was early summer of 2020, with Oregon’s first mask mandates, when I really went through the pandemic looking glass. On the Wednesday after July 4th I was pedaling home, mask down, from our local farmers market. And at the red light on Southeast 21st Avenue, looking across Powell Boulevard’s lanes of 6pm commuters, I did a double take on the lone person standing in front of the Plaid Pantry convenience store.

Facing the empty parking lot with her back to the store front, a 20-something female in sunglasses, white tank-top & miniskirt stood on the sidewalk between the front door and the garbage can. I noticed her hips shaking, subtly, yet rhythmically & methodically. Then with my double take, I saw a small cloth article drop down her legs and below her knees.

Before I really saw what it was, she had, in two quick steps, pulled it from around her ankles and nonchalantly up over her head. As she adjusted her improvised ‘mask’ and confidently walked into the store, I pedaled through the green light, in a mild daze. I was halfway home before I really got what I had just seen. Yes, it’s a deadly pandemic. And yet life — with creative, amusing, or even shocking improvisation — goes on.