I met Alex in the Kroger parking lot this morning when I was making my weekly grocery-store run. It was a beautiful sunny day. Joggers, walkers and cyclists were out everywhere, and Alex was serenading passers by with his accordion. A home-made sign said he was out of work and needed money for rent. His wife and little girl were sitting nearby in the shade. I tossed him a dollar and he briefly played a sad song.
Alex has a slight accent, and I asked him where he is from. Moldavia, he said, a former republic of the old Soviet Union bordering on Romania. He plays the piano for a living and he worked at restaurants. Now the restaurants are closed, he’s unemployed, he applied unsuccessfully for assistance from social services, and he’s out of money.
If I had had a notepad on me, I would have gone all journalist on him, but I didn’t, so I didn’t. But he did allow me to take his photo (which I botched by letting the sun shade his face). Let Alex from Moldavia serve as a reminder of the hundreds of thousands of economic victims of the COVID-19 epidemic and the business shutdown put into place to fight it. We don’t see many of them. They usually don’t advertise their presence. But they’re out there. We cannot forget them.
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