The Night Before the World Changed

It’s trivia night.

I don’t much like trivia. I’m bad at it. But trivia night is fun.

When I arrive, I feel a slight guilt as I shake my friends’ hands. Hands are dirty. I’ve always known that. But now, there are rumors that dirty hands can be deadly. Maybe we’ll have to stop shaking hands. For the moment, everyone’s still doing it.

I like handshakes. I am not very manly. And I’m awkward with people who are. But I can shake their hands.

Some other kids once taught me to shake hands. My grip was too weak. Maybe it’s my small hands. They had me practice squeezing harder until it became a habit.

Most of tonight is forgettable. The restaurant is loud. We argue about our answers. I make sure to wash my hands before I eat my sandwich.

At one point, my friend shows me his phone. There’s a graph of hospitalizations and deaths. Data from the other side of the globe. Most people will live.

I’ve already seen the numbers. I’ve been thinking about them all week.

People like to say that a life is priceless. My policy analysis professor took great joy in debunking this myth. This professor was so kind to me. He wrote letters of recommendation. I still don’t trust him.

I realized my professor was half-right though. I thought about the theory. Industry can never be 100% safe. There is always pollution. And pollution will kill at least a few unlucky folks. How much money do we spend on reducing pollution? How many lives are we going to save?

It was all very good theory.

I order another beer. We rush to submit our answers in time. One of my teammates is quite good. We’re in second place.

I try to forget about my phone. It’s rude to look at it when I’m with other people. But I can still check Twitter when I get up to use the bathroom.

Tonight, Twitter is talking about the NBA and Tom Hanks.

We pay our bill and say goodnight. I walk to the bus stop. It’s getting late, and the city is quiet.

Everything is perfectly ordinary. Even wonderful.