Food Isn’t Necessary

The shit hit the fan. So, we think. Yesterday morning, the Communist Party of Vietnam announced that Sài Gòn will ban everyone from leaving their home beginning on August 23rd, in two days, and that the military will be responsible for providing food and essential items city-wide. However, it mentioned the exact details are still a work in progress and will be released later. We haven’t heard anything yet.

While I applaud Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính for giving three days of advance notice before the city is totally locked down, which is far better than his predecessor, former Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, ever allowed, it caused chaos. Given that few, if any people, trust that the Communist Party of Vietnam, will actually fulfill its promise to deliver food and essential items, food stores were jam packed today. Enough people came to the same conclusion having read between the lines — they would be closed indefinitely come Monday. It seemed as if anyone who could go out, went out. Social distancing wasn’t a thing. Just to get in, there was a line 50+ people long. Then there were lines 20+ people long at the price tag stations in the fruit and vegetable section and also at checkout. Food shopping took two hours. It normally takes us about 30 minutes. And that was only half of today’s experience. Since we were running low on meat and whatever meat was available at that food store had already been taken, another two hours was spent at another food store for four of its last eight packages of chicken. We were lucky because chicken is hard to come by nowadays. Had I been one or two more people back in the faux entry queue, it probably would have been gone.

Well, if either your mother or I get COVID-19 within the next two weeks, it won’t come as a surprise. The Communist Party of Vietnam caused a super-spreader event today. My risk of contracting COVID-19 is higher than your mother since I went on the chicken run alone, which was largely spent waiting in a small space with 20 other people where the ability to social distance was impossible. Shopper limits were largely being ignored there because it was understaffed and nobody wants to starve. But, hopefully, our precautions and the precautions taken by others kept us safe from any COVID-19 microbes. We used our N95s, too.

You’d think letting everyone in on the plan as quickly as possible would be a high-priority given the magnitude of the announcement. You’d think it’d be important to explicitly tell everyone to prepare to be confined at your home for however many days. You’d think a government would have its act together after almost 20 months. Obviously, at the very least, the Communist Party of Vietnam hadn’t really been doing any proactive thinking since Directive 16 was implemented on July 9th. Only nine million people are eager to know the details.

The Communist Party of Vietnam treats us as if we live at its convenience, slave-like. I’m not exaggerating. Even though there’s been nowhere to go other than a food store, we’re still people. But despite its poor decisions, I had never thought that life here would reach this point.

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