Among the social faux paus I’ve committed in the past decade —ranging from walking into my lobby barefoot to letting the doors of an empty elevator close on my coworkers to admiring apartments through their open windows on the Upper West Side—the most nerve-racking has undoubtedly been looking at the receipts left behind in ATMs. Every time I’ve done it has been remarkable. As a college student, I’d expect to see what I would have in my own bank account: a few hundred dollars at best, a negative balance at worst. I was shocked when I saw that another student had a little over $10,000 in his checking account. I didn’t know another 19-year-old who had that much money. As an adult, I am familiar with the gut punch of realizing, all at once, that the challenges I faced were not necessarily universal.
Each of these moments means something new against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. I can’t imagine dashing into my lobby without shoes. The shutting door of a half-empty elevator is now good etiquette. We are invited into one another’s homes via Zoom. And stimulus payments have peeled open all of our wallets—and here we are, out in the open, barely decent.
Stuck between financial and moral obligations and self preservation, a teacher in Florida wrote his obituary. Many neighborhood businesses have been permanently shuttered, while large corporations have been bailed…
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