The Global story around Covid-19 can feel heavy on the heart and mind; it feels like the world is changing daily. I’m working from home, and I am sure many of you are too.
There is good news: New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham has declared a State of Emergency, and our state seems to be weathering the storm better than other areas we see on the news. No one of us can predict what will happen in the coming months, but we can listen to the scientists, to our leaders, stay calm, and do the best we all can given our individual circumstances.
One of the harder, but necessary steps, is to limit gatherings of people, and that means bars, restaurants and other places we all like to go. As a result, Governor Lujan-Grisham has ordered the closing of businesses:
“The order requires all restaurants in New Mexico to be limited to take out and food delivery”
We hear this news, we understand, and we nod. This is smart leadership, and will help to keep us safe. The harder question in this new, serious time: “How can I, one person, being smart and staying home, help?”
First- staying home does help. We all help by not risking spreading this virus. Second, I understand. I had the same exact thoughts. As I watched the news the other night, I thought, “There has to be something I can do to help people.”
As the news played, one theme kept being repeated: the front line workers- the everyday New Mexican Heroes working in grocery stores, collecting our trash, serving us food, delivering us mail, and keeping us safe- they can’t take a day off work, and need our support.
Amidst the chaos, bright lights appear in small, subtle but impactful ways. I wanted to find out -safely- how some of our New Mexican Heroes are coping with our new reality, so I headed out to see for myself.
As I said, I am working from home; I get out to take walks, I don’t touch things I shouldn’t because the virus can last for several days on a hard object, depending on the object in question. (There’s great information here: How Long Corona Virus Lasts On Surfaces).
I fired up my old Jeep and drove east down Central Ave in Albuquerque. I already love this street, I love the history of Old Route 66, and I love seeing the variety of businesses as I drive. Albuquerque is an exciting place to live.
I parked outside of Poki Poki (3422 Central Ave SE), and I was hungry. There were two EMT/Firefighters picking up food, and we got to talking while keeping a safe distance between ourselves. They told me they were doing well, staying upbeat, and we all were happy about being able to get take out.
Standing outside, I looked up and down Central, and there was almost no traffic. Walking into Poki Poki, it was quiet. Very quiet. The dining room was empty, with the exception being someone I assumed was a manager sitting at a table staring intently at a laptop. One man with a large bag stood at the register, and two women behind the counter greeted me as I came in.
I ordered the Boss Bowl, and my new friend behind the counter, Erin, told me it was going to be a little spicy. (As far as I am concerned, food can never be too spicy).
As they started preparing my Boss Bowl, the man with the bag joined in our conversation. His job is delivering for the popular food delivery app GrubHub, and his bag was to keep food warm on deliveries. We all chatted, laughed good naturedly at our world’s current situation, and then I asked them, “How is it for you all right now?”
Erin admitted having the dining room closed made an impact, but there was a pretty steady cadence of orders for pickup and delivery coming, and she and her coworker said they were grateful for it.
The GrubHub driver smiled in agreement. “I have to drive and deliver everyday, this is how I make a living. I am happy to tell you, people are ordering take out like crazy, so in an odd way, this pandemic is keeping me employed”
Erin nodded. “We love people coming in for pickup, and we love delivering. It’s a scary time, but we’re all staying positive here, and our customers have been awesome. Everyone understands what’s happening, and so every order is great, and we’re glad you’re here!”
Three Burquenõs on the front lines, going to work everyday despite the risks, so they can earn a living, and we can all eat. Instead of dwelling in fear, they were all proud they were able to keep working, and, once again, people I had never met in Albuquerque were making me feel like we were all in it together, and that everything was going to be okay.
I opened this article with grim, but hopeful news. As I continue to explore New Mexico (safely) in the new reality we find ourselves in, I’m going to introduce you to more local Heroes that are the fabric of our city and State, that keep us all moving, and make life more liveable.
None of us can fix the world ourselves- each of us can make a difference by small acts of kindness and patronage.
If you get hungry tonight, fight back against Covid-19! Order some Poki Poki. Make sure to let Erin and the team how much you appreciate them keeping us fed.
I’d love to hear from you
Do you know of a great New Mexico story we should be sharing? Reach out to [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you