Before dessert was served at the last White House State dinner, the expensive place-card holders at each table had to be whisked away. People keep stealing them. The antiques dealer who designed them has had to make 800 for the past two presidents. Towels and spoons keep disappearing, too. Not all of the thieves are quite as open about their need to take home a souvenir as Meryl Streep, whose office confirmed to the Washington Post that, yes, she does have a few presidential hand towels at home. The White House Historical Association’s chief historian told the Post this is old news. “This has been an issue since the White House opened and John Adams began entertaining people … The temptation is just irresistible.”
I already knew, in an abstract, intellectual way, that class and race can and will determine who really incurs the costs of climate change, but living through these fires for the past couple of years has really made it tangible.
I live in an old and drafty house, but I also have enough money to afford to make an unplanned purchase of an expensive air purifier to mitigate the effects of the wildfire smoke on us — especially on the baby. And when shipping got delayed, I not only knew where to look to figure out how to make a makeshift purifier, I could still afford to do so. And I had the time to figure out how to make it work when the hardware store didn’t have the right stuff in stock.
We all got sick anyway, but I have peace of mind knowing that 1) I can afford to go to the doctor and buy medicine if necessary, and 2) I can take day off if I need it or I need it to take care of the kid.
On a day where the air was especially bad, I could afford to have food delivered to my house to avoid going to the grocery store or using my gas stove and making the air in the house worse — the person delivering my food didn’t have the option of avoiding the smoke.
And if it gets really bad, we have the job flexibility and money to be able to drive elsewhere to escape, as we did last year. It’s not ideal and a hit to the budget, but it’s possible if necessary. Lots of people do not have that option.
Honestly? I’m thinking that next year, the smart thing to do might be to not plan a vacation and instead use that money as the “escaping the smoke from seasonal wildfires” fund. Just have that be the vacation instead.