The silver lining

Covid-19 has hit a lot of people very hard and some of us out here were included. Many of the previously ‘fledged’ young people have been let go from their jobs in the various public-intensive service industries and have come home to their parents when, for the most part, the family had adjusted to living separately. Of course, love endures and the young person is welcome but, you know….people grow up and get their own place for a number of reasons and, when forced home, it can get a bit tense. Tense is one thing, but no income with an extra mouth to feed is quite another.

Some young people have addressed that rather nicely, mind you. A is a chef. Not yet a headliner, she is well on her way to a ‘star’ rating in the foreseeable future. She’s good. But, like others, she came home when the resort she was at had to close. The silver lining? She’s cooking at home and presenting the community with a small menu every week from which to choose. Her chili was fantastic! This is a good thing – having a nano-restaurant service OTG from which to add a bit of variety.

C’mon…? OTG with great restaurant food delivered!?

We also started up a food-delivery service BEFORE Covid-19 and the coordinator was trying to ‘make-do’ with a minor surcharge and the service was growing but…well, growing slowly. Along came a virus and people stayed home and, of course, the food delivery service started to get more popular.

Sally and K and J do the work distributing the BULK order that comes by water-taxi from Save-On on Fridays. Various customers send in personal orders to J. Then the orders are consolidated by her to make it easier on the Save-On staff shoppers. Save-On needs a few days to compile it, then the aggregate is delivered by a land-taxi to the water taxi and it’s then delivered to us a few hours later. Then the three women separate all of it back into individual orders, some of which are picked up and some delivered by our home support person – on her ATV or by way of her skiff.

All this happens OFF THE DAMN GRID!!!!! How wonderful is that? It is fabulous for us. We have not gone into town since we came back from the hospital stay. Sal is going over to the car today to start it ’cause it hasn’t been started in almost two months!

What did it take to make it all happen?

Well, first off the coordinator has to want the work. It is NOT a lot of money but it’s okay. Like most of the community members, the effort is partly volunteer – basic, practical community spirit. Same for the two helpers. The Home Support worker gets paid, but she also gives more time than is remunerated. Bottom line: it’s a voluntary community effort…..until……COVID!

After Covid put the world on self-isolation, the government and various funding bodies started to give money to delivery services for seniors. Well, we are mostly all seniors. And our isolation is even MORE than most. Our needs are greater. And so we applied and received a $2000 grant to help keep the old folks in grub.

Sorted groceries ready for delivery

That will end sometime soon, I’m sure. But by then, we should have a working system with enough customers to support it with just the modest surcharge. Generally speaking the ‘added cost’ to a weekly shop is between 10 and 15% which may seem a bit steep but not if you factor in the savings from having to do the shopping yourself. I may pay $60.00 – $75.00 a month for the service but it costs me that out-of-pocket if I go to town plus a lost day of my time. I am happy to pay that versus enduring a ‘town day’.

Other recently started services that support us are also great. There is a woman on the neighbouring island who does a regular Costco run in her truck. Fifteen percent delivery cost to our departure dock on her island. She’ll pick-up from other places along the way, too.

Who woulda thunk it? The stereotype of an OTG’er is some kind of hardy mountain man and his wife hacking and chopping and living like pioneers. Fighting off bears.  They aren’t ever clean. They’re all weathered and leathery. They have it tough! OUR OTG experience included some of that – enough to write a pussy-version of it, anyway. But NOW, it is even better! It is almost (gasp) easy!!   We are spoiled brats!

11 thoughts on “The silver lining

  1. Your systems are so wonderful and make island OTG life even easier, especially for people who can’t or don’t want to go to town. Nothing like this has ever taken hold on our lake, mostly because the cabins are seasonal vs residences. What I would love would be a propane service. Those heavy tanks going back and forth to town via boat, dolly, truck, dolly and boat again are getting harder all the time, especially when the lake is low and the ramps are steep at the marina. – Margy

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    • True. And, in the summer, the tides are always low in the late afternoon – when we usually get back from a town day. We can have a 17 foot difference and, on a 40 foot ramp, that makes it a steep and difficult angle for carrying heavy loads. I get it. We all get it. But THIS NEW WAY is so much better. We still have a ramp to climb at our end but I have rigged a quasi-funicular that goes to the water. That means we climb the ramp after tying up the boat and walk to our place NOT carrying anything because it was all put on the funicular before we docked. Then we walk over to our place and I press a button and the cart brings it up. True…when you ‘cobble up’ inventions, they are not always 100% reliable but our systems work 29 times out of 30 and the 30th time just requires a bit of ‘fixing it time’. Still good.

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      • I remember reading about your funicular and how you put it together. At least on our home end it’s just a matter of lifting things out and placing them on the cabin’s deck. – Margy

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  2. It sounds wonderful. People helping out charging only a minimum to cover their costs.
    On the other hand, it also sounds a bit like the gig economy, where people get no sick or holiday leave, or compensation if they are injured on the job. I know. I’m being so bureaucratic.

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    • Not bureaucratic….but constrained by systematic thinking, perhaps? No one is being exploited by a corporation or government. There is no profit motive. There is only the helping of each other. They would do it for free. It’s just neighbourliness. Community. Friends. J has to travel 10 miles by boat. K just a few hundred yards. Sally, two miles by boat. Sal gets $20.00 for her effort. That barely covers her boat expense. No gig. Just helping others is why she does it. Same for her shift at the post office. Community.

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  3. It’s a great thing to see the community spirit…this is how it should be in general. But this has not been working for a very long time in towns or suburbs…might (will)never come back. This whole situation (COVID) is difficult on everyone, but for our kids, it’s going to be VERY difficult for a very long time, because all the “helicopter money” will have to be repayed, and guess who our government will turn to to finance all this….again US, the working class. The impact is going to be huge and for a very long time. A lot of unemployment also coming all over the world.

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    • Unemployment for sure but then again, a great deal MORE self employment. And self employment is generally more local. Generally more services and the like. That is good for ‘small towns’ and OTG’ers but not so good for big cities. It really depends on the internet. Our net service is slow and interrupted. That is NOT good for customers far away but it is good enough for local people. If I need a local shop or something on the net and I cannot get through, I just wait until the weather is better. Maybe phone. But, if I am ordering something on Amazon and don’t KNOW the seller, I might just give up, look around for someone else or just (at my age) forget about it. Regardless of the overall recovery, more and more people will be working from home. Helicopter money is ultimately inflationary. Maybe not during a recession or depression but it eventually dilutes whatever economy emerges. Heli-money is a bit like a drug….temporary lift and then a downer….all part of a broken system getting more broken. Is there an alternative? Not really. Some people hoard precious metals and, to an extent, that will help local transactions but one cannot ship gold in the mail. Barter and trade will grow. That’s good. But money is her to stay and it is NOT going to be too inflationary until the world gears up again……and that seems like a long ways off.

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  4. The big financial guru’s even are afraid that first there will be an inflation if the industry does not gear up again, then people will buy and spend less and prices will drop. If economy finally (hopefully) gears up, then we will have to watch out for hyperinflation. The helicopter money could be diluted over time by 1% economy growth and 4% inflation….but the trick is to keep it under control. I am happy that at least we will think about getting some production back from China to Europe, US and Canada. That will hopefully bring back some jobs and make us less dependent of the Chinese….kinda silly that a big economic group like European countries or US had ZERO factories to produce masks…makes you think…

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  5. “….makes me think?….” That thinking was done decades ago. We could see the ‘shift to China’ and we ‘thought’ that was good because they made things cheaper and so profits were up. Ooohh, goody! Profits up for shareholders. Money in the pockets of the rich. Up the stockmarket! Power to the corporation!
    What could possibly be wrong with that?
    We ‘thought about it’ decades ago and we thought wrong!
    Well, back then, I thought about it and saw downsides – the supply chain was made vulnerable. That was obvious. The cheaper goods were sub-standard and that was obvious. The sense of relative values in NA was distorted and that was obvious, environmental devastation in China was obvious. Unemployment in NA, inequality, exploitation, greed, imbalance….all obvious twenty years ago.
    But, I also liked that consumer prices were down. And, long term, THAT was wrong, too.
    Trump wasn’t the first to see that ‘things were out of whack!’……..we all saw it.
    But, well, waddaya gonna do? Especially if you can now buy a generator for the price of a fancy meal or clothing for the price of bottle of wine. I mean, the cheap goods got ‘good enough’ and all of a sudden our diminished incomes could buy much the same as before.
    We thought that, “The system is working!”
    But that was because we only looked at the consumer and their spending. They were OK.
    But the local manufacturers weren’t. Nor was organized labour. The only way for NA to compete was to abandon all the labour gains, environmental gains and safety standards. So, we did that. We took on the ‘gig’ economy. Dropped the environment. And we are continuing to do that. In other words, the consumer lapped it up and the corporations dodged all the costs by exploiting the poor and putting all the garbage and pollution overseas. We did this to ourselves.
    That is why I am a bit optimistic about the future THANKS to Covid. More and more of the economy will be local and human-relationship based and not ‘cheap crap-price’ based. Of course, the human animal will still ‘shop’ for the cheapest item but, with more people staying home and working from home, local expenditures will increase and corporate products will lessen or at least stay flat. Reitmans, Sears, HBC, Hertz Rent-a-car declared bankruptcy (or are in the process) and they are just the beginning. Malls are dead. Watch out for the Commercial Real Estate market to collapse if they don’t innovate hugely (their best plan B is to convert office towers to half-residential towers so the work-home revolution is supported in one building). The auto industry is in trouble but innovators are stepping up. Watch out for mass transit to stall. People will commute less. Watch out for the airline industry to consolidate into two or three major lines. And on and on. Covid will change us. And, in some ways, for the better. I hope.

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