Broker Words—May 2020

I guiltily confess that my freezer has two cartons of, albeit modestly-priced, ice cream—one vanilla and one chocolate. Mainly because my wife is kind enough to periodically bake me brownies during this social distancing/safer at home situation. I’m powerless against a brownie in a bowl…a few seconds in the microwave…and then buried in vanilla. So far the chocolate is held in reserve as emergency rations.

Once a week we half-fearfully support one of our favorite restaurants by ordering a carryout meal. I can grill a mean steak or burger (Kingsford or don’t even bother) but my true barbeque skills are substandard at best, and living in Kansas City, where you can’t swing a dead possum without hitting a great BBQ joint, I’ve been thusly willpower-challenged almost since birth. (If you’re ever in KC, you’ve got to treat yourself to Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbeque. BTW—they ship nationwide if you’re in one of those areas where meat seems scarce.

My wife and I are blessed that we have a full fridge and we’re enjoying various culinary adventures at home. Although, it seems paradoxical that creating healthy, home-cooked meals in lieu of fast food feasting is somehow making my jeans tighter. Must be the store brand detergent we recently had to substitute…

The mandated closure of Dream Nails and attendant sabbatical of proprietors Ashley and Holly has my wife in a tizzy, but somehow the near-future necessity of administering a haircut to me with the dog clippers fills her with, in my opinion, an alarming amount of sadistic glee.

God had the foresight to not burden a child with my parentage, but I still feel sorry for proms and graduation ceremonies cancelled, playoffs unplayed and championships dreamed of since toddling denied without contest. Although my favorite teams all sucked this year, I still mourn the loss of the NCAA basketball tournament. (Thank goodness they didn’t cancel the Super Bowl!)

But much more important now, the news is rife with stories of kids without school and thus many without meals they were counting on. Unimaginably long lines at understaffed food pantries, hurting for donations they usually count on from grocery stores that now have unnaturally empty shelves. Twenty-two million-plus people suddenly unemployed and relief checks slowed. Our industry is fortunate in that it isn’t a great departure for many if not all to work from home. I urge all to donate to local food pantries and school lunch substitute programs.

More than just our ability to work though, how blessed are you that your very occupation has placed you in a position where products you’ve sold can be drawn upon in a time of extreme and unforeseen financial need? But are you sure each of your clients with those products are aware that their past purchases can help here and now? Sounds like a great time to reach out with that reassurance and perhaps see if you can help them or those they care about with any other insurance needs.

As a nation we’re extremely challenged right now. Each state of our nation has its own restrictions on necessary versus non-essential store front businesses. Grocery stores, gas stations, and pharmacies seem standard. Firearms and ammunition as well. Only one state that I know of has banned liquor store sales. Clothing somehow seems to be less essential, unless in a WalMart or Target, and even then some states mandate blocking off all areas except the grocery section. Michigan’s governor is rumored to be one of those, and yet weed dispensaries are deemed essential. My mom lives in a “Pot’s Cool” state and I’m sure their ganja stores are flourishing. “They” say that the liquor business (and by projection likely the “Wacky Tobacky” as well) is recession-proof. And well taxed, but I digress.

Without revealing any more of my personal bias and before I further alienate all the hacky sack sandal-candle crowd, my point is simply this: While states fight their own battles about essential versus non-essential businesses, and when to open up various parts of their economies, I find it very disquieting that Congress isn’t permanently in session during this pandemic. Beyond the fact that I personally see it as a “thumb your nose” to the electorate, don’t both sides of the aisle see the irony implicit in shuttering all but “essential” businesses while allowing political obstruction by absenteeism? I encourage you this November to demonstrate to any of your elected officials who participate in this obstructionism in time of crisis that they are, in fact, non-essential.[SPH]