umbers are weird. It takes me forever to eat one salad. It’s only one. I bought one of those bags of salad the other day (because let’s face it, I am NOT ready for bathing suit season) and I got about halfway through it and hit some silly patch of dirt that hadn’t been cleaned. Ruined salads for me for a while. Sure, let’s go with that.
But it was only one package of salad. One of three that were in my refrigerator. One of probably 50 that were on the shelf in the grocery store. My grocery store is one of probably 25 Hy-Vee’s in the Metro area. Hy-Vee has probably 300 stores across the country. They are one of maybe 75 large grocers in the country – each at around 300 stores. All with 50 bags of salad on their shelves.
The care and detail that went into washing that bag of salad wasn’t up to par, certainly, but the majority of bags of salad, I’m sure, are clean and free of dirt.
This past week, a piece of aluminum smaller than the car in your garage flew for eight months and landed on Mars. Mars is 131 million miles away – or, slightly farther than Kauffman Stadium during rush hour traffic. It takes 11 minutes for electronic data to get back from Mars.
It’s the scale of numbers that is crazy. One bag of lettuce. A couple of 1’s and 0’s traveling 131 million miles in 11 minutes. And then the most somber number I heard this week. The United States has eclipsed 500,000 deaths from COVID-19.
It was about this time last year that the whole country went to hell. One year ago this week, in fact, was when you started seeing activities be canceled. And then on March 13, the NBA shut down and everything cascaded from there. One year is 525,600 minutes. I’ve never seen the musical RENT but who hasn’t heard that song?
So, basically, we’ve had one death per minute in the past year from COVID-19 or COVID-related illnesses. As staggering as that is, a “normal” year in the United States is that 3.2 million people will die. However, 2020, as a way to cement its place in history as the worst year, set a record for most deaths at 3.6 million. That’s 3.2 million plus 400,000 COVID deaths.
You can see where the numbers just get mind blowing. Almost four million Americans – but when you zoom back in, you see each and every one. Each of those folks have a story. They might be elderly and leave behind their kids and grandkids. They might be children themselves. They might just be a normal schmuck that got this horrible virus.
I couldn’t help but stare at the bag of salad in the grocery store imagining the millions of bags that are in circulation at any given time – and how that translates to what’s going on right now in the world. True, my brain is a little bit broken, and I’ll probably never look at a bag of salad again.
Numbers are truly crazy. A single bag of salad. 500,000 deaths. And a Mini Cooper is zooming around Mars 131 million miles away.
(Numbers are truly crazy. Occasionally Chris Kamler gets crazy on Twitter, where you can find him at @TheFakeNed. Also catch him on an upcoming episode of Landmark Live on Facebook at Platte County Landmark)