2474: First Time Since Early 2020
|First Time Since Early 2020|
Title text: Gotten the Ferris wheel operator's attention
This comic is a chart that orders things based on the level of alarm that would occur if it were revealed that someone had not done a given thing since early 2020. Many of the items, but not all, are linked to new constraints due to the pandemic.
The title text serves as another chart point, though it isn't given where it is on the chart.
- Been to a birthday party
Going to a birthday party was a normal task before the pandemic, and it's normal to say you haven't gone to one since early 2020.
- Eaten at a restaurant
Eating at a restaurant was also common before governments instated lockdowns, but during the lockdowns many restaurants had to limit their service to delivery and take-out.
- Seen my family
Seeing your family was fairly common before the governments instated lockdowns. However, there were emergency visits during the lockdown period.
- Been on a plane
Governments around the world cancelled commercial flights during the pandemic. However, businessmen like Bill Gates used private jets during the pandemic.
- Gone to a movie
Many cinema halls around the world closed due to the pandemic. Several movies were instead released directly to TV via OTT platforms.
- Gone to a store
Although some stores were closed during the lockdown period, others were open for essential commodities. Therefore, going to a store for the first time since early 2020 is little strange.
- Installed software updates
Regularly installing software updates is recommended, mainly for security reasons. However, many people don't follow these recommendations (mostly by fear of software inconsistency or instability), although a delay of more than one year is quite long. Mentioning software updates is weird, because it is not directly related to the COVID pandemic. On the contrary, since many people spent much more time at home and worked at home, it was all the more important to keep software up to date, especially due to zero-day exploits.
- Eaten a vegetable
Since vegetables are essential to a healthy diet, not eating a single vegetable in a whole year is not recommended. Anxiety due to the pandemic and disruption of social relations may have caused people to consume more junk food than usual.
- Opened the fridge
This is quite weird, since most people use their refrigerators to store fresh food. Maybe some people became anorexic because of anxiety due to the pandemic or stopped consuming fresh food and relied more on junk food. Moreover, most food products will alter or rot if stored in a fridge for more than one year, and become dangerous to eat.
- Paid taxes
Although some people, depending on where they live and their income, may not pay taxes in an immediately obvious way, there are some taxes, such as VAT in many countries and sales tax in the United States or Canada, which almost everyone would pay in the natural course of everyday life, though may not be 'obvious' in the paying, or even be extracted at source (withheld from payroll) in the simpler cases. (Randall lives in Massachusetts, which does not have a VAT, but does have a 6.25% sales tax.) It is therefore strange that someone could have gone a year without paying any taxes, implying they made almost no monetary transactions in the period, nor are made (directly) responsible for any residential or property-owning taxations that might otherwise be payable to one or other layer of government.
If the statement refers specifically to filing income taxes (which is often the case when people refer to "taxes", because the paperwork and large sums of money transferred at once makes the income tax highly noticeable and memorable), it might describe someone who filed a tax return for 2019 early in 2020 and then waited until later in 2021 to file a return for 2020.
- Washed my hands
One of the main pieces of advice during the pandemic was to wash one's hands, frequently. Even in normal circumstances, washing hands is a good idea to remain hygienic, and not do so for a year would be disgusting to most people, and a good way of catching diseases.
Like paying taxes, it is very common to wash one's hands inadvertently as part of another activity, so someone who actually has not washed their hands since early 2020 likely also never bathed or showered.
- Seen another person
Despite the restrictions, most people will have seen another person during the pandemic.
- Seen a ghost
The fact that the speaker apparently has seen a ghost, both now and presumably before early 2020 (else they would simply say it was the 'first time' they saw a ghost) is unusual.
- Served as a decoy
Similar to the previous point, this is not a normal activity, so the specificity is unusual.
- Sighted land
Most people live on land, so sighting land should not be unusual, even during a pandemic. The fact that someone has gone over a year without sighting land suggests they have been lost at sea for the duration. There are several reported cases of ships' crews refused permission to disembark, due to local restrictions and/or because their scheduled relief were unable to embark, but the unluckily held-on persons forced to remain beyond their originally planned obligations should never have been left permanently beyond any tantalizingly unreachable view of the shore.
Taken more literally, it could simply mean that the person remained indoors and did not look outside, or that the person was temporarily blind.
- Checked the news
If someone has not checked the news since early 2020, they will likely be in for a shock upon checking. Noting that this could possibly (if increasingly absurdly) still apply to someone like Ponytail (as portrayed in strip #2396).
- Checked on the customers in the escape room
The implication is that the customers in question have been trapped in the escape room since early 2020. Most escape rooms are not equipped to support a person for that length of time, so unless the customers actually escaped, they would likely not have survived.
- Contracted a novel bat virus
As a 'novel bat virus' is what kicked off the whole pandemic, contracting another one may send the whole world into a new pandemic.
- Gotten the Ferris wheel operator's attention (title text)
It seems that the speaker has been stuck in a Ferris wheel for a year. It is unclear how they may have survived.
Alternately, it would be perfectly normal that the speaker has not been at an amusement park with a working Ferris wheel since early 2020 - but it would be unusual to focus on interacting with the operator versus enjoying the attraction.
Several science fiction stories [Citation: This discussion] include wheel-like prisons where people stay for years, but generally they are underground and horizontal rather than in the air and vertical like Ferris wheels are.
- "This is actually the first time I've _____ since early 2020."
- [Below is a long vertical arrow with the words "normal" and "alarming" at the top and the bottom of the arrow respectively. To the right side of the arrow is a list of text, with each item starting with a triangle.]
- ◀ been to a birthday party
- ◀ eaten at a restaurant
- ◀ seen my family
- ◀ been on a plane
- ◀ gone to a movie
- ◀ gone to a store
- ◀ installed software updates
- ◀ eaten a vegetable
- ◀ opened the fridge
- ◀ paid taxes
- ◀ washed my hands
- ◀ seen another person
- ◀ seen a ghost
- ◀ served as a decoy
- ◀ sighted land
- ◀ checked the news
- ◀ checked on the customers in the escape room
- ◀ contracted a novel bat virus
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