The Altamont Wave has become the check-in

In the long-ago year of 2012, I wrote a column called The Altamont Wave. In it, I noted that, here in Altamont, we tend to wave to one another because we’re a real community and it’s good to acknowledge one another.

I further added that, if more people out in the world waved and recognized one another as people, it would make for a better world. Well, here we are in the year 2020 and things have changed quite a bit.

We’re in the midst of a global pandemic. The country is being led by a mentally ill criminal. Our allies are laughing at our government’s failing efforts and people are literally dying every day of the week.

So, what does this have to do with waving? More than you think.

When lockdowns and quarantines began in other parts of the world, people quickly realized how much they missed and needed their neighbors, friends, and families. In Italy, folks began to play instruments, sing, and talk every day from their balconies.

In New York City, folks gather every day at a certain hour to applaud and cheer for first responders and front-line folks still working to keep us safe and keep the country functioning. And here in Altamont, we still wave but now, it’s progressed to a check-in.

On certain streets, folks come out at 5 p.m. every day, beat drums, sound gongs, and connect with neighbors. They talk, laugh, share news, and just let each other know that life, despite the insanity of our situation, does go on, all from six feet away, of course.

One of the things I’ve noticed most is that we’re all getting to know one another better. We’re asking one another how it’s going and actually listening to the answer.

People are taking being neighbors to a new level and actually exchanging names, email, and phone numbers, just in case. People are helping each other through this and that’s what, ultimately, being part of a community is really about.

We’ve gone from waving and acknowledging one another to actually having conversations and checking to see how we’re all doing. I’ve seen folks giving things out, sharing recipes, making and giving away masks, and offering tips on where to find things.

We’re very lucky as we live in a quiet little corner of the state with a low population density and a relatively low incidence of cases. We’re not immune, by any means, but our chances are far better than those who live in cities.

We’re also, largely, a community of reasonably intelligent, educated people who take the news in and try and act in a responsible manner. One of the things our governor keeps trying to get across is that human life is the sacred thing, not profit and business.

We live in a blue state and, except for red patches, New York is a pretty forward-thinking place. We wear our masks and keep our distance to help one another, not due to a government conspiracy. We listen to Dr. Fauci and the CDC, not Trump and McConnell who are far more interested in killing people to stay in power.

Here in little old Altamont, there has always been a sense of community and a fair bit of involvement. The current situation has, for the most part, brought that out in a wonderful way.

I really like taking the grandbabies for a walk nowadays. People wave, smile at the little drool monsters, and ask how they’re doing. You know how seeing a cute puppy makes a lot of people kind of go gooey? Well, seeing the twins has the same effect on many folks and our other little ones, who are a bit older, are equally pleasant company.

This is what being part of a village is all about. You come here, have kids, raise them, and then they have kids and we all help raise them. It does, indeed, take a village.

Now, during a global pandemic, the life we create in our village means far more day-to-day, than what some nutjob in Washington says. I can rely on my neighbors to be there if something goes wrong. And they can count on me to help as best I can. You can’t say that about politicians, bureaucrats, and cronies who care only about holding onto power and lying to do it.

Altamont will survive as will, hopefully, most of us. I think it will always be a good place to live because people who live here want to be part of a community. And that spirit is what we are now seeing, perhaps more than we have in a long time. It’s what will keep us sane and healthy until things get better.

Editor’s note: Michael Seinberg has lived in Altamont for about 28 years, his wife, for 60 years. They’re not moving.