If it ain’t broke…
A Beaconite used to be profoundly impressed with the government’s switchboard operators. Most any time he called 494-3701, they would answer after a ring or two and immediately transfer his call to any government agency. So when government announced the launch of a “Customer Service Care Centre” that would take over this function, the Beaconite worried. Since the system wasn’t broken, he thought, why try to fix it? Apparently, he was right to be concerned. At least for his purposes, the new system doesn’t work nearly as well as the old one. For starters, he now has to wait for an automated message to play and then select a number to get in touch with an operator. And when he called the other day, he never could get through: When he pressed the number for the operator, the recording started over again — a problem that continued when he called back multiple times. The Beaconite understands the potential benefit of a broader customer service line, but for people who just want to make a phone call, government should revert back to the old way of doing things.
Among the many pleasures of life threatened by the coronavirus, attending concerts is the one a Beaconite has missed the most. Covering the Gen Y Factor singing contest on Saturday night was a welcome treat that he is not sure he would have so thoroughly appreciated if not for the spectre of a global pandemic. Game for live music he almost always is, he’s not sure if he would have been as charmed by the groups of supportive friends cheering after every song, or as impressed by how smoothly the light fixtures swivelled in place to colour the stage, or as touched by the parents of the night’s winner, swaying side-to-side with their hands over each other’s waists, as their daughter sang her encore. (Reporting a story tends to also prod someone to notice the sublime details.) It was such an enjoyable show, and such a prescient reminder that there is much good to come despite the undeniable struggle ahead, that the Beaconite was only slightly angry when, after the show ended and the parking lot began to clear out, his car decided not to start.
Asking for input
A Beaconite is pleased that government officials recently have been informing residents in a reasonably timely manner about Covid-19 matters, and she hopes they keep it up. She is happy that leaders thought twice about further banning expatriates, but she doesn’t understand why they allowed such heated discussion about the topic before thoroughly addressing it. Months ago, the people of the Virgin Islands were promised that government would take a step-by-step approach to the pandemic. She believes the government has stuck (and intends to stick) to a timeline that it has set out for quite some time now. Why wouldn’t officials ask for public input on controversial and inevitable decisions?
In the USVI
Beaconites have watched with sadness the unfortunate Covid-19 situation in the neighbouring United States Virgin Islands. That territory’s choice to allow in tourists seems to have backfired, resulting in a spike in new cases amounting to 254 as of Tuesday and prompting Governor Albert Bryan to place residents back under a stay-at-home order. This territory, by contrast, remains free of any known community spread of the virus, according to officials. Beaconites hope the VI is paying close attention and learning lessons from its neighbour. To that end, they suggest that the territory continue ramping up preparations just in case a similar outbreak arises here. Bringing in the Cuban doctors is an admirable step, and safeguarding care homes, the prison and other institutions housing the vulnerable is another one. Otherwise, there but for the grace of God go we.
Hindsight is 2020
Tomorrow marks one year since a Beaconite left her previous job at a newspaper in the United States. A lot can change in a year. The reporter didn’t know where she was headed when she put the mountains of the Pacific Northwest in her rear-view mirror. But she has learned a lot in that time about her new home and about herself. She’s learned about the ins and outs of covering legislative issues in the territory; how to (almost) surf; the difficulty of saying goodbye to friends compelled to leave the Virgin Islands; and the beauty of a colourful sunset seen from the ocean. This year hasn’t been easy and continues to present daunting challenges. But if the reporter could say anything to that person facing an uncertain path one year ago, it would be that unimaginable happiness is ahead and worth digging deep to pursue.