Paul Elie in The New Yorker –
There’s a Staples store on Fourth Avenue, in Gowanus, a part of Brooklyn that lately feels less and less like New York City and more like the rest of the United States. I went there the other day to send a package via UPS. Then I ducked into a familiar aisle and got three boxes of yellow pencils to bring home for my three sons, a back-to-school ritual.
I braced for a long line: some years, buying school supplies at Staples, I’ve waited half an hour to reach the register. Not in 2020. In this year of long lines (in June, the socially distanced line outside of the Whole Foods on Third Avenue stretched across the Gowanus Canal), there was no line at all. Two minutes later, I was paid up and cycling home, some lyrics from Talking Heads’s “Life During Wartime” running through my head: “Burned all my notebooks / What good are notebooks? / They won’t help me survive.”