Let me start by saying I LOVE the food at Kriner's Diner. It is the quintessential, all American, eat until your arteries explode, fare. And so it is with a heavy, cholesterol-laden heart that I must bid adieu to one of my guilty pleasures and state, publicly that I will never eat there again.
When they started giving a free roll of toilet paper with their take out orders I thought damn, what a clever promotion. Go Kriner's! If you remember a few months ago there was a run on toilet paper because we were all in lock-down and...umm... frankly, I'm not sure why, in a crisis, one of the first activities we focused on was that, but we did. The cultural implications are a little awkward so let's not look too deeply at this and just move on. When Kriner's started passing the paper it seemed like a light-hearted way of saying we are all in this together. It was sort of a come, or maybe go, together moment.
Well, that was then and this is now. With Anchorage reinstituting the moratorium on dine-in service, Kriner's has decided to serve up a big steaming plate of Hell No. Enough is enough already. They have a bottom line to meet and if a few people have to die along the way, well I guess that's just the cost of doing business.
I can appreciate the horrible situation restaurant owners find themselves in. At one time I was a small — emphasis on the small — business person. I worked my way through college by leasing a cab at night in Phoenix. After graduating with a brand new, shiny BFA in painting, I moved on to selling seat covers out of a van. Turns out no one was rushing to hire someone who knew the difference between impressionists and post-impressionists. Along with seat covers I also peddled cartoons to local papers in Arizona. After 12 years I decided to trade in feast-or-famine independence for a steady paycheck. Fast forward several decades, I now teach Alaska Job Corps students how to drive.
You didn't really think I made a living drawing cartoons, did you?
Anyway, I have nothing but admiration for anyone who puts themselves on the line and chooses to go their own way. That doesn't mean a business has the right to put its customers in jeopardy in pursuit of profit. It is the purpose of a restaurant to feed people and in order to do that, they have to put food in their mouths. If you have figured out a way of doing this with your mask on, I'm not sure I want to know how. There are only so many orifices available to you. So in order to eat, you have to take off your mask and while Kriner's BLT may be a little slice of heaven, it shouldn't be a one-way ticket there. It literally should not be to die for. That's why Mayor Berkowitz has chosen to close indoor dining. Let's put a lot of people in a confined space and have them take off their masks. What could possibly go wrong?
You wear a mask to protect other people from you, not the other way around. It's to impede pathogens that may be coming from you and landing on those around you. It's what you do for other people. Choosing not to wear a mask is the equivalent of shooting into a crowd and Kriner's is using double-ought tater tots.
It doesn't matter if you think the pandemic is a hoax or a plot or an experiment gone wrong. Covid-19 doesn't care what you think. It doesn't matter if you think masks are pointless. Covid gets straight to the point.
So no matter what you believe, here are the facts: In 2019 the U.S. suffered through its worst flu season in over 40 years. More than 80,000 people died. While that's only half of the dead from Covid-19, it's still way too many dead Americans. The difference here is that those 80,000 deaths were from 35,500.000 infections. That's .02% or two-one-hundreths of a percent. On the other hand, our 160,000+ deaths from Covid-19 resulted from just under 5,000,000 known infections. That's 3%, or more than 100 times deadlier than the worst flu in recent history. If we hadn't sheltered in place; ff we didn't wear masks or make even this half-hearted attempt to stem the infection and it spread like the 2019 flu, we would be killing millions of additional people. If this infected the 35,500,000 million people that caught the flu, it would mean more than ten-and-a-half-million dead Americans.
So I may miss having my favorite BLT from Kriner's. My taste buds will mourn the snap to attention shot they get from the first bite. I truly grieve the loss of one of my absolute favorite places to eat but that's better than grieving the unnecessary death of more Alaskans.
Kriner's may survive this pandemic, but they will do it without me and possibly without a couple of otherwise living neighbors.