Notes From Isolation: Day 36, South Bronx NYC

Yesterday turned into a somewhat exciting and exhausting day. As it turns out, the warehouse space below was rented by a funeral home, not a casket company. They rented the space under the guise of storing caskets. As with most things in our fucked up apocalyptic world, this was not the full truth.

After I posted about my sad gloom and doom, many things happened. Neighbors from across the street became concerned after seeing someone on complete PPE get out of one of the vehicles that the workers show up in. The workers downstairs were increasingly hostile and MAD SHADY about the goings-ons. One of my neighbors who works in the medical field came down, saw body bags and these workers handling them, and confirmed that there were indeed dead people downstairs.

Several of us tried to take pictures of what was happening, but the workers backed these Uhaul’s and Penske trucks back into the door and blocked the rest with cardboard. A few of my neighbors confirmed seeing body bags. BODY BAGS! DEAD BODIES! Dead Bodies in what is essentially is my basement.

This building, and that space especially, is not set up for any sort of dead body anything to be going on. A lot of us were very concerned. Rightfully so.

Before I continue – here’s what I love about my neighbors. We can fucking Rally. Whether it’s a party or a BBQ just trying to solve the case of “are those dead bodies in that warehouse?” We always pull together.

A little after dark, Gonzalo went out to smoke. There were cops downstairs scoping things out. By then the workers had gone, but I went down to join in the conversation. Apparently, they received a few calls and an anonymous tip. As the conversation was wrapping up, a hearse and a minivan of workers pulled up. Then the questions started.

At a certain point it was CONFIRMED that there were indeed bodies coming in and out of that space. The warehouse was rented to a funeral home, seemingly unbeknownst to our landlord, to be used as a point of transfer for bodies. The bodies are brought here, meet their casket, and then are sent out to where they are meant to go. They are not stored here. The cops were unsure if it was legal or not, due to the current and ongoing State of Emergency. One officer suggested we call the news and have this reported on. I’m not super interested in all that.

Needless to say, the landlord was livid and yelling and screaming at these folks. I really don’t know if he knew or if he’s just a good actor, but I am glad they are not going to be here longer (or so we are told). We received a new key for the lock downstairs, so I assume they are getting their things and moving shop – hopefully to a warehouse where people do NOT live and occupy space with pets and babies.

In ANOTHER twist of events, a friend of ours who lives on 116th Street in Manhattan sent us a video from HER window of bodies being removed from outside of a funeral home… from the back of a Uhaul… BY THE SAME PEOPLE! So it seems that these bodies were being taken from her location, moved to our location, and then sent off to somewhere else.

I have been getting some slack from a few people who don’t think this is a big deal. I get it- these bodies need to go somewhere. All I am saying is NOT FUCKING HERE! Don’t do this where people live and work from home and eat their meals and raise their babies. Don’t do this where entire buildings have to walk by these Uhaul trucks to get out to the street. Don’t do this without the proper set up to keep workers safe and residents protected. And Don’t, DON’T fucking lie about it. It IS a big deal. This is MY life. I don’t want and contaminated ANYTHING near me or my boyfriend or my neighbors.

To those who disagree, I beg you to please open up YOUR basement and let people bring diseased and infected corpses in and out all day long. This is the South Bronx. There are plenty of empty warehouses spaces that are not in RESIDENTIAL areas that can be used for this sort of thing. I don’t think I am wrong here.

I do also want to say this: I have a reverence for human life. It was heartbreaking to see that hearse pull up yesterday and watch a coffin be put into it. I didn’t know if it was full or empty. I cried. I pondered. I imagined who might be in there; Someone’s grandma? A Veteran? Was the box labeled correctly? I am still human in all of this. So while I don’t want these bodies, these vessels of what used to be a person, here, I do want them to be treated with dignity and respect. So I do apologize if I have come off and unsympathetic or cold regarding the deceased. That is not the case at all.

I know this entire experience is going to change us, but my goal is to keep my humanship and empathy intact. For now, we must all do the best we can.

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