“I think right now there’s perfect conditions for workers to organize their workplaces because . . . they’re sort of realizing our work is actually essential. What everyone has always told us is that our work isn’t — that’s false. . . . It’s time for workers to rest, it’s also time for workers to rise.” — Matthew, bake shop barista and Tartine Union organizer, Working People podcast, April 11

Becca: Some of the things I miss: hunting for treasures at Goodwill, hugging, and most of all . . . takeout hot dogs (Sorry, Nate, I know you’re a bleeding heart vegan — which I admire). Consider the hot dog. Consider the pay and livelihood of the person who grills it so perfectly. Consider the fossil fuels to truck it, the truckers who carry the boxes, the people working in the slaughterhouses and packing plants, consider the lives of the pigs, consider the plastic packaging, consider the ketchup and the people without papers picking the tomatoes — always afraid. We say we want to go back to “normal.” But so many things were horrifically wrong with our normal. Let’s do some visioning. Also, how are you this week?

Nate: Oh, but visioning is easy, isn’t it? Ideas are a dime a dozen. Opportunities are rarer and more precious, and you have to meet them with preparation and execution. I guess that may sound like MBA-speak, but I think it’s true, or at least it’s been true in my own life. I’m still overworked and exhausted, but feeling a bit hopeful that the worst of the public health crisis may be peaking and passing in our region — though it could be a grave mistake to get complacent and ease up on social and physical distancing too much and too fast. So, yes, let’s ask, “What kind of normal?” But also let’s ask, “What specific steps can we take to get there?” You start.

Becca: I don’t agree that ideas are a dime a dozen. One has to begin with creative ideas, and often we don’t even dare dream because our imagination is constricted by the cultures and systems we are born into. Some post-pandemic visions: all the pent-up hug-missing will be accompanied by men being less sleazy. Post-pandemic they will be more conscious of space, will ask before touching. We will have a new international solidarity, an ethic of care and mutual aid. Our allegiance will be to compassion, not to state, country, flag or corporation. We will tax the fucking rich. No longer will three people hoard more money than 50 percent of the U.S. population, nor will the world’s richest 26 hoard more than 50 percent of the entire world’s population. Recognizing that our current mass incarceration system is intended to be more of an economic engine than something that actually engenders safety, we will entirely transform it. Community-care becomes standard, perhaps surpassing self-care as a social value. Everyone is housed. Nonprofit holistic health care for all. No one flies more than once a year (with some exceptions), electronics are upgradeable, and everyone drives less. No more war. You certainly wouldn’t have about 50 percent of the federal budget going to the past, present and future war machine. The dissolution of hierarchy — decentralized mutual aid groups often outperform the top-down structures of government, corporations and nonprofits. Lives that don’t suck. The only way we are going to get there is with intersectional, international solidarity, creative, strategic uprisings and activism. What’s your wish list?

Nate: I guess my point about ideas earlier was that my wishlist is largely unchanged from what it was pre-pandemic: a world in which unpaid or low-paid labor that supports society is valued appropriately; a world in which everyone has the means to be physically and mentally healthy; a world whose ecosystems we are not destroying; etc. Those are “ideas” but they’re old, common and obvious. I think what distinguishes the present moment is that the destruction wrought by this virus might give us new opportunities to implement these ideas. So let’s talk about specific pathways: One of the most obvious ones is, as you suggest, to tax the rich — and also to reimagine our relationship to large for-profit corporations like Amazon, which is now functioning as a sort of de facto public utility and should be treated as such. During the pandemic Amazon is acting both as a monopoly and as a provider of vital supplies — and also making billions of dollars. The public should either own all or part of it, or else break it up — or at the very least tax it at a much higher rate.

Becca: Speaking of Amazon, a few days ago as I waited to get into Walmart, the sky was a brilliant deep blue, perfectly unshattered by the normal jet trails. If only I had also been holding two fair-trade, worker-run, carbon-neutral, feminist-AF takeout hot dogs.