Assessing risk…one bite of chocolate at time.

Most of us are not credentialed insurance actuaries or bio statisticians. We cannot do technical risk analysis; we cannot see through our clouded emotions to ascertain the most likely outcomes of our actions.

Even the experts doing the big-picture mathematical modeling of the coronavirus pandemic are the first to caution the public that their projections are founded on “best guess” assumptions, and insufficient and often flawed data.

(These disclaimers are seldom touted by the media in their quest for capturing eyeballs and clicks.)

Unfortunately, circumstances now demand that all of us must make daily calculated risks without sufficient expertise or complete information. And, for those of us over 60 with compromised immune systems, these mundane decisions could be matters of life or death.

Even seemingly healthy people in the prime of life can catch COVID-19 and have a terrible time with the fever and associated respiratory problems.

Also, it seems that one can get sick from the virus more than once. A single bout of the disease might not ensure immunity to future infection.

My wife and I just completed a rather mundane, and in better times, trivial “risk analysis” about me going out to purchase dark chocolate.

Our 34-year-old daughter has been grocery shopping for us for the last several weeks. It is something for which we are most grateful, but not happy about. But we accept the situation as the new normal.

Unfortunately, the Publix food store near her was totally out of chocolate. However, an independently owned Schakolad Chocolate Factory shop near us was open and largely bereft of customers.

Both my wife and I are diabetics and can only eat a small amount of sugar-free confections, or items with very high cocoa content and low carb. But, slowly eating dark chocolate brings considerable pleasure into our lives. It is about the only sweet confection in which we can occasionally indulge.

After a few days of Hamlet-like rumination of to “buy or not to buy” and analyzing the various slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, it was decided:

Amy will place a pick-up order by phone. I would wear a wife-made DIY mask and white cotton photography gloves, and take delivery outside the confines of the shop.

As it turned out, the streets of St. Petersburg were largely deserted and the Schakolad store empty of customers. The whole transaction of phoning the clerk from outside the glass door and retrieving the bag of goodies was literally under 20 seconds—maybe less.

The total purchase was about $71.00 for about 2.5 pounds of delicious sugar-free chocolate. This modest purchase will help the entrepreneurial owners of the chocolate shop pay their hardworking and dedicated staff.

By chance, while I was typing this blog entry, my wife was perusing Facebook.

She noticed an entry on a local page that the Schakolad Chocolate Factory had just donated well over 100 goody-filled Easter baskets to the children of healthcare workers at St. Anthony’s Hospital.

Now everyone can have some sweet moments in a dark time.

Our small risk/reward decision turned out to be a good one. The pandemic is projected to peak here in the Tampa Bay over the next four weeks. It will inevitably kill the most vulnerable.

Yet there is reason to believe that kindness, goodwill, and self-sacrifice will also reach its zenith during the period of ascending misery.

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