In an alternate universe, March 2020.
“I beg your pardon?”
“No. I’m opening my restaurant tomorrow morning, same as always, and I’m coming to work and serving whoever shows up to buy a cup of coffee, two eggs, bacon and hash browns or whatever.”
“But the bug —“
“If we all catch the bug that’s going around, we’ll be miserable for a while, and then we’ll get over it, just like every other year.”
“But the governor’s order —“
“The governor is an idiot and a coward and he doesn’t know how to run a restaurant, and I’m not going out of business on his say so.”
“But — you know, I think I agree with you. I’m going to open my hair salon after all. Wanna catch a movie tomorrow night?”
“Do you think the theater will be open?”
“I think if enough of us stay open, the theater will, too. What do you say?”
“Works for me. See you then.”
The governor turned red and held his breath until he turned blue, and he stomped his feet and shouted, and he called out the National Guard to close the shops and restaurants. But the Guardsmen saw the shops and restaurants filled with people laughing and having a good time and not getting sick, and they saw that there were thousands more people than Guardsmen, and so they laughed and had a beer and went home.
And, having rejected the new normal, the people kept on living the old normal and lived happily ever after.
And the fact that they lived embarrassed the governor into silence, because no one died more or less than in the universe next door, where everyone listened to their governor and stayed home and went out of business.