Imagine: It’s a boiling August day in DC—like, so hot there’s a sweat puddle on your lower back and you’re wondering why you even blowdried your hair—and you just got on the bus. It’s 8:50 in the morning, and it’s crowded, and this one dude’s massive backpack keeps poking you right in the kidney. You close your eyes, remind yourself you only have five stops to go, and swallow the rage deep into your core, allowing a tiny piece of your soul to die.
This all might seem like a half-dream, half-memory from an early 2020 life, but it’s a reality we could all return to soon. Mayor Muriel Bowser recently announced that most spots will lift capacity restrictions starting May 21, with the District moving to being fully reopened by June 11. This summer, it’s likely that more folks will return to public transportation, return to the office, return to commuting, return to jostling for space on escalators—all the things that many of us have done either with far less frequency or not at all during the pandemic.
Living in a crowded city can cause irritability and anxiety regardless of circumstance. But what will it be like after we all emerge from living through a deadly pandemic? There has been plenty of discourse about our deteriorating social skills, our state of languishing, our pandemic senioritis. I think it’s also worth considering what we’ll call “Cov rage”—the possible belligerence and frustration that comes with releasing a bunch of raw-nerved, on-edge bodies back into the wild.