“Corona-Daze” A Pandemic’s Journal.10
Clouds are rolling in, reminding me of the beer virus. Writing this on the deck, which was sunny and slightly breezy just moments ago, this afternoon is becoming something other than what it once was. Or is it? An unexpected clap of thunder announces an invisible storm. The wind picks up and with it, tension attempts its arrival. The birds have gone silent. All save our parakeets, who sing from the shelter of our front room.
Darkish clouds float directly overhead now. I wonder if they’ll move on without unleashing their plentiful rain. The air and sunshine are too glorious to force me to leave just yet, so here I’ll remain. Some chances are just worth taking.
Today was another Costco trip. No one stood at the entrance counting or carding the shoppers. Other changes include the replacement of tables to dine at, with a kiosk to order meals from — “to go”. No eye contact was made, and I tried. When approaching the checkout, upon reaching the red “stand here” circle, my cart was pulled away without acknowledging, or frankly even noticing, that there was a human at the other end of it. With a mixture of displeasure and what looked like annoyance, the cashier momentarily glanced my way when I greeted him. He pointed to the receipt so that I would remove it myself, reaching in from my side of the plexiglass to do so.
Leaving the store, the same man who’s been there for years, reached a gloved hand out past his plexiglass barrier to mark the receipt. Without looking at either the tally of items or me. A voice from a box said “goodbye”. I kid you not. Perhaps his mask prevented him from speaking?
Walking out of the store, as has become habit, I immediately removed my mask. It’s a gorgeous day here. There were about a dozen shoppers in the parking lot and virtually all but one of them still wore a mask while packing their car. Why?
Fear. This article sports the powerful meme describing what’s going on. Although I am uncomfortable with the derogatory “karen” term, it describes what’s happened. Fear has replaced thinking freely and somehow been misconstrued as strength of character.
Masks are supposed to be worn (I just noticed there is another “warn” … hmmm….) to prevent droplet or aerosol transmission between people in enclosed spaces. None of those parameters describe a person walking through a parking lot or packing their car.
A few days ago, on a drive, there were lots of people outside and on bicycles. About half of them wore masks. This will not protect them from the beer virus. It will, however, cause them potential harm as they breathe in their own emissions of Co2 while exercising vigorously.
There was another trip this week. Our library has just opened for reservations of materials and curbside pickup. There was a specific time window we were assigned. Masks were required and the items were already checked out. We only needed to take them home.
There were signs and arrows everywhere, with instructions and points at which door to enter. It appeared as if they were expecting large crowds to be swarming their doors, but that is just a guess. There was no one else there when I arrived. The doors were wide open and I could clearly see the pick-up table and the librarian as I approached. Both were a few feet away. I entered the open door, because to walk across the front of the building to “stand in line” would have been ridiculous. As was mentioned, there was no one else there.
The librarian was shocked. Her eyes looked terrified and confused. She kept looking at the other door, the one all the arrows were brightly pointing to. This was the opposite direction from the door I had entered. It took her a moment to compose herself and ask for my name. The books were bagged and ready, and handed out beyond her plexiglass shield. We managed to get through it quickly enough. I left without touching a thing or receiving as much as a greeting. It might be helpful to mention here that we recognized each other, she’s been there for years. I bet that door is now closed.
Fear has now moved in and is attempting to take permanent residence at the front of our brain. It is an uninvited guest and just like anyone who has worn out their welcome — needs to move on.
This virus demands respect and it makes sense to give it that. Having a compromised immune system puts me on the list of “high risk” humans. You can bet I am shored up with vitamins, supplements and exercise to strengthen this body I inhabit. I take every necessary precaution. I do not take the unnecessary ones though, and here is the reason to bring this up.
This beer virus is a scary thing, for sure. As I write this, those dark clouds still hang overhead. I’m directly in their path. Should they decide to drop some rain my way, I’ll gladly move indoors to shelter. Until then, this delightful summer afternoon surrounds and thrills me. A few birds quietly begin their song, announcing that for now, the threat of this storm is gone.
It does not make sense to replace thought, logic, humanity and friendliness with fear. Clearly the weaker emotion, it inspires neither intelligence nor reason. What we need to keep conscious of, now that the shock of this virus has worn off a bit, is the hierarchy of emotions we are using to direct our movements.
Respect and even caution make sense when under direct threat. It sometime takes a bit of fear to spark these things. But this much fear at its current volume is no longer helpful. It is non-productive. What is helpful is clarity of thought and intelligent action. We need to get our humanity back, and it needs to resume its place at center stage.
Having just spent an hour or so at a place filled with humans, without feeling or receiving one smile or kind word or gesture, tells me that the damage to our spirit is real. It’s time to factor our humanity into our “phases” and precautions. The alteration in behavior will come from us, not the rule makers. We are humans and not just potential germ carriers. Let’s keep that part always foremost in our response to whatever lies ahead.
I believe in you. I believe in us. I believe in love.