Cheeseburgers and beer, al fresco

That I haven’t written one of my coronavirus missives in more than two weeks says two things: first, that I’ve been consumed with other things; and second, my family has largely adapted.

That doesn’t mean things are necessarily easy. Margaret and I needed to run a bunch of errands on Sunday. At the end of them we realized we were hungry and, more urgently, needed to pee.

We were a half hour from home. The nearby Starbucks wasn’t allowing the public to use their restrooms, as a protection against COVID-19. The surrounding gas stations looked sketchy and dirty.

I knew of a restaurant Downtown that had plenty of outdoor seating, and since we would be customers they’d let us use their restroom. It was ten minutes away, so that’s where we went. We had terrific cheeseburgers and glasses of beer and it felt so good and normal.

Lit Fresh Local Restaurant

But using the restroom provoked some anxiety. It was big enough for just one person, a tight fit. Was someone just in here? Were they sick? Was whatever they breathed out still hanging in the air? Would my mask protect me at all? I wasn’t going to be able to hold my breath through the entire visit. I didn’t even try. I just hoped for the best.

Our table was a good ten feet away from the nearest tables, which we liked. We had our masks, but it just wasn’t practical to swallow fast and put them on every time our server walked up to check on us. She was masked, so she was reasonably protecting us. But we weren’t protecting her, and she had no way of knowing whether we were carrying the virus. Heck, neither did we. Everyone in our house but me has to report to their workplace. Who knows whether the people they work with are carrying the virus? Were we putting our server at risk? Was everybody around us putting their servers at risk?

Our lives can’t stop entirely because of the virus. We need to bring in our paychecks so that we can afford to live. When we support businesses that were hit hard when everything shut down in March, we help others pay their bills, too.

But all of us have a responsibility to protect each other. At the moment, the best way anybody knows to do that is to wear a mask when you’re around people you don’t live with. Sometimes, that’s just impractical. Most of the time it’s not.

I encounter entirely too many people who aren’t wearing masks when I do the things I have to do outside my home. I haven’t counted, but I’d say it’s one third to one half of everyone I see. I’m losing my patience with it.

I get it, this is America, rugged individualism, Don’t Tread On Me, and all that. But this is also a nation that bands together in times of trouble. I’ve seen it. Why are we not doing it this time?


15 responses to “Cheeseburgers and beer, al fresco”

  1. Mark Avatar

    Last week our state went to required face masks and saw a big positive difference in the monthly grocery trip on Monday.
    Cases continue to go up though. When people go into the hospital with the virus they are usually there for weeks. Cancer surgery or having a baby you are up and out in a couple days.
    These governors need to put on their adult pants and say wear masks.
    3-6 months from now our hospitals will be full, nurses and doctors sick, exhausted, or have quit. We can put hospital tents in parking lot but you don’t make a new nurse or doctor in a couple weeks. What then?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wish Indiana would require it. I doubt we will.

  2. analogphotobug Avatar

    Oh some of us are sticking together. But our current politics/social environment is based on division and separation. So it makes it hard to pull together now….

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It truly does.

  3. PiscesPhotographer Avatar

    Over the last few years our society slowly developed a me first / us vs them mentality. Wether it was influenced by social media or just the media in general (lets not forget that reality tv used to be a religion for some) it’s difficult for people to suddenly turn off that switch and turn on their empathy, especially if they were never taught to have it from the beginning. We’ve seriously lost that togetherness and community spirit that I personally haven’t seen since September 12, 2001 and with literally EVERYTHING being viewed through a political rather than practical lens it may unfortunately be a long time before we remember that we are our brothers/sisters keeper.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I think the shrinking of the middle class, pushing some to the upper class but most to the lower class, was the fertile ground that social media and 24-hour cable news needed to create this division we experience.

  4. tcshideler Avatar

    I ate out at a restaurant with my mom and sister today for the first time since March- a Mexican restaurant on East Washington Street. Social distancing was observed, it was open at 50% of capacity, and both waiters who served us were masked. I too noticed how normal it felt. As for the rugged individualism and lack of banding-togetherness, I think we are seeing the impacts of an aggrieved population that has been given new, amplified voice by our president. Unfortunately.

    My go-to courthouse road trip stop for the bathroom is always Walmart. Plenty of space to pee or poo, clean restrooms, generally well-kept. Most county seats have one, and I can generally wait the. 20-40 minutes between them to hold out. Sometimes.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      As a nation, we need to tend to the aggrieved.

      Another blogger I follow who likes to take weekend road trips recommends Walmart restrooms as well.

  5. brandib1977 Avatar

    People around here believe it’s a hoax put on by liberals or that masks don’t work anyway. When I go out, depending on time of day, half to two thirds of people are wearing no mask and not even attempting to keep their distance. The restaurants are full and entire families can be seen browsing in stores as though it’s just a normal day.

    It is disturbing and infuriating.

    It seems that people mainly care about themselves and their immediate circle. The rest of the world be damned.

    I’m glad that you got a taste of normalcy, in the safest way possible. A cheeseburger probably never tasted good!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I remember in the early 90s when conservative talk radio started and they started blaming “the liberals” for everything. I didn’t see it then for the cancer it was. I regret it.

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        It really is a shame that so many people have bought into that idea hook, line and sinker. There are some things you can blame on one side or the other but most of our problems are rooted in our unwillingness to work with “the other side.” It’s all “us” or “them” and we’ve lost sight of the fact we’re all Americans. Sigh.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          United we stand, divided we fall.

          1. brandib1977 Avatar


  6. Joe shoots resurrected cameras Avatar

    As someone who works in (limited) contact with vacationers from all over the world and in close contact with coworkers that really don’t care. The ones who do are the ones who also pick up after themselves, will separate trash from recycling so the office staff isn’t going through the trash cans every time they empty them, things like that. And the sad fact is that so many of my coworkers are lazy assholes. It can be incredibly stressful. And the whole thing about older generations being the hardworking types while millennials and the new genZ are the whiny and entitled kids is largely bullshit. What I’m seeing is that it’s the old guys in their 60s and 70s who largely refuse to help out in any meaningful way (in all things) while the young are constantly cleaning up after them.

    I wish people would take this more seriously but I can’t control other people. It’s a constant struggle to remind myself who’s ultimately Sovereign here over this country, over this situation. Without trying to make it too political it’s also important to remember that we don’t and shouldn’t live in a country where the government is conveniently allowed to ignore its restrictions (the Constitution) when it decides it’s necessary. A lot of people are worried about that and it’s a legitimate concern for people to have. If this can’t be part of the discussion too then the whole picture isn’t being seen.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      FWIW I’m Gen X and when we were late teens early twenties everyone said much the same of us as is said of the Gen Z/Millennial crowd now. I think it’s said of every generation.

      Our government has gone bonkers. Our President tries to rule through executive order rather than working with Congress. It’s a mess. I hope we can recover.

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