COVID-19

Trusting my vaccination

I hardly know whether to bother wearing a mask anymore. The places I go, no less than half of people aren’t wearing theirs. Last time I went grocery shopping, my estimate is that four out of five bared their faces.

I know that the point of wearing the mask is for me not to spread COVID if I happen to be carrying it. But if most people aren’t wearing masks, it makes the whole thing seem ineffective. Masking works best when we all cooperate and do it.

Beers with some co-workers

I had a surprisingly severe cold in October. It drove me to take a couple days off work to rest, but to be fair I have also been suffering from very real exhaustion thanks to extreme work stress. My symptoms were more consistent with a cold than with COVID. But on the chance it was COVID, I didn’t go into places unless it was critically necessary, and when I did, I masked up and didn’t linger.

Otherwise, I’m going out and doing things that I want to do. In places where masks are required, I mask. In places where they’re optional, I mask only if most other people are masking.

I still work from home most days. It’s no longer about COVID, but about not commuting. I suppose that if more people were in the office every day I might go in more often to enjoy the office buzz. On a normal day in the office I encounter three or four people. I still spend most of my day on Zoom; I just do it from a different place. I don’t see the point in spending so much time in the car just for that.

The major upside of this pandemic is that my car is going to last a good long time – I hardly use it!

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COVID-19

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?

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