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Virus Without Borders: Chapter 86

(Someone) grant me the serenity...in the days, weeks & months ahead.


      Supermarket Encounters


Gun ownership is more common among men than women, and white men are particularly likely to be gun owners. Among those who live in rural areas, 46% say they are gun owners, compared with 28% of those who live in the suburbs and 19% in urban areas. There are also significant differences across parties, with Republican and Republican-leaning independents more than twice as likely as Democrats and those who lean Democratic to say they own a gun (44% vs. 20%).  PEW RESEARCH CENTER



My husband, Jim, does not want me to get shot, wounded, or killed. He implores me not to confront a person, usually a white male, who is not wearing a mask. I usually say something to such a belligerent white male when I am shopping solo, even though I know it is a  grave risk. I cannot stop myself; I am incensed. "No mask for you, sir?" I said the other day to someone as I was waiting to be served at a small market on Rte. 32 that is always open, no matter the weather or holiday, a real convenient convenience store. This guy had his mask in his hand. "I have a mask," he said, waving it. "It's in the wrong place," I said.


That was it. He came closer, waved it at me, threw a five-dollar bill on the counter and stomped away. "Give the lady the change," he said.


My tip for speaking truth to his so-called power.


I can hardly believe the machismo I have encountered these past difficult months, more so since the Covid numbers have surged again. Women can be macho, too, of course, defiant, or just plain ignorant. The woman running the laundromat was mask-less during my last visit. I have chatted to her, know her name, and that made a difference, but she was annoyed with me. "Okay, I'll go get my mask," she said. "I'll comply."


"Thank you," I said. "It's for your own good, too."


Two days later I was down with Covid. Now I wonder if I got it from her, or gave it to her.  


I do not confess about a confrontation when I get home though I am often shaken. I do not want my husband to worry about me.  I sit down at the computer, answer emails, write, and try to calm down. I call up the research about gun ownership in rural areas such as ours and read it over and over again hoping it will sink in.


Yesterday's encounter was particularly dangerous, not only for myself, but for my husband. I know he would intercede to protect me, if necessary, thereby endangering himself and maybe some bystanders. We were at Tops, a football field sized supermarket in the New Paltz mall. The mask mandate sign is posted on the entrance doors and most people are masked. Then there's the one who isn't, or the one who lets the thin surgical mask slip under his nose.


We'd just recovered  from a ten-day isolation, and were enjoying our supermarket play date. Jim was riveted on all the meat while I was in the organic aisle getting some frozen blueberries.  When I returned to join him, a young man was standing at his shoulder, his mask under his nose. Even though we may now have more immunity, I got crazy. Without hesitation, I shouted to the young man to put up his mask, and though I had no expectation, I had no common sense, either. I had walked right into danger as I often do. I think it has something to do with being the child of Holocaust survivors. In another life, I could have been a relief worker, I know that.


The guy got angry almost immediately. I thought he was going to hit me, so I backed away. I had pushed his button and he started to rant. Instead of going to get the manager, who I knew was a young woman, a student, and putting her in danger, I took him on. It wasn't a decision; it was a reflex; I was protecting my husband and everyone else in harm's way. That's the way I think the reflex works; I gear up into rescue mode.


I backed away as he took out his phone. He wanted to show me a video, he said. Only then, did I pretend to ignore him. He was almost dancing now, shoving the phone towards me,  "You see," he said. "Masks don't help."


How could anyone sane and informed even answer that. I didn't. "Thank you," I mumbled, "I appreciate that," I said. He finally walked away. I was relieved; a video is not a gun.


But my husband wasn't happy with me, and I wasn't happy with myself. I promised I'd write a blog about safety protocols as we continue to encounter defiant and belligerent citizens. The reality is that we'll be wearing masks for a long time, maybe even forever.


Dear Reader, I'd like to hear how you handle such encounters and if you have any suggestions.  


#maskup #staysafe #walkawayfromguns #resistopencarry #reformgunlaws #walkawayfromrage  


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Virus Without Borders: Chapter 85

"Still Life With Masks," an image from the early days of the pandemic before we switched to N95s. And we had thought 2022 would be mask-free. Wishful thinking. photo ©copyright Carol Bergman 2022

 State of Emergency; A Personal Lament


Join us in our fight to end the pandemic. Call on governments and pharmaceutical companies to work together to get the tools to fight COVID-19 into as many people's hands as possible….No one is safe from COVID-19 until everyone is safe.


-The  World Health Organization


To contain such a pathogen, nations must develop a test and use it to identify infected people, isolate them, and trace those they've had contact with. That is what South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong did to tremendous effect. It is what the United States did not.


-Ed Yong, The Atlantic



A woman with lupus can't get a test kit and is forced to announce her despair on my local Buy Nothing FB page. Another woman announces that she has an extra test kit or two from work and would like to give them away, but only to parents with young children returning to school, thus setting up an unpleasant competition, may the best family win.


Why is one person flush with test kits, or hoarding test kits, and another begging for test kits? What is going on? Where is state, federal or municipal government oversight?  Wasn't the scramble for vaccines when they first became available lesson enough? Why are affluent countries considering a fourth shot when so much of the world remains unvaccinated? Does this even make medical sense?  


Out at the Ulster County Fairgrounds the other day, no tests left anywhere in town, cars were lined up for a one-test-kit per vehicle giveaway. Because my husband and I were symptomatic, I crawled into my car and joined the queue. It was long, no guarantee that the kits wouldn't run out quickly, even though the giveaways will be repeated as supplies become available, we are told. What if two people from the same household arrived in two cars?  Are we operating on the honor system? I guess so. 


 I lucked out and got a box with two tests in it together with a "Happy New Year"  greeting from a local police officer. Thank you, I said. Why was I thanking him?


How can we stop the primal instinct to look after ourselves at the expense of others? How can we encourage our government—local, state and federal—to  become pro-actively responsible in this pandemic?  Needless to say, I don't have answers to these questions, and I'm tired. Though my husband tested positive, and I tested negative, I have an efflorescing head cold and need a nap.    


#getvaccinated #getboostered #hoardingforbidden #honorthyneighbor #altruism #thegreatergood #governmentoversight #governmenttestsites

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