Now that Magic Tuesday—June 15, when California re-opened its economy to full capacity because it felt it had tamed the COVID-19 pandemic—has come and gone I’ve noticed a new inconveniences in my day-to-day life: I have to go back to judging people based on their character rather than their appearance.
During the early days and ensuing months of the pandemic it was relatively simple to decide who I wanted to avoid.
The dude waving his arms, shouting at squirrels and Karate kicking invisible attackers falling from the sky but was wearing a face covering over his nose and mouth? No problem, my man. I will walk six feet by you, give you a head nod and maybe even throw a “Howyadoin’?” your way.
The diminutive woman pushing a stroller, walking her senior,three-legged rescue as she sips her half-caf soy while butterflies tenderly arrange garland around her flaxen hair but there is no sign of a face covering on her head, arm, or pocket? I could not hold my breath and cross the street fast enough to get away from someone like her.
Over the last 12 months-plus I have lumped people into one of two groups—those who could and could not.
Those who could, at the least, pretended to care about the health and safety of friends, neighbors and strangers by wearing or carrying a simple cloth fabric over their faces while in close proximity to others, mitigating the spread of a virus that, to this day, evolves and infects the vulnerable among us.
Those who could not were the ones who could not be bothered to demonstrate even the slightest bit of concern for people around them.
While doctors, nurses, clinicians, epidemiologist and other health care providers asked us to wear a mask to help stop the spread of a disease, there were those among us who could not be bothered to even go through the simplest motions of civility. They could not be bothered to engage in a simple act of kindness.
Mask and other COVID-19 mandates have been lifted presumably because it is safer for most everyone now. For me it is a bittersweet blessing.
I’m glad we are at this stage of recovery but I’ll miss knowing at a glance who could not be bothered with concern for public health and safety.