I thought I’d give my take on others’ and my own reaction to the coronavirus, since everyone else on the Internet seems to have shared his or her two cents.
For what it’s worth, I’d like to extend my sincere sympathy to the thousands who have lost family members and/or friends to coronavirus. As I’ve already mentioned countless times on this blog, my wife died in March — as it happened, about a week before the coronavirus started making big news in America. As my son blithely put it, “I thought we were going through a personal kind of grief, and then much of the country did the same thing.”
At the time, I hadn’t considered my wife’s death particularly merciful. But after COVID-19 reared its ugly head, it made me rethink my wife’s circumstances. Needless to say, it was terrible that she died. But at least we got to be sociable with her. Friends and family were always visiting and traipsing in and out of the hospital with ease. I spent several nights sleeping in her hospital room. And when she was dying, we all got to say our proper goodbyes, in person. Our misery would surely have been compounded by not being able to see her before she died, or having to communicate with her via walkie-talkie or printed signs at her window. For that, I remain grateful.
Strangely, COVID-19 did not change my lifestyle that much. After being unemployed for nearly a year, I got a job at a convenience store five months ago. Under Florida mandate, both employees and customers are required to wear face masks inside the store. Because of that (and I hope I’m not jinxing myself by saying this), I haven’t felt as though I’ve been in any danger since I began working there. And even if I did…well, my wife died, and I gotta earn a living.
Outside of work, I maintain the same level of anti-sociability that I always have. My son and I have gone out to a couple of one-night-only movie showings (maintaining proper social distance from other movie patrons, mind you), but other than that, I really only go out for groceries. Since the few places I’d actually want to go are still closed, I don’t feel much loss. On my off-work days, I putter around the house or sit in the backyard, drinking wine and smoking cigars and pretending to be well-off.
This business about the facial masks always amuses me. Many customers often forget to put on a mask before they enter the store, so they’ll suddenly realize their mistake and lift the top of their shirt or blouse to cover their nose. That’s a sight I thought I’d never see. The masks are also a frequent topic of conversation between me and the customers. Last night, one of them commented how we all look like a bunch of bank robbers, which made me wonder: Are they going to have an exclusive line of face masks for COVID-19-era bank robbers some day?
And it’s astounding how many people still regard a mask as an attack on their personal freedom. My half-sister in Kentucky is adamant about the subject and insists that she and her husband will never wear masks. But then, they live in Kentucky, where it’s probably not difficult to stay six feet away from your nearest neighbor.
Otherwise, I have the same opinion as thousands of other Americans: What’s the big deal with wearing a freakin’ mask in public? It’s a tad uncomfortable and inconvenient, to be sure, but not as bad has having to gasp for your last ounces of breath while isolated from the friends and relatives you will soon be leaving. And believe me, there are plenty of people (myself included) whose facial appearance is probably improved by the presence of a mask. Wear it, already!