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On masks and social distancing
A Woman's View
Judi Tabler color mug

We all have become accustomed, but perhaps not always accepting, of the many rules that have been imposed on us in our society due to the novel coronavirus that is supposedly lurking in every corner, waiting to pounce on us. And often those rules change from day to day. 

We have followed many different instructions in this trial of the virus. Do you remember when we were told to wipe down surfaces, as well as ourselves when bringing food in from the  grocery store? We often took our shoes off at the back door, and made sure not to bring those plastic grocery bags into the house. We even sometimes changed our clothes at the back door. Not me. Someone for sure would appear and catch me standing in the garage in my underwear!

I didn’t do most of those things for long. I am lazy. 

We all have tried. I don’t blame any authorities or the president or his mother, or anyone for not knowing every blame minute what we should do. We are after all just guessing as we go! 

Now, regarding the mask issue, I am not very good at wearing the mask, I admit. I try, but I cannot breathe well when I am wearing one. 

Just lately, I flew to Denver. I was a very good girl. When checking my luggage, I stood on the “6-foot distance” marked spot on the floor while checking in at the airport, and I wore my mask. I would sneak the mask down below my nostrils when I could! It was a strict rule, and I didn’t want TSA to send me home. I kept my mask on during the entire trip.

Deplaning in Denver, I was shocked to see the immense crowds in the terminal. It had to be rush hour, because the air traffic is cut way back, and terminals are usually quite deserted. I guess I had not kept current with my friend the airline attendant. She would have filled me in. But I did know that the airline industry was not recovering this fast. But, for some reason, the place was packed with humanity. Never have I been in an airport that crowded.

Please believe me when I say this is not the norm. Airports are empty everywhere.

Every single individual in this silent mass of people wore a mask. I stepped into a space in the middle of the flow of moving masked faces, and I moved with the crowd. There were people everywhere; moving masses of masks and me.

The picture I imagine is the “Where’s Waldo” cartoons, and I was Waldo. Everyone was in a hurry, about their business. There were no conversations, no laughing or talking. I was struck by the movement and the silence. There was no life in that place. 

The P.A. system was not blabbing its usual over and over recording about leaving luggage unattended. No, instead it was instructing everyone on the rules of wearing a mask and keeping social distancing.

Social distancing?! What? I could barely keep from tripping the person behind me, or falling on the one in front of me. I pushed on, dragging my heavy laptop and my purse.  

I followed the herd to the trains, the people movers, to take me to the baggage area. The recording warned, “stay back, let the people leave the train, then get on, cattle!” And as we packed in the cars, hanging on to our stability poles, I listened to the instructions to wear my mask and keep social distance. 

Every one looked ahead; nobody made eye contact; but I know what they were thinking. “I can’t wait to get out of here.” 

What kind of double-minded game-playing are we doing these days? What I wanted to hear was, “Welcome to Denver. Hang in there. Soon you will be out of here, but in the meantime, let’s listen to John Denver singing ‘Colorado Rocky Mountain High.’”  

I adjusted my mask and left the terminal.  

Judi Tabler lives in Pawnee County and is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached or juditabler@awomansview.