blog news, healthcare, poor judgment, true crime, videos, YouTube

Did the ‘rona finally get me? It’s not clear at this point…

This is probably going to be a short post, because I’ve already written a travel post and I have a splitting headache. My nose is running; I’m coughing and sneezing; and I threw up breakfast (due to coughing). I don’t have a fever, body aches, or exhaustion at this point. I can also still smell and taste things. I just feel like I have a bad cold. We did a COVID test last night. It was negative. So far, Bill has no symptoms of whatever’s got me.

I don’t know if this is COVID-19. We’ll probably test again later to see if I have a positive result. If it is COVID-19, I am grateful to be vaccinated. This shit sucks… but it’s not as bad as the last flu I had, in which I felt like I was dropped off a building and run over repeatedly by a truck. I’m also grateful that we made it home before I started feeling sick. If I have to feel like warmed over shit, I prefer to be in my own bed.

I actually slept pretty well last night, and woke up feeling slightly more energetic, except for the headache. The most annoying thing about this is that my nose is running constantly. I feel like I have to hold a tissue to my nose all the time. That, and the coughing fits that make me puke. That’s not unusual for me, though. I normally cough a lot because I have cough variant asthma caused by allergies. If I had itchy eyes, I would almost assume this was allergies.

Even if I do now have COVID, though, I figure it was only a matter of time. Unfortunately, I think COVID is one of those bugs that is going to get everyone at some point. Just like everyone occasionally gets colds and, to a lesser extent, the flu, I think COVID is going to be one of those sicknesses that spreads to the masses.

Anyway… even though I could probably rant about something today, I just don’t feel like it… so I’m just going to leave this post at that, and go enjoy my clean sheets. I’m grateful I had enough spunk to at least freshen those up a bit. And I’m super glad we bought an air conditioner for the bedroom a few years ago. It would really suck if I had to be sick and swelter in the heat… which isn’t so bad today, but the house is holding heat from the past few days.

Maybe I’ll find something crazy or funny enough to blog about… Actually, for now, I would encourage those who enjoy cop bodycam videos to check out this one. It’s classic– and it’s not safe for work, because there’s a lot of yelling and cussing. But I sure laughed watching it, and had to see it twice. I’ll probably watch it again in an attempt to get some endorphins going. These cops are to be commended for not losing their shit on this guy. Seriously… they have to deal with some very disrespectful people!

This guy is really too much.

And just in case I do have ‘rona, I’m going to stay inside and hope Bill can walk the dogs later.

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celebrities, disasters, music, obits, YouTube

Hana Horka bets and loses on deliberately catching COVID-19…

Yesterday, I wrote that I’m really tired of reading and hearing about COVID-19, and all of the preaching related to the virus. That’s still a true statement. However, this morning I read a very sad news story about Hana Horka, a woman from the Czech Republic who deliberately exposed herself to COVID-19. Why? Because like Germany, the Czech Republic is making life harder for the unvaccinated by denying them entry to restaurants, theaters, saunas, and the like. Unfortunately, her decision cost her dearly. Instead of heading for the nearest spa, newly recovered from COVID-19, this woman– only 57 years old when she died– is headed to the Great Beyond– whatever that is.

The story goes that Hana Horka, who was a member of famed Czech band Asonance, was against being vaccinated. Her son, Jan Rek, said that it wasn’t because she believed in any ridiculous conspiracy theories. She didn’t think, for instance, that anyone getting a vaccine was going to be implanted with microchips or have their DNA changed in some way. Rather, Rek says that his mother simply preferred to get COVID and have “natural immunity” to the virus instead of getting a vaccine.

According to Rek, over the Christmas holidays, he and his father, who are both fully vaccinated, both tested positive for COVID-19. Horka determined that this would be her chance to finally contract COVID-19 and qualify for a health pass. So, instead of isolating herself and avoiding her sick family members, Hana Horka deliberately exposed herself to COVID. She looked forward to getting the virus and eventually recovering, which would allow her the ability to, once again, access fun venues that are denied to unvaccinated people in many parts of Europe. Having recovered from the virus, Horka would also have been allowed to perform with Asonance without having to be vaccinated.

At first, it looked like her plan had worked. Two days before she died, Horka posted on social media, “I survived… It was intense. Now there will be theatre, sauna, a concert… and an urgent trip to the sea”. Unfortunately, that was not to be.

On the morning of her untimely death, Horka was feeling better. She got dressed to take a walk. But then her back started to hurt, so she went to her bedroom for a rest. Ten minutes later, she was dead, having choked to death.

I obviously don’t know what happened to cause Horka’s sudden demise, but I have read that COVID can cause blood clots. Perhaps she had a pulmonary embolism, which I know can and does kill people very suddenly. But her son mentions choking, which doesn’t sound like the same thing. Anyway, it’s a very sad loss, especially for her family members and friends, but also for anyone who enjoyed her talents. Asonance is the oldest folk band in the Czech Republic. I have no doubt that Horka’s music was beloved by many of her fellow Czechs as well as others around the world.

Hana Horka at work with her band. The music is over for her, now. I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat listening to this.

Horka’s son, Jan Rek, says that he blames the many “anti-vax” groups across Europe who have been protesting vaccine mandates. Approximately 63 percent of the population in the Czech Republic are fully vaccinated. Many of those who aren’t vaccinated have been protesting and rebelling against the government’s new restrictions. There are also reports of anti-vax groups holding “COVID parties”, in much the same way people in the 1970s deliberately exposed children to chicken pox. People who can prove that they have recovered from COVID-19 don’t have to be vaccinated, and they aren’t subjected to the restrictions that punish those who refuse to comply with vaccine mandates.

Rek says the anti-vax groups have “blood on their hands.” According to the Daily Beast, Rek also added:

“I know exactly who influenced her… It makes me sad that she believed strangers more than her proper family… It wasn’t just total disinformation but also views on natural immunity and antibodies acquired through infection.”

Rek said that it was pointless to discuss the merits of getting the vaccine with his mom because the discussion would very quickly become “emotional”. I heard similar comments about one of my unvaccinated sisters from my own mom, who had expressed concern to me that she refused the shots. Mom told me that she couldn’t talk to my sister about her worries, because my sister would very quickly get upset with her. Rek says that now he’s telling his mother’s story, hoping that might persuade some people to get vaccinated. It occurs to me that my sister, who has spent too much time in North Carolina, has a habit of saying “Holy Hannah!” as an exclamation. I can’t help but realize the next time I hear her say that, I’ll probably think of “Holy Hana…” in honor of this singer, who may very well literally be holy now.

I know that yesterday, I complained about the pandemic preaching and lectures on social media. I still do find that an annoying practice. However, I think sharing stories like this one is a valuable practice. The main difference is, like anyone else who has had direct experience with COVID, Hana Horka was a living, breathing, singing person who made real and measurable differences in people’s lives. In Hana’s case, it was obviously with her music, but I know there were other gifts she had that other people enjoyed. She made an unfortunate choice, that ultimately led to her destruction. Her story isn’t a “stale” meme, and it’s not been passed around social media like a plate of microwaved hors d’oeuvres at a party. This is real news, and unfortunately, Hana Horka is just one more face to add to the tragic tapestry of COVID-19 deaths.

Look at how much Hana Horka loved to perform. I wish I had discovered this band in a different way… not because a member died of COVID, but because they make beautiful music.
I think it’s profoundly sad that Hana can no longer sing with her band, all because of a tiny, destructive, deadly virus.

So, as much as I am sick and tired of face mask preaching social media posts, COVID-19 lectures, and arguments among friends and family, I do appreciate stories about real people who made choices, and how those choices worked out for them in the end. I do pay attention to their stories and I don’t laud their deaths. Listening to the videos above, I know that Hana Horka’s death is a real loss to many people. I wish she had chosen differently, and I hope her story informs those who need to know about it. But obviously, people are going to do what they’re going to do, and they’re going to believe what they’re going to believe.

My heart goes out to Horka’s family… especially her son, who obviously grieves for her. I’m sure it’s especially heartbreaking for him to know that his mother got the virus from him and his father. He probably lives with an especially hellish form of survivor’s guilt over that. I wish peace and comfort for them all.

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complaints, mental health, rants

Certain people remind me why I prefer hanging out with dogs…

Fair warning… this post is kind of cranky and negative. You may not want to read it, but I really felt like writing it.

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine shared a stale Facebook post about the importance of getting COVID vaccines, even if we don’t know what’s in them. The post also reminded everyone that we don’t know what’s in a lot of things we consume. My friend added the comment that people who refuse to be vaccinated should not be shown compassion or mercy when they eventually get sick with COVID-19.

That post, along with an accompanying judgmental, frustrated, angry attitude, was one I have seen many times since the vaccines first became available. I couldn’t help but feel a slight twinge of irritation as I prepared to scroll past it. I mean, it’s been two years. Most people have made up their minds and don’t necessary want or need a stale PSA/meme/recycled social media post to change their views.

But then I noticed that one of my friend’s friends had written a rebuttal– not against the wisdom of getting inoculated, but against the attitude that people who don’t get vaccinated are undeserving of medical care. I liked what the man said– that there is no “sin” in not getting vaccinated, especially since the initial promises regarding vaccination turned out to be somewhat invalid.

Let me make it abundantly clear that I do believe the vaccinations are good, and I certainly recommend that people get the shots. I have been fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19, and I spend most of my time alone in my house. I take my dogs for walks, but other than that, I don’t go around other people. When I do go around others, I wear a mask as required. And it’s not even so much COVID-19 that has forced me into this isolated lifestyle. I kind of fell into it years ago, when I found myself outside of the work world.

I used to enjoy going out on the weekends, visiting tourist sites, and eating in restaurants. But now, thanks to the miserable and ever changing COVID-19 rules in Europe, even that’s unappealing to me. It’s too confusing, inconvenient, and potentially embarrassing to go out into the world. So I stay home and read hyperbolic comments from high and mighty people in the United States, bitching about how uncaring other people are, and how if they get sick and aren’t vaccinated, they totally deserve to suffer.

My friend had posted about how irresponsible and uncaring unvaccinated people were running around “murdering” people by being infectious. From the very beginning, I have cringed when I’ve read or heard someone accuse someone with COVID of “murder”. Folks, at best, someone who spreads COVID-19 might be guilty of negligent homicide or involuntary manslaughter. And even that is a stretch, given that people pick up germs all the time, in all sorts of situations, and there are many variables that influence how well their bodies will cope with, and hopefully recover from, any of the germs they pick up.

Murder generally requires premeditation and malice, and using the extreme and alarmist term “murder” is, in my view, an unnecessary overstatement– especially since most people who get COVID do eventually recover, at least to some extent. This situation sucks plenty already, and it’s already caused incredible hardship and grief. We don’t need to make it worse by calling people who spread COVID “murderers”, when they would never fit the definition of “murderer” in a court of law– at least not in the United States.

My friend also wrote that people who are unvaccinated should not have access to medical care. And again, as I have repeatedly stated, I highly disagree with that view– especially from someone who professes to be a devout Christian, as my friend does. I am not particularly religious myself, but I did go to church for many years. And I was taught that Jesus Christ had compassion and mercy, especially for the sick. Jesus would not deny medical care to someone who needs it, even if that person could have avoided severe illness by getting vaccinated and taking precautions.

Moreover, even if the unvaccinated person has wantonly avoided vaccination and adopted an uncaring, callous attitude, chances are good that the person will still be missed by someone. Chances are also good that someone relied on that person and now no longer has them. That person in need could be a child, or an elderly person, or someone with special needs. Now, their life is going to be upended because someone they needed got sick and died unexpectedly… and people are mocking them, to boot! These people who call for us to have compassion and consideration for others are actually laughing at people who have died of COVID. Of course, dead people aren’t the ones who hear the laughter; it’s their grieving friends and loved ones who are left to deal with that.

Ah– but you might say, if that was the case, then the person should have made it a priority to get vaccinated. To that, I might agree– except we never know why a person has avoided getting the shots. It could be because they simply don’t care, or it could be because he or she has to work, and can’t afford to take time off to recover from potential side effects of the vaccine. Or maybe that person lives in an area that isn’t near a place where he or she can get the shots. There are a lot of “food deserts” in the United States. I would imagine that the food deserts are also pharmaceutical deserts. In any case, I don’t think it’s helpful to laugh about someone’s death. It happens to all of us at some point.

So, I found myself responding with most of the above points to my friend, even though I hesitated at first. I added that here in Europe, lawmakers have tackled the problem of unvaccinated people by trying to make life harder for them. In some areas, for instance, unvaccinated people are being fined, and some are losing their jobs over lack of vaccination. Here in Germany, an unvaccinated person often can’t go into a restaurant or a non-essential retail outlet. They can’t go to theaters or sports arenas. Even those who have been twice vaccinated have to show a negative test result or proof that they’ve been boosted. And guess what! The virus is STILL spreading!

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be taking precautions. It just means that all of the preaching and yammering about masks and vaccines, as if they are going to save humanity, is not necessarily based in truth. Vaccines make severe sicknesses and deaths from COVID less likely, but they don’t entirely stop sicknesses and deaths from happening. So shaming people for not doing exactly what they’re told is kind of pointless, since even if they do what they’re supposed to do, they still might get sick. And no doubt about it, every person WILL someday die of something.

Last night, Bill took Noyzi to the vet to get routine doggy vaccines. Before he could get services, he had to show the receptionist his ID, plus his “COVPass”, which is an app on his phone that provides proof that he’s had his three shots. And then, he STILL had to wait outside. Then he was ushered into the treatment room where our sweet Zane was euthanized in 2019, before all of this stupid shit started.

So what prompted this post? Over the past couple of days, I’ve seen several other “tut tut” posts from supposed friends about the importance of masking and vaccines. And folks, I’ll be honest… I am so sick of seeing them. It’s been two years. If people haven’t gotten the message by now, I doubt they ever will. These kinds of PSAs tend to elicit positive responses from those who have already jumped on the bandwagon, and derisive, snarky responses from those who think masking is a waste of time. And then there are people like me, who just want to get on with life and be done with this shit, for better or worse.

Are people really going to put on a mask because they saw this? I also hate the cutesy little slogans, like “mask up”. I feel like telling a person who says this to “fuck off.” I know that’s not nice, but it’s my honest reaction.

Also… as someone who never saw Star Wars, this reference is lost on me, anyway. Bill is a Star Wars fan, so he clued me in. I know people are going to share this shit anyway, so writing this post is really my only action against this practice. I’m also a firm believer that people should share what they want to on their social media accounts. Still, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t vexed by the constant preaching and lecturing.

Not surprisingly, this one comes from the Cook County Department of Public Health.

While I agree that it is responsible to wear a mask when you’re in a crowd of people, I find these kinds of shaming posts irritating and offensive. Because again– those who don’t believe in masking are not going to be swayed by something like this, and those who are onboard with the program will be cheerleading, and people like me, who believe in science, but are fucking sick of reading and hearing about COVID, are just going to be aggravated by it. When I see these posts, I’m just reminded of how much this sucks. Ditto to those who argue with strangers online, and implore them with comments like “Please educate yourself.” as if they are the authority on all things.

I do hope that COVID-19 will present us with a “silver lining” of sorts. Like, for instance, I think our healthcare system needs a massive overhaul, particularly in terms of the financial aspects of it. Obviously, we all need access to affordable healthcare. In the case of a contagious disease like COVID-19, it’s absolutely crucial and essential that people be able to access competent healthcare, even if some people think the unvaccinated shouldn’t get treatment or comfort measures. That person who stubbornly refused to be vaccinated can still spread the virus, you know, even as they writhe in the death throes that some think they richly deserve. It’s in our best interest to take care of the sick people, even if they chose not to be vaccinated or, in some cases, simply were unable to access the shots. You probably won’t know which case they fall under, and honestly, who’s got time to ask?

Maybe this situation will help us prepare for the next pandemic, and you know there will be one. Hopefully, by the time it hits, I’ll already be dead. But maybe some people will learn from this… maybe. Or maybe some really smart person will come up with ways to make mitigating this virus easier and more effective, so life won’t be so shitty anymore. One can always hope. But for now, I’m probably going to continue to be really crabby. At least I still have my dogs.

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complaints, family, holidays

That “damned ham”, and our crappy Thanksgiving… Things are looking better today, though.

Our Thanksgiving dinner was not much better than Charlie Brown’s… This post is probably going to be depressing, so I offer fair warning.

I hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving had a good day yesterday. Our Thanksgiving, quite frankly, kind of sucked. It’s partly my fault, I guess. Bill and I just never got around to making any concrete plans for what we were going to make for the holiday. He bought a two pound raw ham, because it’s just us, and we don’t have tons of refrigerator space. Then, as the afternoon got later, I reminded Bill that it was Thanksgiving, and he said he’d bought the ham. This was “special”, because we almost never have ham that wasn’t sliced for sandwiches at the deli. Other than that, we had our usual mashed potatoes and peas, and no rolls, gravy, special dessert or anything.

That “damned ham” wasn’t that great. It had kind of a gray look to it, which gave me the willies. I’m used to ham that is pink. But it turned out the ham wasn’t spoiled or anything. I’m just not used to having one that isn’t cured. It was a bit dry and tasteless. I would have preferred roasted duck or chicken, I guess. Oh well.

Last year, we ordered our Thanksgiving dinner from a local restaurant that caters to Americans. This year, we didn’t see their ad for the dinner until it was too late to order. I also remember that last year, we had leftovers forever. Even half a turkey is too much for us to finish on our own, and it came with a bunch of sides. The food was delicious, but way more than enough for us.

I used to really enjoy cooking and was good at it, but Bill kind of took over that task some years ago. And he’s been working a lot and, I guess, was kind of tired and didn’t think to do anything particularly special yesterday. Neither of us really thought about what we should do for the holiday. He looked so tired last night that I suggested ordering sushi or something, but he said he wanted to cook the ham. So he did… At least the wine was good. We had an Amarone from Tuscany.

And we later had a talk that was kind of like this… Bill will probably never live down that “damned ham”, which wasn’t salty at all…

Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday. I used to love visiting my extended family in Virginia, hanging out with my aunts, uncles, cousins, and beloved Granny. Now, a number of aunts and uncles and my Granny are dead, and we have a pandemic going on that’s gotten worse. A number of Christmas markets were set to start and had even gotten their kiosks set up, only to be canceled at the last minute thanks to COVID-19… and then our Thanksgiving meal was like any other meal on any other night.

It’s not even so much the lack of special food that was disappointing… I guess what disappointed me was that it was like any other day. I miss seeing people and doing fun things, like going out to eat in restaurants. Things had been slightly more normal in the warmer months, but now that winter is approaching, the weather is grey, damp, and depressing; it’s cold; and everywhere in Europe is locking down again.

We thought about going to lunch, but we were waiting for a package to get here, and German delivery drivers don’t often just leave packages like they do in the States. Then, Bill was supposed to have a session with his therapist, but the therapist canceled because he was sick. So we just hung out at home, like we would on any other Thursday. All my friends were posting pictures of their family gatherings and food on Facebook. And there we were with that “damned ham”.

Here in Germany, authorities are starting to implement a new system that requires even vaccinated people to get tested before they can go anywhere. It seems like too much of a pain in the ass to me, so we just skip it and stay home. And well… it just kind of sucks. The 2G+ system isn’t required everywhere– yet… but we’re also getting to the end of our vaccination efficacy, and some of Bill’s co-workers are getting boosters. I guess we’ll be getting ours soon, too.

To look on the bright side, at least we didn’t eat too much, didn’t get indigestion, don’t have tons of leftovers, and had a minimal mess to clean up. We won’t be gaining any weight. It was also nice to be with Bill yesterday, as it always is. He’s my favorite person. I was just kind of disappointed, I guess. Thanksgiving really is just another day in Germany. I think I’m missing home a little bit, too, even though holidays with my family can turn into an emotional minefield.

In 2014, I went to Virginia for what has, so far, been my last Thanksgiving at home. We went because my dad died that year, and we had a memorial for him. While we were there, I talked to my Uncle Carl, who sadly passed away about six weeks later. He had leukemia. But during that visit, he was still alive and we talked about a tenant who was living in a spare apartment he owned. He was talking about how he was trying to help him. As we were talking, my Uncle Bill approached and said to Carl, “That guy who is living in your apartment is a P.O.W.”

I looked up at Uncle Bill in confusion and he said, “Piece of work.” Apparently, the tenant who was living in my uncle’s spare apartment was not paying rent. However, he kept the apartment spotless. Carl wanted to help him because the tenant had a girlfriend who was pregnant. She was getting welfare assistance, so they couldn’t live together. Carl’s wife, Betty, couldn’t stand the tenant and was barely civil to him. Betty, also, has sadly passed on, as she was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease at the time. Carl had been taking care of her until he got cancer. I’m so glad I was able to go home that year. Carl spoke at my dad’s memorial service. But it wasn’t much longer before Carl had a memorial service of his own, which of course I couldn’t attend.

I remember thinking, the last time I was “home” for Thanksgiving, that that would be the last time I saw some of the people who attended that year. I was right about that. In 2015 alone, I lost three uncles. By 2019, I’d lost an aunt and another uncle. Last year, I lost a cousin and my father-in-law. And in 2020, there was no Thanksgiving shindig, thanks to COVID-19, which continues to fuck things up in 2021, even though we have vaccines and new medications.

Even as I feel this “ennui”– which is pretty normal for me, because I often get a little depressed and nutty during the holiday season– I realize that I probably shouldn’t feel this way, since we are actually pretty fortunate. We did, after all, just have a fabulous trip to Austria, Croatia, and Slovenia, and we managed to do it before everything started shutting down again. But then I remind myself that feelings are just feelings. They usually pass. It’s not helpful to feel guilty for being sad.

We went to bed at our usual time last night. I had a vivid dream that involved an online friend of mine and occasional blog reader and commenter named Andrew. I dreamt that Bill and I took over a mini amusement park Andrew and his wife started. It was built into the side of a mountain, and there were train tracks around it. They had also lived in the park, which was all indoors. I remember that as Bill and I took it over, I had resolved to start slowly, building one attraction at a time, so we wouldn’t get overwhelmed. We had just built the carousel when I woke up.

Then, this morning, Bill gave me some news about his daughter. A couple of months ago, he remarked that she was “glowing” during their Skype session. I made an offhand comment that she was probably pregnant. Well… last night, they made the announcement. It’s funny, since I have only met her in person once, and didn’t actually see her on that Skype session where she was “glowing”. I usually don’t hang around when they chat. But when Bill mentioned the glowing look in September, I had a feeling she was about to expand her family. Guess my instincts were dead on again. Then, Bill gave me a cup of coffee and a Berliner that he got from the local bakery. That was better than that damned ham…

Anyway… enough of my whinging. Bill is working from home today. I am washing all the bedding, which is always a treat at bedtime. I love having fresh, clean sheets on a bed. And we do have much to be grateful for, like the fact that we have each other, plenty of food, and the means to put fresh sheets on the bed. At least we’re not in prison, right? There’s fresh hope for 2022, as Bill looks forward to becoming a grandfather again. And we can always have a special meal. Maybe we’ll go out for one this weekend, or even make one at home. Bill likes cooking with me… but I don’t like cooking with him. I’m not much of a team player. 😉

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business, complaints, rants

I’m not loving it at the Golden Arches… another COVID related rant.

I have a bunch of travel writing to do, and I am definitely going to get to it. But before I dive into travel blogging, I have to rant about something that happened yesterday as we were driving home from Austria. I’m sure some people reading this will come to the conclusion that I was being a “Karen” (a term I loathe, by the way). If you want to think of me in that way, it’s your privilege. However, I think my complaint makes some sense… especially if you live in Europe, where COVID rules and regulations change at every border, and at the whims of whomever is in charge.

Alright… so now that I’ve issued a disclaimer of sorts, here’s my story.

Bill and I just took a trip that took us through Germany, Austria, Slovenia, and Croatia. In every place, there were different COVID-19 rules in effect regarding mask wearing, vaccines, and what not. In Austria, if you have been vaccinated, you don’t even need to wear a mask, unless you’re on a bus, in a grocery store, or visiting a medical facility. In Slovenia, masks were supposedly required, but very few people wore them properly, or at all. Same with Croatia, where almost everyone who wore a mask had it under their noses or chins. Croatia and Slovenia are supposedly COVID “hot spots”, although the places we visited were almost completely devoid of people.

In Germany, masks are still required indoors, and some regions have rules that are stricter than others. In Bavaria, for instance, customers are supposed to wear masks. However, a surgical mask is evidently not enough. You’re supposed to wear a FFP2 mask, which is thicker and looks like a coffee filter. Because they’re really thick and close fitting, I can’t stand to wear them. So I don’t. That’s not a problem in Hesse, where I live, because here, a surgical mask works. And people, on the whole, are less anal retentive in Hesse than they are in some of the more southern regions of Germany.

Anyway, I guess Bavaria had loosened up on the masking protocols over the summer, because on our way to Austria on October 26th, we stopped at a roadside McDonald’s for lunch. We had to show the cashier that we were vaccinated, and of course, we wore masks. However, I, and many of the other people in the restaurant, wore surgical masks, and no one said a word about it. No one said anything at the rest stops we used in Bavaria, either, going to or coming back from the more southern countries we visited.

On the way home yesterday, we ended up stopping at the same McDonald’s for lunch. I hadn’t wanted to stop there again, but when we tried to stop at a different roadside restaurant, there was no parking available for cars. The spaces were all taken up by tractor trailers. The next available stop was the same one we visited on the way down to Austria on October 26th. Again, we visited that restaurant not two weeks ago and had no issues, even though I wasn’t wearing the much vaunted FFP2 mask, nor were many of the other people in the restaurant.

I wasn’t smiling with my eyes… that is for sure.

We walked into the McDonald’s, which was pretty empty. To get to the counter, we had to walk past the restrooms and up a flight of stairs. We approached the cashier who, without saying “Hello” or “Welcome” or “Kiss my ass” or anything, pointed to me and said I needed a FFP2 mask. I probably gave her an extremely annoyed look. Then I turned to Bill and said, “Nope. Forget it. Let’s just go.”

FUCK.

So we turned around and left the McDonald’s. Then we went to the neighboring Burger King and got lunch there, although we decided to eat it in the car. I probably will never return to that McDonald’s, because I will always remember the rude way that cashier in an empty restaurant told me it wasn’t enough that I have been fully vaccinated and was wearing a medical mask. I also needed to be wearing the coffee filter for the ten seconds I would be face to face with that woman, who was, herself, along with her fellow crew members, wearing a simple surgical mask.

I actually did have a brand new FFP2 mask in my purse, but I realized that in order to comply with the rules, I’d have to leave the restaurant, take off my surgical mask, put on the FFP2 mask, then go back in, climb the flight of stairs, show my vaccine certs, and then sit down at a table, where I would promptly remove the mask so we could have a rather crappy lunch. It seemed like an unnecessary and pointless exercise, when all I wanted to do was pick up some food and quickly eat before I turned into a hangry Godzilla.

Frankly, that exchange, while likely in compliance with Bavaria’s current COVID-19 rules, was very off-putting. The experience of eating at a McDonald’s is, in and of itself, pretty off-putting, anyway. It seemed absurd to me that just 24 hours earlier, Bill and I visited a beautiful restaurant in Salzburg, where we wore masks inside and were advised we could remove them entirely, once we showed the hostess proof of vaccination.

I realize that the cashier was just doing what she was ordered to do, and I did, after the fact, read that the rules changed again as of yesterday morning. I know that working at McDonald’s, even in a civilized country like Germany, is probably not the most fun job there is, and I know it doesn’t pay very well. I don’t know how much anxiety was involved for her in pointing out to me that my medical mask wasn’t suitable. My guess, given that it was Bavaria, is that she probably enjoyed enforcing the rules. She probably doesn’t care that we left the restaurant disappointed and unsatisfied. However, if enough people end up doing that, I’m not sure how long that restaurant can stay in business.

My complaint isn’t even so much with the cashier who was following the rules, as it is with the fact that the rules in Bavaria differ so much from the rules in other areas. Since that restaurant is at a truck stop, it serves people who are coming from all over Europe, driving from places that have different rules that change by the region or the ever changing hospital rates. A lot of them may not be aware of or prepared for Bavaria’s quirkier rules which, to be honest, are probably not much more than optics that make it look like Bavaria is doing “more” to stop the spread of the virus.

Seriously… stop and think about it for a minute. Bill wore a FFP2 mask, but it’s one he’s used repeatedly for I don’t know how long. Those masks cost significantly more than surgical masks do, so people tend to reuse them for long periods of time, which hinders their effectiveness. Changing out the masks is also something that people don’t necessarily think to do, even if the cost of them isn’t a burden. People tend to put them on for as long as required, take them off, and stuff them somewhere convenient for quick and easy compliance.

For that reason, I am convinced that this rule is just about optics and trying to “look” more aggressive. It’s probably a political move more than anything else. As long as you wear the “right” mask, it doesn’t matter that it’s months old. You just have to look like you’re in compliance. I’m sure my fresher surgical mask was less polluted and probably “safer” than Bill’s nasty, overused FFP2 was. But because his was a FFP2, he was deemed as following the rules in an otherwise empty restaurant, while I didn’t pass muster.

The disposable masks also create pollution. I’ve seen quite a lot of them tossed on the ground. And it also doesn’t look like the FFP2 masks are even that much more effective. Though Bavaria has required the heavier masks since January 2021, they’re obviously still having issues with the spread of the virus. That’s not going to improve until more people get vaccinated or develop antibodies. The stupid mask procedures are just a Band-Aid, especially when they are arbitrarily enforced, and not required of staff members.

I didn’t argue with the McDonald’s cashier. I didn’t flip her off, threaten her, swear at her, or even say anything particularly snarky. I just looked really annoyed and said, “Nope. Forget it. Let’s go.” Then we turned around and left, not having done any business with the huge American monstrosity that is McDonald’s. That pretty much means that McDonald’s doesn’t offer a product worth jumping through hoops for, nor did the cashier’s less than friendly and welcoming attitude make me want to cooperate with her. So we went to their competitor, instead. The food wasn’t any better there, but at least it satisfied my hunger long enough to get us home before I went full on Godzilla.

And now, I’m thinking I won’t be voluntarily doing any business in Bavaria until this COVID bullshit is mitigated. Nothing against the Bavarians, but there are other places I can visit where I don’t have to jump through endless anal retentive hoops to accomplish the most basic activities of life. Sheesh… I know I’m complaining, but give me a break. I come from the United States, where people are actually coming to physical blows over COVID rules. Americans aren’t the only ones, either. Some Germans are starting to get fed up, too. Recently, a German man shot and killed a cashier at a gas station because he felt constrained by the rules and was upset about government overreach. Sadly, some Germans who are similarly fed up were laughing and cheering about the murder.

I also read a fascinating story yesterday about how some American McDonald’s employees in Bradford, Pennsylvania are fed up with the crappy working conditions and low pay there. Almost the entire day shift walked off the job. I can’t blame them at all for that. I don’t know if it’s better to work at a German McDonald’s… it probably is. The food is only marginally better, anyway. I do think it’s kind of funny to be so concerned about FFP2 masks when McDonald’s is unhealthy on so many levels. Properly worn, the FFP2 masks supposedly protect the wearer from viruses, but then they get exposed to the food at McDonald’s.

To be clear, I certainly don’t think it’s appropriate to resort to physical violence or kill people over face masks… but I’m not going to voluntarily accept being forced to wear a FFP2 as a condition of doing business, unless that becomes the norm everywhere, is required of everyone, and is consistently enforced. Bavaria and its hyper-controlling powers-that-be can just stick that shit where the sun doesn’t shine… and that sure does describe my disposition yesterday, as we left the Golden Arches for the more welcoming Burger King next door.

Come to think of it… it’s healthier all the way around not to visit the Golden Arches. Maybe I should thank the Bavarians for that. 😉

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