Sometime last night, I scratched my left cornea. Consequently, I have to wear my glasses today. My eye hurts and is watering, which makes my nose run. I feel tired and a little depressed, like I just want to go back to bed and sleep until my eye heals. It hurts to do anything that requires me to use my eyes, like typing this post. Consequently, today’s fresh content will probably be kind of skimpy. That’s also why there were so many reposts today. I hope someone will find the book reviews interesting.
My glasses need to be upgraded, since my left eye is a little bit weaker than it was when I got my prescription in 2017. I look like crap today. My hair is a mess and my eye is all irritated. I may not manage to walk the dogs today, even though we all could use the exercise.
I need to go to the eye doctor. I really would like to go and make an appointment for LASIK surgery, so I can ditch glasses and contact lenses. I also need to go to the dentist. We do have an appointment for that in late August. My car needs to go to the mechanic, so the top will go down (it’s a convertible). For some reason, the top won’t open all the way. It might be because Bill had to change the battery and shorted out something. I think we have an appointment for that, too. It’ll be good to catch up on the chores that were routine before the pandemic began last year.
Bill and I enjoyed celebrating his birthday last night… although I can’t say it was unlike any other night at our house. We listened to music and drank wine with dinner. We watched the dogs play and talked. It wasn’t a bad way to spend the evening, but it also wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Bill’s birthdays tend to get a lot less fanfare than mine get. But I hope we can plan a long weekend somewhere soon, and maybe celebrate a little bit more.
COVID-19 still makes things suck. I read an article this morning about how four vaccinated people working in the California Capitol building tested positive, causing the mask mandates to be reinstated. I didn’t read that the people who tested positive and were vaccinated were symptomatic, but they did contract COVID-19. I think it’s inevitable that most of us are going to eventually get COVID. The vaccines will make the disease less severe. There will be fewer deaths and hospitalizations. But, like the common cold, I think COVID is here to stay. Hopefully, it will eventually become much less dangerous and this fucking face mask culture will go away. I am so over it. I hate the masks, but I also hate that the whole thing has become so politicized. Case in point, check out the screenshot below.
I just want to go back to living a normal lifestyle. Although, I guess in fairness, my lifestyle isn’t all that normal even when there isn’t a pandemic. Anyway, I was thinking maybe I might explore some more music today, but I feel kind of shitty because of my eye. It hurts less when I close my eyes… so maybe that’s what I’ll do. But I can tell Noyzi won’t like that. I hear him whining for a walk as I type this.
I don’t really feel like putting on clothes and walking the dogs… I just want to crawl back into bed. WAHHHH.
On another note, I did watch this hilarious ad by George Clooney for a contest he’s running (the video is no longer available, so I deleted it). Seriously, it’s worth watching, even if I could drive to Lake Como if I wanted to. In fact, we have driven there. It’s an experience for those who don’t mind aggressive Italians who tailgate.
I like George Clooney. He seems like a normal guy with an extraordinary life. I would enter his contest, as long as I don’t have to watch his episodes of The Facts of Life. That was not a career highlight for him.
There has been quite an interesting array of news stories lately. Last night, I read a truly heartwarming story about a young man in Alabama who showed up to work the morning shift at a Waffle House on his graduation day. He’d had the day scheduled off, but his mom had to work and couldn’t take him to the ceremony, and he is not in touch with his dad. So he went to work, instead.
The 18 year old, whose name is Timothy Harrison, wanted to walk across the stage to get that diploma he’d worked so hard to earn. But since there was no way to make it happen, he resigned himself to going to work and making some money, instead. Timothy’s boss, Cedric Hampton, wasn’t having it. He and the assistant manager, as well as other co-workers and a couple of customers banded together to see to it that Timothy could have that rite of passage experience that is so important for so many.
By the time I’d finished reading this uplifting story, I had tears welling in my eyes. I was truly moved to read this story about good people doing great things. Americans love to help an underdog, and they are capable of great support and largesse for people who have a good story. Timothy Harrison’s story was so good that he also got a full scholarship from Lawson State Community College, whose faculty members got wind of his work ethic. Now, instead of following his plan continuing to wait tables at the Waffle House and, perhaps, later joining the military (which isn’t actually a bad plan for many people), Harrison will be going to college to study business and computer science.
As you know, I have nothing against people who join the military. It’s a great career for plenty of folks, my husband included. BUT– it’s not for everyone… and thanks to the kindness of Timothy Harrison’s “Waffle House work family”, Harrison will have another choice that could potentially change his life’s course forever. And that change could have significant ripple effects for other people in Timothy’s life. Thinking about that made me feel great and hopeful for the future.
Although a lot of people are ditching the masks as COVID-19 infections are waning among the vaccinated, not all areas are yet finished with the mask requirements. Such is the case in Decatur, Georgia, where Victor Lee Tucker, age 30, had stopped to pick up groceries at a Big Bear Supermarket. Mr. Tucker was not properly wearing a mask when he approached the cashier (now identified by police as Laquitta Willis, 41) to pay for his items. Tucker and the cashier got into an argument about how he was wearing his mask (according to the Washington Post, Tucker was wearing a mask, but not correctly). He got pissed off and left without buying the items. But then he immediately came back and shot the cashier, killing her.
Tucker also shot 54 year old Danny Jordan, the off duty police officer who was moonlighting as a security guard at the store. Fortunately, Jordan was wearing a bulletproof vest, which probably saved his life. Another cashier was slightly wounded by a bullet that grazed her. She was treated at the scene, while the cashier and Tucker, who was shot by the guard, were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. Tucker is listed in stable condition. Deputy Jordan, who was shot twice, went to Atlanta Medical Center, where he is also listed in stable condition.
I have not made it a secret that I despise the face masks. I think that while they are helpful in preventing the spread of virus particles, they also cause a lot of problems for many people. For that reason, it’s my hope that they go away soon. Too many people are being inconvenienced by the masks, but more troublingly, people are also DYING over enforcing their use. Imagine trying to avoid getting COVID-19 and dying anyway because you asked someone to wear a mask properly and they shot you! Edited to add, June 16th– the indoor mask mandate was in effect in Decatur, Georgia on Monday, when Willis was killed. It’s due to expire next week.
But people definitely shouldn’t be killing and dying over the face mask issue. Of course Tucker was absolutely wrong to kill the cashier over something so utterly stupid. He probably shot her because he felt the need to “protect his freedoms”. Maybe he felt like the mask was oppressive and was finally fed up with being “oppressed”. Maybe that was why he felt justified in killing an innocent person. But that was an erroneous notion on his part. And now, he will lose his freedom and be forced to wear a prison uniform and, it’s very likely, a face mask, along with all the other stuff prisoners are forced to wear.
In all seriousness, it does make me sad to think about Tucker going to prison over this. He’s a 30 year old man, who had his whole life ahead of him. I don’t know what kind of a person he is when he isn’t losing his cool and blowing hourly wage earning cashiers away over face mask rage. I’d like to hope he’s not all bad, as I don’t think most people are all bad. But it’s hard to understand why someone would be so unhinged that he’d just callously snuff out some innocent lady’s life because of a face mask. It’s tragic and ridiculous on so many levels.
Personally, I think if I were in the States, I wouldn’t confront anyone over the masks. It’s just not worth it. Our culture is so strange– people are encouraged to be “nice”, and we hate confrontations and conflict. And yet, so many of us are carrying weapons! And so many are apparently on the edge of insanity! Would Tucker have killed anyone two years ago, before COVID-19 face mask requirements was a thing? I honestly think that the risk of getting the virus may be lower than the risk of being shot in some parts of the USA. There have been so many stories about people killing and dying over face masks! It’s crazy! It baffles me that so many Americans seem to enjoy busting people over the masks. The New York Times called it a “new American pastime.” I think I’d be too scared to say anything to someone about the masks. I’d rather just get away from them.
I don’t know if the cashier was required to enforce the mask policy or she just decided to on her own. I would certainly never say that she shouldn’t feel free to enforce the mask requirements in a private business. BUT… there is a real danger in doing so, as her story, as well as so many others, have shown. I hope there will come a day soon when the mask requirements go away so this particular issue won’t be something people continue to die over.
And that makes me think of something else… does it seem to you like America has gotten way more extreme? It seems like fewer people are moderate nowadays. I feel like I run into more extremely “woke” people and extremely conservative people than I used to. I still tend to be pretty middle of the road– leaning a bit more left lately, but not extremely so. But the past five years, which I have not spent in the States, make me a little scared to go back home. I feel like today’s America is not the America I knew.
According to the Washington Post, 2020 was the deadliest year for shootings and, so far, 2021 is even worse. Within the first five months of 2021, 8100 people in the United States lost their lives to gun violence. Much of the violence seems to come from frustration and anger over the pandemic situation and all of the problems that are affiliated with it. The Washington Post reports that the violence started to edge upwards from April 2020, when the virus started to become a real problem. I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to “normal”… but it sure is sad to me that a deadly virus killed so many people and so many citizens are also dying because of gun violence… or they’re being hit and run, like my old friend Matt was last month. The week Matt died, another person was also killed in a hit and run in the same area. It’s also a problem on the rise, perhaps caused by very angry people who have no regard for other people.
Well… at least I was able to start this post with a feel good story. I wish Timothy Harrison much luck as he embarks on what could be a very bright future. I hope he avoids gun violence and the virus. I hope he goes to school and sets the world on fire as he puts his promising work ethic to the test in a tough world. I, for one, would not want to be young again for anything! But I have high hopes for Harrison and his Waffle House family. His story, coupled with the cashier’s story, really show how awesome and awful Americans can be.
Happy Monday, everybody. I, for one, am glad the weekend is over. I spent it alone again, although it wasn’t without a little excitement. As I wrote in my travel blog, on Saturday night, our dog Noyzi was a naughty boy who ate part of a brand new toy. I explained the drama involved with that situation, and I’m happy to report that everything turned out fine. Noyzi is totally okay after that experience. It was upsetting and frustrating on many levels, though, because I unexpectedly found myself somewhat helpless in that situation. There was so much to think about that, two or three years ago, I wouldn’t have needed to consider.
Two years ago, my biggest issue would have been getting Noyzi into the back of the car for a trip to the vet’s office. But thanks to the pandemic, there was so much more to prepare for, right down to making sure I had a fucking face mask. In the end, it wasn’t necessary for me to rush Noyzi to the vet on Saturday night. It’s still unnerving that doing so would have been difficult. I guess if it had come down to it, I could have tried to get help from the neighbors, although I know the next door neighbor wasn’t home when this was happening.
COVID-19 has made things infinitely more complicated for everyone. I’ve noticed that people have less patience than they used to have. There’s also a marked decrease in civility across the board. I’ve noticed that people are a lot less willing to listen to opinions they don’t happen to share. And instead of just quietly scrolling by, they get into arguments that quickly get heated. Sometimes, those arguments are also offline. Which brings me to the title of today’s post.
Last night, I noticed I got a bunch of hits on an old post I wrote about the actor, Ricky Schroder, I had written for my old Google blog. I reposted that piece some time ago, mainly because I thought it was interesting. I know not everyone shares my opinions about what’s interesting and what’s not. When I repost things from the old blog, I notice they don’t tend to be read right away. But then, if something comes up in the news, people will find those reruns. Sometimes, that leads to interesting connections. For instance, I got a comment on the contact page last night from someone who had read a repost of a piece I wrote about seven years ago. I especially tend to get these kinds of comments on true crime posts– from true crime buffs, crime writers and researchers, and sometimes even friends and families of the victims or perpetrators.
Ricky Schroder posted a video to his Facebook page showing him confronting an employee at Costco, who wouldn’t let him in the store without a mask. Evidently, in the wake of the CDC’s recent announcement that face masks are no longer necessary for fully vaccinated people, Costco dropped its face mask requirements. However, the new rule only applies in places where local ordinances don’t still require masking. In Los Angeles, which is where Ricky wanted to shop at Costco, masking indoors still applies. That’s why Ricky was confronted by a Costco employee named Jason, who would not let him pass the front door. Jason sounds very much like he’s been well-trained by his corporate leaders. I sympathize with him, and commend him for keeping his cool, under the circumstances. But I guess if you live in Los Angeles, you might be used to seeing 80s era TV stars every day.
Ricky says that people should boycott Costco. He’s come to the store to get a refund and, I guess, to drop his membership. Bill and I had a Costco membership when we lived in Texas. It wasn’t very useful for us, since there’s only two of us in the house. I also don’t like shopping in big warehouses. However, I know that a lot of people love Costco and it’s a company that is reportedly very good to its employees. And, to be honest, I hate wearing face masks, so I wouldn’t want to shop at Costco right now, anyway. On one hand, I agree with Ricky that the idea that we should all wear masks indefinitely is not a good one. On the other hand, I also respect the rights of business owners to run their businesses the way they see fit. Costco is a private business, and especially as a Republican, Ricky Schroder should have respected that, and their right to set policies that work for their business. He doesn’t have to shop there, and it sounds like, from now on, he won’t.
As someone who used to have to deal with the public, I have a lot of empathy for Jason and his cohorts. And as someone who votes blue, but sometimes leans right, I understand how Ricky feels, too. I hate that COVID-19 has made everything so complicated and political. This should not be a political issue at all. It’s about avoiding getting sick and dying or spreading diseases that can kill other people. I think a person can be cooperative with policies and not be pro or against an issue. I know it’s trendy for people to make assumptions about a person’s politics by how they feel about masking or other hot button issues. Hell, I’m even guilty myself of figuring out who is pro Trump, simply based on their behavior. I remember a couple of years ago, I correctly surmised a couple of guys were Trump supporters because they got drunk and decided to test out a bullet proof vest. That’s just not the kind of thing the average liberal does… although I suppose it’s possible a Biden fan might try such a stunt.
What put this on my mind today? It’s partly because last night, I was reading a news article about how the new mask guidelines have caused mass confusion and strife in the United States. The CDC director, Rochelle Walensky, is now having to defend the new guidance as people have gotten up in arms about it. For approximately the last year (because the mask habit was slower to pick up in some areas than others) the overwhelming advice by public health experts has been to wear face masks. Just a couple of months ago, some experts were advising people to “double mask”. To be honest, that idea was not gonna fly with me at all. I found the idea of wearing two masks really horrifying. The idea that the air is so fouled with pathogens that I need to cover my face everywhere while wearing two masks? That just sounds dystopian to me. Nope… I will wear only one mask, and only where they are required and I can’t avoid going.
After the double mask fad that was going on a few months ago, it was very strange to hear the CDC suddenly reverse course. It was even stranger to hear the people who were begging people to listen to the experts at the CDC suddenly changing course, telling people NOT to listen to them. As I read that news article last night, I was reminded of how annoyed I was last year when people kept sharing the “public urination” meme, comparing wearing a mask to wearing pants and not peeing on people. I lost my temper with more than one person who shared that with me, partly because unlike many people who were sharing it, I’ve actually taken courses in epidemiology and worked in the public health field. The comparison of spreading COVID-19 to public urination was just non-sensical to me. They aren’t comparable situations. Who goes around peeing on people? Even if they did, avoiding pee is much easier than avoiding airborne viruses or other microscopic microbes.
Last night, I read an angry comment from some guy who compared going maskless to driving drunk. Once again, I was shaking my head at the lunacy. Driving drunk is something that only people who drink alcohol and drive cars do. Not everyone drives. Not everyone drinks alcohol. And not everyone chooses to drink and drive. We all have to breathe, though, and until COVID-19 showed up, breathing uninhibited by a face mask was completely appropriate and okay. Moreover, even those who wear masks can spread the virus or catch it, even though the risk is much lower. But if you don’t breathe, you will die. Breathing is necessary for living. Driving a car and/or drinking booze or both are not necessary for living. The masks aren’t normal, and we shouldn’t normalize this situation. This is a temporary condition and it should be treated as such.
Ditto to the seatbelt argument. To me, the masks aren’t like seatbelts. Seatbelts are only worn in the car or on the airplane. They don’t inhibit communication, breathing, eating, drinking, socializing, vision (because of fogging up or the mask riding up), or hearing (because of the ear loops that sometimes knock out hearing aids or make lip reading hard). Moreover, we’ll probably all be wearing seatbelts for the rest of our lives… at least until cars are obsolete. The masks, on the other hand, I hope are temporary. Even if we can’t get rid of COVID, I’m hoping someone will come up with a way to temper the virus so it’s not such a threat anymore. Car accidents, I fear, are always going to be a threat to human life, no matter what.
Mark my words… someone will come up with some kind of HVAC system that kills viruses… or some other system that eventually makes the masks unnecessary indoors. A year ago, I was worried that the masks would become trendy forever, but now I know that people really do want to be rid of them. That’s comforting to me.
In any case… none of this drama affects me personally. I’m still in Germany, where vaccinations are finally picking up, but aren’t as widespread as they are in the United States. The Rewe is still only letting 35 properly masked people in their stores at a time. Things are still shut down here, although there is talk that fully vaccinated or recovered people will be allowed more freedoms. Actually, that is currently the case in Germany, although I can’t enjoy it myself until next month. I don’t get shot #2 until June 9th, and I won’t be considered fully vaccinated until the 23rd. However, it is comforting to see that widespread sickness is going down in the USA. The vaccines are working. With any luck, things will get markedly better soon for a lot of people. Frankly, I’m just glad that in a few days, Bill will (hopefully) be home… and if Noyzi eats another toy, we can handle it together. As for Ricky Schroder… I hope he finds a retailer whose policies are more in line with his right wing politics.
This is a contrast to the advice given two weeks ago, that vaccinated adults could ditch their masks outside– and they could also potentially ditch them inside, but only if they’re with other fully vaccinated adults. Now they’re evidently saying it doesn’t matter if others aren’t also vaccinated. Masks among vaccinated people will, evidently, only be necessary at medical facilities and on public transportation, like trains, buses, and airplanes. A month ago, there was all this news about deadly new variants and how we’ll never reach herd immunity. And now, the news seems to be signaling the end, or at least a pause, in the worst part of the pandemic.
I remember last year, when all of this shit started, I told Bill that eventually, the government would be asking people to venture out again. They would do it because the economy would be in a shambles. I also predicted that many people would not want to venture out. They would be too shell-shocked and traumatized by all of the COVID-19 doom porn, even with all of the safety precautions in place. Sure enough, based on the comments I read on The New York Times piece I linked above, that is what has come to pass. Governments are now saying they want to reopen things– New York City has even made a plea for tourists to return. In Europe, governments are trying to find ways to open up to tourists so they can make money. Vaccines are supposedly working pretty well, although new COVID-19 variants are also coming out all the time. The face masks are a downer, and allowing people to dispense with them if they get the shot(s) is one way to encourage vaccine cooperation.
The funny thing is, all year I’ve been reading indignant comments from pro-mask people about how science changes, and that’s why in early March of 2020, we were all being told NOT to buy face masks by the U.S. Surgeon General, and then that advice had changed within weeks. Now, since the CDC is saying that vaccinated people will be able to enjoy some freedom, many of the same people who were once extolling the virtues of science and scientists, are now bitching about how it’s too soon to loosen face masking and allowing people to unmask will be a disastrous decision.
Quite a few people seem to think this rule relaxation was done purely for political reasons. Many people have expressed that they believe unvaccinated “anti-maskers” will use this new guidance as a reason to flout the rules. So many people, who had once praised Dr. Fauci and the CDC, are now saying that the decision to relax the mask rules is a terrible, unscientific idea that spells DOOM for everyone. And, perhaps rightfully so, people are saying that people have no honor, and there will be no way to enforce people to keep taking precautions until they have been vaccinated. Fake vaccination cards are already becoming a problem, and the conspiracy theorists worry that the vaccines have chips in them that will invade their privacy (seriously?).
What happened to all of the respect for scientists? All of a sudden, because the rules have abruptly changed, just as they did last year, the scientists are wrong and simply pandering to politicians? And now, all of the people who, a couple of months ago, were liberally quoting and religiously following the scientists, are saying they are going to rely on their own common sense? Isn’t that the same behavior they were shaming the “anti-vaxxers” and “anti-maskers” for doing? Also, again, I notice that the “experts” all seem to be saying different things… which means that everybody has to decide for themselves which one is correct, and which course of action will suit them best. Sounds a lot like life, to me.
Here’s what I think about those so-called “anti-vaxxers” and “anti-maskers”. First off, many of those people never followed the rules anyway, so it’s doubtful that this rule change will affect them. I mean… if they get sick from COVID-19, they’ll get sick. Some won’t get very sick. Some will die. That’s how it’s been all year. Lots of people are commenting that, despite being vaccinated, they will keep wearing a mask so they “won’t be mistaken for a Republican” or “to make other people feel better”– that is, the ones who are comforted by the sight of someone whose face they can’t see fully. Others, who have children that can’t yet be vaccinated, are saying they are going to keep wearing a mask for that reason, even though last year so many people were saying that the masks are intended to protect other people, and not the wearer. Now they’re saying that the masks also protect the wearer, which is probably what they should have said from the beginning. But see? The information is constantly changing, isn’t it?
Personally, I don’t find seeing everyone in face masks comforting. They are a constant reminder of how fucked up things are, how lonely I am (especially when my half vaccinated husband has to travel on business for weeks on end), and how I don’t enjoy this lifestyle at all. That’s just how I feel about it, though… and the person who IS comforted by face masks also has a right to their feelings and opinions about this issue. Fortunately, it’s not like face masks have been outlawed, so they are free to keep doing what they’ve always been doing. Given how many people in the USA were completely uncooperative regarding COVID-19 safety mandates anyway, I don’t think much is going to change in the wake of this new guidance.
Sadly, what it will boil down to is money… and the fact that the safety rules are very expensive in terms of the economy. Lots of people cheer when they read stories about anti-maskers being arrested, fined, jailed, or banned from services like airlines. But all of those measures cost money. Banning someone from an airline for not wearing a face mask often doesn’t just mean that one person is banned– it also means their immediate family will be effectively banned, even if they weren’t officially so by their airline, as will any loyal extended family members and friends who happen to be on their side of the issue. That could add up to a lot of missed revenue that affects people other than the folks running the airlines… it also might affect hotels, restaurants, tour operators, taxi drivers, and even retailers that sell travel gear. If I wanted to, I could probably sit here for an hour and think of all of the people that are potentially affected when someone gets banned for life from flying.
Now… I do think some good can come out of this past year of COVID-19 hell. Perhaps employers will rethink some of their more destructive policies, like encouraging workers to come into an office setting when they’re sick. Maybe working from home will become an even more viable solution for companies, which could mean that more children are raised by their actual parents instead of at a day care. Maybe there will be less vehicular congestion and accompanying air pollution, too, since people can roll out of bed and walk ten feet to their “office” instead of sitting in traffic for hours every day. And maybe airlines will stop cramming people into seats like sardines… although I would be VERY surprised if that happens.
I do think wearing the mask is a good idea if one is sick. Judging by the slow cold and flu season, they are helpful in that regard. However… I don’t think the enforced mask fashion is a sustainable concept. I’m glad to see it going. I hope it stays gone, although I’m not going to hold my breath. Fortunately, thanks to the vaccine and staying the fuck away from people (which is really the best way to avoid getting sick from a virus), it’s still possible for me to hold my breath.
Back in 2004 or so, there was a show that used to air on ABC Family, or a similar network, that I used to watch on occasion. It was a “feel good” show called Home Delivery. The show’s formula was basically about people with hard luck stories having their dreams come true. The show featured several attractive hosts who would be there to present the fairy godmother treatment to the lucky person with a compelling sob story. I remember Home Delivery to be kind of an annoying and cloying show that appealed to hitting people in the feels. I would watch it because, frankly, I didn’t have anything better to do.
I remember one episode was about a young woman who had “severe appearance deficits”, as George Carlin might have joked. I don’t remember what the exact issues with her physical appearance were, but they were obvious and she dealt with a lot of mean behavior from others because of it. I think they may have been caused by a medical problem. In any case, I remember she loved the song “Don’t Laugh at Me” by country singer Mark Wills. I had never heard the song before I watched that episode, but I remembered Wills’ song, “I Do (Cherish You)” from a wedding at which I performed (not that song– it was played at the reception). Alas, the marriage didn’t last, and the bride has since wed twice more, though I did catch her bouquet and was married myself a couple of years later.
I am one of those folks people love to laugh at, which is probably why I have such a wicked looking resting bitch face. I’ve spent many years being ridiculed, particularly by so-called loved ones. I think that may be why I developed a sharp wit… or so people have told me, anyway. There was a time in my life when I wasn’t very quick with my words. I have an older sister who used to make me cry all the time because she would belittle me. This sister, like several others in my family, is also very witty and funny, although I think she has a tendency to be kind of mean. One time, when we were on somewhat good terms, I asked her how she got to be so quick with put downs. She told me that she’d learned from an early age to cut people down before they cut her down. It got to the point at which she would slay people with a clever barb before they knew what hit them.
I noticed that another one of my sisters also has this trait. She can be deadly with her words when she wants to be, although I don’t think she’s quite as quick witted as my other sister is. The eldest sister is above everything and not particularly funny… except for the rumor that she’s somehow morphed into a Trump supporter. I feel like she’s a victim of body snatchers! This sister, like me, was a Peace Corps Volunteer. She also has a doctorate in public health, speaks several languages, and was a ballerina for years. But she’s drunk the Republican Kool-Aid. I feel like we switched places. I used to be more conservative and she was more liberal. Now, the opposite is true. I blame my brother-in-law.
That song by Mark Wills popped into my head last night. I was reading a story about how over the past COVID-19 year, people have become extremely unruly on airplanes. I think I read that in the ten years prior to the pandemic, the FAA had dealt with some 1300 complaints total. And over the past year, with the new rules and face mask mandates, there’s been a lot of rebellion. According to that article, they’ve had 1300 complaints and counting– just since FEBRUARY.
As usual, commenters were all clamoring about how we should show no mercy to the rule flouters. Throw the book at them and toss ’em in jail! Zero tolerance! Let ’em rot with the child molesters and murderers! I understand the outrage and the sentiment, but I wish people would stop for a moment and think about what they’re suggesting.
I happen to believe that jail is an overrated punishment that is mostly ineffective at best. So I commented something along the lines of “Jail isn’t the best punishment for every crime.” That’s all I wrote. I didn’t write anything about not punishing offenders. I didn’t even express any sympathy for the rule breakers, although I can kind of understand why some of them cracked. I just wrote that I don’t think putting people in jail is the best way to handle the problem.
Do you know that at last count (because I quit looking), there were at least five laughing responses to my comment? I don’t know what was so funny about it. It was a simple statement, and like I said, it’s not like I expressed a wish for the misbehaving people not to be held accountable. I just think putting people in jail for every single offense is wrong-headed and does more harm than good, particularly in a pandemic. And, perhaps because I’m extremely irritable and stressed out right now, I lashed back at a few people who decided they needed to school me with lengthy diatribes about why we can’t let the rule breakers “run roughshod”.
The first response I got was a comment about how we should just execute people so they won’t reoffend. That response was stupid, and I said so (note– I didn’t “laugh” at the guy or call HIM stupid). The next two were from women who both kind of gave off an extremely shrill and neurotic vibe. I wanted to tell them to calm down and hear me out, rather than “laughing” at me and verbally vomiting the same tired script we’ve been hearing all year about how to deal with pandemic rule breakers.
To the first commenter, I wrote that I never said we should let the rule breakers go unpunished. I said that jail isn’t the most effective way to deal with people who break the rules. The lady had said the rule flouters would “learn a lesson”, but I think if she did her research about recidivism, she’d find that a lot of people who go to jail end up reoffending. Moreover, jail sentences don’t just affect the offender. They can have a bad effect on society as a whole. Locking up people costs money to taxpayers, and makes it more difficult for the offender to support themselves and their families. A jail experience can have a devastating psychological or even physical effect on a person… or it can have no effect at all. Again, plenty of people who do time end up going back to jail.
To the second one, whose fingers pretty much vomited out the same shrill diatribe as the first commenter’s, I wrote something along the lines of “Americans are much too wedded to the idea that we have to jail everyone who does something wrong. Consequently, we have many, many incarcerated people who are being guarded by folks who, frankly, often aren’t a lot better than they are.” Then I added that it seems to me that if controlling the pandemic is a concern, locking potentially unvaccinated people up in a crowded jail is not the best approach to fixing the problem. Then I added a comment about how it’s sad that people “laugh” at anyone who isn’t parroting the same crap in the comment sections rather than taking a moment to consider if what they’ve said makes any sense. I ended by wishing them all a good day. A couple of people “liked” that comment.
I don’t know… maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the vast majority of people aren’t thinkers. People have a knee jerk response to so many issues. Someone does something wrong? JAIL THEM! Lock ’em up and throw away the key! Let ’em ROT! To be sure, prisons and jails do serve a purpose. I think they are mostly valuable for keeping society safe from dangerous offenders, although some people who commit egregious, but non-violent, crimes probably should go to prison, too. But not everyone needs to be locked up to be taught a valuable lesson. Maybe it’s my time living in Europe that has made me feel this way, but I really do think Americans are way too enamored with the idea of throwing people away in barred warehouses. It’s sad, ineffective, and inhumane.
Empathy is a two way street. You can’t expect people to have empathy for your situation if your rabid response to them, and their concerns, is to simply lock them up and hope they rot in prison. Jail is not necessarily the best place for people to learn empathy… although I suppose it can and does happen sometimes.
Why are so many people freaking out now, because of the “strip of cloth” they are being asked to wear across their nose and mouth? Well… I think it’s because a lot of them are tired of being told that the “strip of cloth” is not a big deal. Clearly, it IS a big deal to a lot of people. Folks who would have never caused a problem on an airplane prior to the year 2020 are now acting crazy, rebelling, assaulting and cursing at flight attendants, and behaving completely out of character. I think it’s time that we acknowledged that forcing people to wear face masks for hours on end is a problem, and it’s not a sustainable practice. A more acceptable solution must be found and implemented, or these kinds of outbursts will continue. The FAA can keep fining and banning people for life from airplanes, and we can keep throwing the offenders in jail, but eventually that will cost the airline industry, and society as a whole, money that we can’t really afford to lose. Moreover, the job of enforcing the mask wearing will continue to suck and airlines will have trouble finding people to work on their planes.
I’ve found that trying to explain this concept to people is very difficult. I generally don’t try to do that in comment sections anymore, because people have become very rigid in their thinking. And they are quick to “laugh” at anyone who thinks or dares to say anything different. People will dismiss anyone who has empathy for the “anti-maskers” as crybabies, COVIDiots, spoiled brats, irresponsible and selfish, Trump supporters, or science deniers. Speaking only for myself, I can assure you that I’m none of those things. I got my first vaccine last week, and I wear the mask when I must. I will also confess that a year ago, I was afraid the masks were going to become permanent, but this year, my gut feeling is that most people plan to ditch them as soon as they can. That makes me feel somewhat better and more hopeful about the future.
Even Dr. Fauci has said that the masks could become less of a thing soon. He has said that as more people get vaccinated, we should become more liberal about indoor mask wearing. Some people may choose to wear them, and that should be perfectly fine, but the mandates forcing people to wear them will be lifted. Frankly, I believe that once that happens, the FAA will have far fewer issues with passengers attacking flight attendants on airplanes. Instead, they’ll just go back to attacking each other over reclining their seats and being too fat for economy class.
Of course… if someone gets on a plane and does something violent or genuinely puts people’s lives at risk by being disruptive, then yes; by all means, they probably should do some time behind bars. But I don’t think a “zero tolerance– straight to jail” policy is necessarily the best approach to handling every incident or altercation on an airplane. Because, as I mentioned earlier in this post, since February, the FAA has gotten over 1300 complaints about unruly passengers. We have a lot of jail and prison facilities in the United States, but at the rate people seem to want to lock people up, we’re sure to run out of space eventually.
Now… getting back to the title of this post– “don’t laugh at me”. Why was I so annoyed by the “laughing emojis”? Part of it is because, on the whole, I’m generally upset about life right now. But the laughing at me thing has been an issue my whole life. I’m the youngest of four by a lot of years, and my whole life, people have scoffed at me, laughed at me, underestimated me, not taken me seriously, and basically treated me like I’m stupid. Sometimes, I can use that perception to my advantage, but if I’m honest, it gets really old when people feel the need to resort to ridicule and insults. I’m tired of it, and have reached a point at which I’m not willing to tolerate it anymore.
There was a time when I was much more likely to take the blame in a situation in which someone mistreated me. Like, if someone chastised, ridiculed, or humiliated me, I would just feel shame and blame myself. But now that I’m older and wiser, I realize that anyone who resorts to making other people feel bad by being rude or mean to them is the one with the problem, especially if they are a perfect stranger.
Some months ago, a YouTube acquaintance/collaborator I had once respected “yelled” at me because I commented on his video in a way that he didn’t expect or appreciate. He had wanted me to simply praise his video. My comment was short, and had nothing to do with the music in his video, but was more about world events. He proceeded to go “off” on me publicly, lecturing me about the genius of Paul Simon (seriously?) and that I shouldn’t post anything on his videos that wasn’t strictly about the video or the music. I took that to mean that he only wanted positive feedback, which he would then reciprocate with a rubber stamp comment on my videos. Wow. Don’t do me any favors.
I didn’t realize that he’d had this policy. If I had, I probably wouldn’t have posted anything. Or maybe I would have just posted, “Nice job.” or something equally banal. I mistook him for a friend, though, so I didn’t simply praise him. I didn’t insult him, nor did I write anything that was extremely offensive. He’d played “American Tune” and my comment was that America wasn’t looking that great lately. My former acquaintance, who is from Scotland, took that to be a political comment, although I didn’t mention a word about politics. He ripped me a new one. I considered responding, but decided that this was the last straw in a disturbing trend. So I deleted my comment and unsubscribed from his channel. I also temporarily hid the recordings we’d done together and stopped featuring one of our duets, because I wanted to take a few days to process his response to me. They have since been restored. I figure if he wants me to take them down, he can ask.
Do you know what this guy did? He came to my channel and took the time to delete every single comment he’d ever left for me over a span of about seven or eight years. That just told me that my initial response to his public ass ripping comment was the right one. Obviously, he’s an asshole and not worth my time. He probably felt I should be grateful to him for sharing his “genius” with me on our collaborations, but actually, I feel grateful because his shitty behavior only prompted me to learn how to play guitar with more urgency. Because I don’t want to remain in a situation where I feel like I have to be nice to someone so they’ll do me a favor. The truth is, I’d overlooked some of his prior bad behavior because I enjoyed making our collaborations. We like similar music and our voices work well together. But he obviously doesn’t respect me and, I think, was either jealous or using me on some level. I should thank him, too, because last month I posted my first two videos in which I played guitar FOR MYSELF. 😀
This doesn’t mean that I think I’m better than he is, by the way. He is a more skilled musician than I am, by far. I think he’s the type of person who doesn’t want to share the credit. He’d suggest collaborations. We’d do them. I’d post them on my channel, but I noticed that he only posted ONE of our collaborations on his channel. And that collaboration got a lot of positive comments, which he brought up repeatedly in emails to me. I think if I had sucked, he wouldn’t have offered to do more collaborations. I think the truth is, we didn’t suck, but he didn’t want to share the wealth. For some reason, he felt perfectly fine in just publicly ripping on me. I didn’t retaliate by ripping on him in kind, because it was his channel and I respect his right to run it the way he wants (although he didn’t reciprocate in that instance, either). But I did vote with my feet. Obviously, my reaction to his public belittling hit a raw nerve for him to be so petty. I’m sure he’ll find someone else to sing with, while I continue to improve my guitar playing.
Last night, I asked my friends on Facebook if I was really “that funny”. It seems like everybody is laughing at me. A number of people responded. I was kind of surprised by that, since it was meant to be a general and rhetorical statement of irritation rather than a serious question. I was heartened to read some kind responses from people I think are real friends. Many of them are people I have known offline, but a couple are people who only know me from the Internet. I will say that those who took the question seriously are high value people worth my consideration and time. Those who just “laugh” at others… not so much. However, I reserve the right to laugh at people who still champion Donald Trump.
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