Germany, mental health, modern problems, narcissists, YouTube

Is America really as crazy as it looks from over here?

I recently mentioned that I stumbled across a couple of “Karen” channels on YouTube. And, in spite of my disdain for the derogatory hijacking of the name, “Karen”, some of the videos I’ve seen are like train wrecks. I was especially shocked by the video below…

This video actually shows several incidents, but the one that disturbs me the most is the one captured in the still above. It starts at 8:17.

As I was watching this video yesterday, I literally shrank back against the headboard on my bed. I’m disturbed by the sheer vitriol and rage pouring out of these people. Yes, the woman captured above seems angrier than the guy she’s talking to, but both are extremely distressed. I’m surprised this didn’t become a violent confrontation. Below are a few screenshots.

We do have some angry people in Europe, and there have been some unfortunate incidents of violence and rage reported. But it seems so much worse in the United States, especially given how many people own weapons. In fact, as I was watching this, I felt distinctly uncomfortable. I imagined the other people in that neighborhood being forced to listen to, or actually witness in person, this rage filled argument that was filmed and put on YouTube.

Later, I called my mom and we both lamented how crazy things seem lately. I swear, America is not like it was when I was growing up. People are acting like maniacs. I’m sure much of it is due to our political situation and the terrible polarization that has occurred over the past few years. The pandemic, and all of the new rules and restrictions don’t help. People are very stressed out and worried, and it seems like some people feel like the world is about to end.

I really think a lot of this behavior is driven by the pandemic. People resent the rules and restrictions, and the “holier than thou” and “entitled” behaviors that are prompted in response to the pandemic. Some people seem to have a very hard time adapting, and it doesn’t help that there’s all this doom and gloom news. Several of the incidents captured in the above video are about the mask rules and people not wanting to adhere to them.

I watched a video by Dr. Ramani yesterday. It was about “narcissists and transportation rage”– people who are freaking out on airplanes or in airports. She seems to think that the people who act like this are narcissists. I’m sure a lot of them are narcissists, but the sheer volume of people who are acting like this is disturbing. Are they ALL narcissists? Or are they stressed and scared people who have completely lost their ability to cope?

I know that some people are entitled assholes no matter what. But is everyone who is wigging out lately really a narcissist? I think everyone has a limit, and recently, Americans seem to be proving that their tolerances for frustration and adversity are not as high as they should be. On the other hand, life was pretty difficult even before the pandemic.

I remember having to work several part time jobs with no benefits just to get my bills paid. I remember being scared of the day when I couldn’t meet my own financial demands. I don’t even have children to worry about. Consider that so many people my age are dealing with their aging parents and children in college, or maybe they waited until later to have children and had one with “special needs” of some sort.

Those are stressful conditions under normal circumstances. Add in the pandemic and the hassles and fears associated with it, as well as inflation, lack of affordable housing, and the inability to take a vacation without being constantly reminded of the pandemic. Add in the challenges of taking care of younger children when schools close or go to distance learning, while meanwhile, your parents have dementia or require help taking care of their needs. Sometimes people just freak out because it all becomes too much. And then they get filmed and put on YouTube, where people mock them.

In some of these videos, both parties are acting atrociously. It’s obvious some of these people are fed up and stressed out, but some seem to be permanently unhinged and uncivilized.

I realize I am very lucky on so many levels. From where I sit, Germany is not nearly as chaotic as the US is right now. People are sick of the pandemic here, and there’s definitely some grumpiness. But I haven’t seen or heard of nearly as many people losing their shit as I have in the United States. Of course, in Germany, filming people and putting them online can lead to legal problems in a heartbeat. As a general rule, Germans are big on privacy.

My mom is 83 years old and still is pretty good health. She has enough money to take care of her needs, at least at this point. She is happy living alone, although she did say that she is probably going to move closer to my sister in North Carolina within the next year or so. But that’s mainly because the assisted living apartment where she’s lived since 2009 is getting too expensive. There’s another complex near Chapel Hill, where my sister lives, that is less pricey. She said she has to wait for someone to die before she moves. Apparently, there’s a long waiting list.

I know I need to watch some different videos on YouTube to change the algorithms of what ends up on my suggested videos list. I also need to change the algorithms on Facebook. Somehow, I get posts from Reddit Ridiculousness, where people share AITA (Am I The Asshole) posts. These posts usually consist of stories about people in certain situations that cause discomfort and questions about whether or not someone’s behavior ventures into “asshole” territory.

I will admit, some of the stories are pretty entertaining and/or interesting. But it’s hard to gauge whether or not someone is an asshole based only on an Internet anecdote, because you can only judge them by objective standards and whatever details they include in their stories. Not everyone has a way with words, so it can be difficult to get an accurate picture of a situation. You also have different personalities that come into play. Some people are better than others at hiding who they are, and some people have abrasive personalities, but aren’t necessarily assholes.

I know this, because many people assume I’m an asshole because of my many ventings about Ex. They assume she’s a “normal” person. I’m gratified, though, because now younger daughter talks to Bill and confirms that we aren’t the crazy ones. Aside from that, I’ve shared some of Ex’s public postings with a couple of friends, both of whom have expressed shock and dismay. If you don’t know her backstory, you’d never know that a lot of what she posts is a facade to try to look good. But then she’ll slip some things in that don’t go unnoticed by the astute. Like, for instance, her constant thinly veiled Twitter attempts to wangle money from celebrities.

Anyway… it’s been bizarre to sit over here and watch some of this stuff from afar. I am an American, but some of these videos make me feel kind of ashamed of that fact. I love my country, and I know that our people are capable of great things. But lately, it’s like everybody has gone off the deep end. And yes, it does seem worse there than it is here… although I did get flipped off in Austria a couple of months ago by a guy on a bike. I think the guy meant to flip off Bill, who was driving at the time, but I got the full brunt of his middle finger. I will admit that my instinct was to respond in kind. So I guess there is that. I probably wouldn’t have done that in Germany, though. Flipping people off, especially in traffic, is against the law. Why? Because finger gestures almost always make things worse and escalate situations that don’t need to be escalated. So does yelling, preaching, shaming, and flying off the handle. I feel like people all over the whole world, but especially people in the United States, need to take a deep breath.

Standard
condescending twatbags, narcissists, stupid people, videos, YouTube

The “Karen” channels: monetizing bad behavior on YouTube…

Yesterday, I got my third COVID shot. My arm is a little sore today. It was very sore yesterday, so this is an improvement. The sore arm is really the only side effect I’ve had, other than being a little chilled yesterday. I’m not sure if that was a result of the vaccine or a cold house. We turned up the heat and I felt better. My third shot, like the first two, was a Moderna vaccine. I wrote about the whole sordid experience on the travel blog yesterday. The one thing I learned is that the COVID lifestyle seems to have eroded my social skills.

After my vaccination “ordeal”, I came home and got in bed, which had nice, fresh sheets, then watched a couple of videos by my favorite YouTubers… and somehow, I ended up on a channel called Xenoshot. This channel features videos about people behaving badly in public. The guy who narrates the videos sounds like he’s channeling Donald Trump, complete with a disinterested, snarky, kind of snooty quality to his voice. To be honest, that vocal quality kind of turned me off, mainly because I think Donald Trump is the ultimate “Karen”.

I will admit, however, that a few of his videos are kind of interesting and entertaining… Like, for instance, the one below. I was especially glad to see it was about a man– I guess the male “Karens” are called “Kevins”. I have not made it a secret that I don’t like the trend of hijacking perfectly good given names to describe bad behavior. But I can’t deny that the woman in the below video got herself hooked up with a pretty terrible asshole. I would call him an asshole, though, not a “Kevin”.

She’s a pretty woman… she doesn’t need to give this guy another chance. What a psycho. He even got his mom to call.

I have noticed that most of this guy’s videos feature obnoxious women behaving badly. Below is one of the first videos I happened to see when it came on autoplay.

Actually, this makes me glad I’m not in the States. I think this behavior happens more often there than here.

The video below brought back flashbacks of my childhood in Virginia… not so much because of the yelling, but because of what the woman is wearing. Ugh… what a nightmarish situation. I would hate to have to live next to someone who acts like this. I don’t like neighbor (or landlady) drama.

This makes me want to move out to the woods. This one includes a lot of profanity.

Xenoshot’s channel led to other channels with similar content. I was suddenly reminded of my Italian friend Vittorio’s many frequent comments about the “weird-o-rama” culture in the United States. I’m sure that a lot of Germans would find this content amusing, but I can’t imagine a lot of people here acting like this here. For one thing, you can get in a lot of trouble filming or photographing people without their consent here.

And finally, there’s this lady, who called the cops because she didn’t like her son’s haircut. I like the barber, though. He seems like a nice guy. I got a kick out of his dialect. He sounds straight out of the northeast.

I can’t listen to too many of Xenoshot’s videos, mainly because his deadpan delivery is a turnoff. But, so is the channel’s content, which reminds me of just how out of control some people are in the United States. It also reminds me of how out of touch I’ve become with my own culture.

Seriously… I remember being in Europe the first time and feeling offended when Vittorio would comment on how strange the United States is. Now that I’ve been in Europe for seven years, I can totally understand how he came to that conclusion. And just to put things in perspective, Vittorio is a naturalized American and lived there for about 25 years. He moved back to Europe some time ago and married a German woman. I say, good on him for doing that. To be sure, Europe has its problems, but I can definitely relate to those who think the USA has a very odd culture compared to the rest of the world. It’s like a non-stop shit show.

I know for a fact that there are “Karen” types in Germany… even though I would never call them “Karens”. However, this is not behavior I see very often anymore. It actually makes a me a little scared of the prospect of moving back home someday.

So I think I’ll go mine for more mindless YouTube content…

Incidentally, I read that Jenna Ryan– Karen extraordinaire at last year’s insurrection– turned herself in to prison in Bryan, Texas on December 21, 2021. She’s already done a little over two weeks of her two month sentence. But she couldn’t enter prison without making a ridiculous comment comparing the treatment of “rioters” to treatment of Jews in Germany (I’m assuming during the 1940s). She whined:

“They’re making fun of my skin color. They’re calling me an ‘insurrection Barbie,’” she said.

“They have no idea who I am as a person, what my beliefs are, what I’ve been through, who I am,” she added. “They see me as a one-dimensional caricature. They don’t see me as a human.” 

“And so, that is the epitome of a scapegoat. Just like they did that to the Jews in Germany. Those were scapegoats. And I believe that people who are Caucasian are being turned into evil in front of the media.”

Are you serious, Jenna? Really?!

I’m all for trying to keep things in perspective when it comes to how the media spins a story. I am definitely against “mob mentality”. I don’t like “cancel culture”, and I totally believe that people should be allowed to redeem themselves. But Jenna repeatedly says and does ridiculous things, and justifies her very bad behavior. She is a very obvious narcissist, and narcissists are not good people.

What a dumbass.

I remember when Jenna Ryan made the news last year. She was promoting herself and her business very openly, as she also openly broke the law. And she and thousands of her Trump supporting “friends” did their best to overthrow the 2020 election results. Donald Trump LOST the election. He deserved to lose. And Jenna and her ilk had absolutely NO right to go against the will of the majority to try to keep him in office. She deserves to be in prison for what she did. It was a bad choice, and she should stop justifying her bad decision and the consequences that came out of it.

Comparing her situation to anything resembling what Jewish people in Europe faced 80 years ago is beyond ludicrous. Liberals haven’t been violently rounding up conservative voters and jailing or imprisoning them, simply for who they were, or their political or religious beliefs. They have been arrested and, in some cases, incarcerated, because they broke laws and put people in danger. And then I think back to what she said during her “two minutes” in the Capitol…

“You guys, will you believe this?” Ryan said on Facebook Live while inside the Capitol, according to the sentencing memo. “I am not messing around. When I come to sell your house, this is what I will do. I will fucking sell your house.”

Does this sound like someone who believes deeply in preserving the Constitution and maintaining the integrity of the election system? It doesn’t to me. Sounds like someone trying to make some money… and maybe a name for herself. She succeeded in making a name for herself, at least.

And then, according to NBC News:

On the Capitol steps, she declared that she was “tired of paying taxes” to “crooks,” prosecutors said in the memo. But she has not consistently paid her taxes over the years, according to the memo, and at the time owed $35,000 in back taxes. (She settled her debt in April.)

That doesn’t not even remotely sound like someone who cares about being a law abiding citizen. She’s just upset because she’s being held accountable and, rightly, is stuck in the federal jug for a few more weeks. She’s at a minimum security facility, too.

Was getting this photo worth it?

I won’t be surprised if Jenna doesn’t try to profit off her prison experience. She’ll probably write a book or something. People like her have no shame whatsoever. I’m sure she’s not 100 percent terrible. Few people are that awful. But I will say that in the year since I’ve “known” her name, she has shown incredibly bad behavior, extreme entitlement, some shockingly poor judgment and immense self-absorption. I truly hope she learns from her prison stint, but I have very slim expectations.

Anyway… I’m grateful that I don’t feel too poorly today. I usually vacuum on Thursdays, but I think I might wait until Saturday, which is when I plan to take down the Christmas trees. That will be messy, and I will need to get the vacuum out anyway, since the process of taking the trees down always results in dropped “needles” everywhere. And since vacuuming is basically a waste of time, I might as well save up my energy. Also, my arm does hurt a bit. Not a lot, mind you… and not as much as it did yesterday, but it is pretty sore. So I think I’ll fuck off and move on with the day. By tomorrow, I expect to be back to my old curmudgeonly self.

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communication, law, Police, travel

Damned if you do… damned if you don’t…

I still have a ton of travel blogging to do, and I’ll be getting to that in a little while. First, I want to write about a situation I read about this morning.

Last month, white mom, Mary MacCarthy, was traveling with her ten year old biracial daughter, Moira. They were on their way to a funeral in Denver, Colorado. Ms. MacCarthy’s brother died suddenly in October, so MacCarthy had to take a last minute flight from her home in California. MacCarthy is a single mom, and her brother was like a father to Moira. The girl was crying when she was boarding the flight, and the two were initially not able to sit together. MacCarthy asked other passengers if someone would be willing to move so that she and her daughter could be next to each other.

Another passenger was kind enough to oblige, and the pair arrived safely in Denver, where they were met on the jet bridge by a couple of Denver police officers. MacCarthy was shocked to be confronted by the cops. She worried that they were there to deliver more bad news. But, it turned out that they wanted to talk to her because someone had called them, suspicious about their behavior. Moira had been crying because her uncle died. Then, afterwards, she was confronted by the police, and terrified because of all of the news coverage about people of color being abused or even killed by the police.

After talking to MacCarthy and her daughter, Denver police cleared them of any wrongdoing, and they were free to go. MacCarthy recorded the incident on her phone. The initial police report indicated that a Southwest flight attendant had reported the duo for “suspicious behavior”.

Two weeks later, MacCarthy got a phone call from the Denver Police Human Trafficking unit. The caller said the unit was following up on MacCarthy’s case. It was only then that MacCarthy realized she had been suspected of human trafficking.

MacCarthy sent an email to Southwest Airlines about this incident and, she says, so far they have not apologized. Instead, she claims she has only received two brief automated responses. MacCarthy has retained an attorney and is accusing Southwest Airlines of “racial profiling”. She now wants “a written apology from the airline, immediate reimbursement of the full price of their tickets, and “additional compensation to account for the trauma imposed on an innocent family, and especially on a grieving ten year-old Black girl.”

Southwest Airlines has said it’s “disheartened” by MacCarthy’s story of the events and has “plans to reach out to her.” In a statement to CNN, Southwest Airlines spokesperson Dan Landson said:

“We are conducting a review of the situation internally, and we will be reaching out to the Customer to address her concerns and offer our apologies for her experience traveling with us. Our Employees undergo robust training on Human Trafficking. Above all, Southwest Airlines prides itself on providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for the millions of Customers who travel with us each year,”

I can’t blame Mary MacCarthy and her daughter for being very upset and traumatized by what happened to them last month. On the other hand, I also have some empathy for the flight attendant who called the police. It sounds like the flight attendant was following protocol based on training. And while it’s certainly possible that the call was based on the flight attendant’s racial biases, I can’t conclude for certain that it was, based on the information I’ve read about this case so far.

Just yesterday, I read another story about a sixteen year old girl who was abducted by a 61 year old man. The girl had seen a hand gesture on Tik Tok called the Signal for Help. She used it while riding in the car with her kidnapper, hoping someone in another car would notice her signal of distress. Fortunately, someone did notice, and called 911. The motorist who made the emergency call also stayed behind the car and updated the police to the kidnapper’s location. That’s how the Laurel County sheriff’s department in Kentucky managed to arrest James Herbert Brick and bring the teenager he’d abducted to safety.

Brick has been charged with two felonies: unlawful imprisonment and possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor. He was locked up in the Laurel County Correctional Center in London, Ky., on a $10,000 bond.

In both of these scenarios, people saw something and said something, which is the advice often given to those who are concerned about something that is amiss. I’ve heard that advice given in situations involving potential crimes, as well as in situations that involve potential medical issues. Yes, it’s possible that a person is making much ado about nothing, but, as they say, “better safe than sorry”, especially when children are involved.

My heart goes out to Mary MacCarthy and Moira. They were already upset and anxious on that flight to Denver, given the terrible and sudden loss of MacCarthy’s brother, who was only 46 years old. Ms. MacCarthy also says that Moira is only ten, but she looks much older than ten. And it’s almost always scary to be confronted by the police, particularly in this era during which Black people have been injured or killed by American cops.

But… unfortunately, there are people out there who traffic children. Not all traffickers are scary looking men. Sometimes women are involved with trafficking children, and they get away with it, because they don’t fit the stereotypical profile of a trafficker. And flight attendants are trained to look for the signs of people who might be harming children. The flight attendant who called the police reported that Ms. MacCarthy and Moira were among the last to board the flight and the last to buy tickets. And they didn’t speak during the flight. Of course, the flight attendant had no way of knowing the circumstances of why the duo were behaving as they were, and she had many other passengers to look after on the flight. It might not have been possible for her to find out more about the situation before she made her judgment call.

It seems to me that Ms. MacCarthy is legitimately upset because she’s offended. I don’t blame her for being offended. But I would also hate to see people being discouraged from calling for help when they see something that doesn’t look right. I understand that calling the police on matters involving people of color can lead to tragic consequences. It shouldn’t be that way, though. People should feel free to call for help if they think help is needed. And I think in this case, the flight attendant was obviously concerned and felt that the situation merited calling the police. It turned out that she was wrong, but what if she hadn’t been wrong?

Over the past couple of days, I’ve noticed several people hitting a post I wrote earlier this year about how the “Karen” stigma can actually be deadly. That post was about a column I read in The Atlantic magazine, about a woman who was concerned that her pharmacy wasn’t requiring people to wear face masks at the drive in pickup station. But she didn’t want to be a “Karen”, so she didn’t say anything about it.

That post was written in late January of this year, before a lot of people had been vaccinated against COVID-19. The incident the article it was based on occurred even earlier than that. The point I made in that post is that being overly concerned about being labeled a “Karen” or a “BBQ Becky” or “Permit Patty” could actually cause harm to people. If there is a situation that is potentially dangerous, a person should feel okay about asking for help from people who have the ability to investigate. In a perfect world, making such a call would be perfectly safe, and would not result in someone being hurt, killed, or even humiliated.

Ms. MacCarthy assumes that she and her daughter were questioned because they don’t look alike. And it’s possible that racism played a part in the reason the flight attendant noticed them and called the cops. On the other hand, it’s also possible that the flight attendant was legitimately concerned and believed the duo were throwing up major red flags. The end result was that Mary MacCarthy and her daughter were cleared and allowed to go on their way. Yes, it was traumatic, embarrassing, and scary, but in the end, no one was hurt or killed, and no one actually was being trafficked. Those are good things, even if Southwest Airlines hasn’t apologized for the mistake.

For the record, yes, I do think the airline owes Ms. MacCarthy and her daughter a sincere apology. I’m sure that Southwest Airlines will eventually settle with Ms. MacCarthy. Hopefully, the settlement will be appropriate and make the situation less horrifying for MacCarthy and her daughter. According to NBC news:

“At this point they can speak with my attorneys,” MacCarthy said.

She says it’s about more than an apology.

“I travel with my daughter’s birth certificate because I’m ready to answer any questions if necessary,” she said. “The fact that we’re mother and daughter, the fact that I’m a single parent traveling with my daughter. It’s the right of TSA to ask those questions, I’m open to that. But the way this was handled was so unprofessional.

“I will do whatever it takes to speak out against the type of ignorant behavior and policies that lead to families being treated this way.”

I think people involved with serving and protecting the public have a tough and often thankless job. But I also think that these kinds of situations, where an offended person pursues legal remedies against those who act out of caution– especially when it involves children— could have a chilling effect that might lead to more children being harmed or killed. If someone sees something that raises a red flag, but they decide not to act because of the danger of being sued or even just being called a “Karen”, there could be even more tragedies. I’m sure the young lady who gave the Signal for Help while being driven through multiple states with her 61 year old captor is happy that someone acted and called the police.

But… in Mary MacCarthy’s defense, I also think that once the Denver Police cleared her and her daughter, that should have been the end of it. The human trafficking department should not have called her to “follow up”. I think if that hadn’t have happened, this story would have a different trajectory. And I do believe her when she says that Moira is traumatized by what happened.

I hope someday, the police situation in the United States will be overhauled, so that officers can actually be thought of as good people to call for help, rather than just threatening and potentially deadly. It probably won’t happen in my lifetime. And… on another note, flying has gotten to be pretty terrible these days. Stories like these make me want to avoid flying even more than ever.

Standard
complaints, expressions, healthcare

That “Karen” stigma can actually be dangerous…

Good mornin’ y’all… it’s another day here in COVID-19 paradise. As much as I would like to escape the reality of the virus, it’s pretty much impossible if you read the news. And as you know, I read the news a lot.

I did play Sims 4 yesterday. It was the first time in months. I laugh at myself now, because when I lived in Germany the first time, from 07-09, I used to waste hours playing Sims 2. It kind of makes me sick to think about it, especially since those were the heady days before the COVID-19 plague hit us. I should have been out enjoying Europe instead of living in a fantasy world. In those days, I also wasn’t on social media and was spared a lot of drama… I also didn’t blog back then. Hmm… maybe it’s time I delved back into Sims life.

Anyway, on with today’s topic. I was going to write about how COVID-19 is starting to remind me of a bizarre BDSM themed novel. I was inspired by that thought when I read about how people in China are now getting their anuses forcibly swabbed to test for COVID-19. I first learned about this new phenomenon when one of Bill’s very right wing friends mentioned it. He heard about it on the radio, but now the news is making the rounds. Apparently, the virus lives longer in the anus than the respiratory tract, so anal swabbing for the common good is becoming a thing. Isn’t that just typical? COVID-19 is a pain in the ass… literally!

But think about it… we have lockdowns, extended isolation, forced face masks, which some people think look like gags, wristbands that monitor one’s movements to make sure they quarantine, and the overall stern attitude and tendency to lecture others that many people have adopted. It is a little kinky, particularly if you’re also in a car, wearing a seatbelt. And now, we have anal swabbing too? Not to mention all the latex gloves… and if you’ve spent any time around kinky people, you know that latex is a very popular thing in certain circles. I sure hope no one invents a COVID-19 PPE suit made of latex. When you’re as fluffy as I am, latex is not your friend. I’ll bet some people have gotten spankings over not properly masking, too. In fact, I bet someone’s written a dirty story or made a porn video about it.

I could go on about the BDSMification of COVID-19. In fact, I could probably have a lot of fun with that topic. But I’m not going to go any further with that right now, which I’m sure will disappoint the many secretly kinky readers among us (seriously, I get tons of hits on my posts about kinky stuff- especially the naked spas– even got one from Baghdad today). Instead, I want to trot out one of my tired old topics… that much maligned insult, “Karen”.

I have repeatedly written about how much I despise the trend of hijacking people’s names and turning them into pejoratives. I have even been bold enough to state it out loud a few times. I often get a bunch of shit from other people, who think it’s their right to use perfectly good first names that were popular years ago to insult others. As I wrote yesterday, a lot of people refuse to think beyond the box, so they won’t consider why calling someone a “Karen” could be a really bad thing. They will simply insist that the “Karen” pejorative is here to stay and it’s their right to use it instead of coming up with something more original and clever on their own. And the end result is that now, lots of people live in fear of being labeled a “Karen”, which in the era of COVID-19 can be a deadly mistake.

Consider today’s article from Dr. James Hamblin, a medical doctor who is also a staff writer for The Atlantic. Besides being a physician, Hamblin is also a public health lecturer for Yale University’s School of Public Health. I ran across his advice column this morning as I was drinking my coffee. It was about a letter he got from a woman from Georgia with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis. She writes that the lady who runs the drive in pharmacy where she picks up her medications refuses to wear a mask properly. She wants to say something to the technician, but doesn’t want to be labeled a “Karen”. She asks how she should confront this situation.

Dr. Hamblin’s response is a bit long-winded… and, in fact, annoyed me quite a bit. He writes about how masks are supposed to be a show of empathy and unity, as well as acting as a medical device. Personally, I’ve about had it with people who want to preach about empathy and unity when it comes to wearing face masks. Given what happened at our Capitol a couple of weeks ago, I think promoting mask wearing as a way of showing people how “nice” you are is kind of misguided and pathetic. I’m sure a lot of the maskless people who stormed the Capitol are perfectly nice folks when they aren’t breaking the law for Donald Trump. I really mean that. There’s no telling what gets someone so upset that they decide to storm the Capitol. Some of the protestors were clearly bad actors, but a lot of them were probably normal folks who were simply misguided and misinformed. Many Trump fans truly are basically good people. Conversely, there are lots of liberals who are legitimate jerks. Believe me; I’ve met them. I disagree with the idea that whether or not a person is wearing a mask is a direct measure of their quality as a person, and I refuse to get on that particular bandwagon.

I think people should simply wear masks to slow the spread of the disease. I prefer to leave the preachy platitudes and moral judgments about them out of it. A person can be a perfect asshole and yet wear a face mask without complaint. Or, a person can be sweet, generous, and loving, and not want to wear a mask for whatever reason. I don’t see it as having much to do with the type of person someone is… it’s just something we’re doing for now, and I can definitely do without the lectures on morality or assumptions about a person’s character. As long as the person complies with the rules, what difference does it make? And if they don’t comply, I’m more likely to just get the hell away from them, if I can.

I took a look at the Facebook comments on this post, and ran across several responses from people who do NOT want to be called “Karens” and, in fact, are so afraid of being labeled as such that they don’t say or do anything when someone is breaking the rules. I’m going to be honest and say that there are times when I don’t mind speaking up when something isn’t right. There are other times when I don’t bother. Scratch that. There are MANY times when I don’t bother. Confronting people is often exhausting and futile at best, and in the United States, it can actually be very dangerous. You never know who’s unhinged and packing heat or looking for a fight.

One woman wrote that last summer, she’d politely asked someone at the grocery store to pull up her mask so she could get around her. She claimed that at the time, she had been taking care of her father, who was then very ill and, in fact, recently passed away of Parkinson’s Disease. But, the commenter wrote that instead of politely pulling up her mask and letting the commenter get around her, the maskless woman then went ballistic and complained about her to the store manager. She claims that the maskless woman “told a bunch of lies”. The manager then called the police, who confronted the commenter as she was trying to drive away. Now, the commenter laments, her name is permanently logged on a police record, all because she’d decided to speak up at the grocery store. And, to add insult to injury, the police officer who approached her also wasn’t masked. It would seem to me that this story is one that might discourage someone from being confrontational about masks.

Lots of people were telling this lady to “lawyer up”. I thought that was funny, since people don’t seem to realize that lawyers cost lots of money, and unless there is money to be made, suing someone is a lot of stress and expense for, perhaps, not the greatest payoff. I will admit that it was satisfying for us to sue our ex landlady. She blatantly ripped us off and needed a knot jerked in her, because I suspect she’s done it to other people. But Germany’s legal system is more reasonably priced than America’s is, and you can get legal insurance here to defray the cost (although it’s still expensive). Also, I have my doubts that the commenter’s account may not have been entirely truthful. Let’s face it. When someone relates a story, it’s often embellished to put the storyteller in the best light. The situation she described made it sound like she was the only rational one involved. Maybe it happened exactly the way she reports it, but I have my doubts.

There were a lot of other responses from people who wrote that confronting people over mask wearing is not really “Karen” behavior. And I would tend to agree with that. However, enough people obviously think of being confrontational in any situation as being entitled and annoying– in short, being a “Karen”. The definition of a “Karen” is a middle-aged, usually white woman who is overly demanding and complains a lot. And given how polarized people are over face masks, and the fact that many Americans, as a whole, don’t like to be confrontational or considered high maintenance, the threat of being labeled a “Karen” could deter them from doing the “right” thing. What you consider the “right” thing to do, in this situation, depends on who you are.

It’s true that hanging around someone who isn’t masked could potentially be very dangerous, so it’s not unreasonable to speak up. On the other hand, I can also understand why many people would prefer not to. No one wants to end up on the news or YouTube for a situation like that. And even if some people don’t think speaking up about improperly worn face masks is stepping into “Karen” territory, not everyone will agree that it isn’t. Some people would prefer to avoid the temporary drama, potentially at their own peril.

I mentioned a couple of paragraphs back that in this situation, I think I would simply find a new pharmacy, or barring that, I would get my meds through the mail. Since I have Tricare insurance, getting regularly dispensed meds by mail is probably the way I’d get them regardless. It’s cheaper, and the military/government prefers to do it that way. I might, or might not, send a letter or email to the pharmacy explaining why I moved my business elsewhere. The reason I wouldn’t automatically do it is because the pandemic has been going on now for about a year and if people haven’t gotten the message about masks yet, a complaint from me probably won’t make that much of a difference. The original letter writer for The Atlantic’s article mentioned that she lived in a small town in Georgia. It does occur to me that maybe there aren’t other pharmacies. Or maybe no one in that town cares about masks. Either way, if the pharmacy tech hasn’t yet been confronted by her boss, there’s a good chance that complaining probably won’t change her behavior.

I have never used a drive in pharmacy myself. Are they like drive in tellers? If so, is the technician even in direct contact with anyone? Wouldn’t you be staying in your vehicle anyway? Is it like getting food from a fast food place? Or is it more like making a deposit at a bank? If it’s like getting food, I could see why not wearing a mask is problematic. If it’s like going to the bank, it would seem like it’s less so, since banks have drawers and/or canisters that they put the stuff into.

I agree, wearing a mask is the right thing to do in a healthcare setting, to include pharmacies, where you would be coming into contact with sick people. But it seems to me that a technician alone in a room dispensing medications maskless might be less risky than working the desk in a store, where people are coming up to pay and pick up their prescriptions perhaps without benefit of a window. I don’t know. I mean, yes, the germs can aerosol into the air and land on things, but that’s probably happening anyway.

However, I also know that many people feel better when they see others properly wearing a face mask. And conversely, many people hate the fucking things and are creeped out by them. I would imagine that in Georgia, more people are creeped out by them than not. I base that on having lived in somewhat rural Georgia for a relatively short spell. Nice people, but they don’t want to be told what to do. I can’t blame them for that, even though I’m smart enough to know that the fucking plague isn’t going to go away if we just ignore it. Personally, my solution is just to avoid people as much as possible, but I know not everyone can do that.

Anyway… this post has gone on long enough. I’m rambling like Dr. Hamblin. I’ll close by saying that I’m happy to be weathering this particular storm in Germany, where people are more sensible and there are fewer guns. And no one calls anyone “Karen” unless it’s their name… Fun fact, in Armenia, almost all Karens are men. Know why? Because in Armenia, Karen (pronounced Car-en) is a masculine name. Now you’ve learned something new and useful! Have a great day, and try to avoid being anal swabbed!

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politics

Remember John Edwards?

Yesterday, as Bill and I were enjoying our Veteran’s Day celebration at home, I had a random thought about former 2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards. Edwards was also Democratic nominee John Kerry’s running mate for Vice President in 2004. He was also a former senator in North Carolina. I remember thinking he was a very handsome man. He seemed to have a lot going for him besides his looks, too.

John Edwards had four children in his marriage to his wife, Elizabeth. There was Wade, who was born in 1979 and tragically died in a car accident in 1996. Daughter Cate was born in 1982, then came Emma Claire in 1998 and son, Jack, in 2000. Tragically, the children’s mother, the former Elizabeth Anania, had breast cancer and it killed her in 2010, when she was 61 years old. While Elizabeth was dying of cancer, John Edwards was having an affair with a woman named Rielle Hunter. And with Hunter, Edwards fathered another daughter named Frances Quinn Hunter, who was born in 2008.

For years, Edwards denied having an affair with Hunter, a former campaign worker. He denied that he was the father of Frances for two years, before finally admitting it in 2010. Elizabeth Edwards published a book in June of that year entitled Resilience. In the book, she never mentions Rielle Hunter by name, but refers to her as “pathetic” and a “parasitic groupie”. When John Edwards finally admitted that he’d been sleeping around, Elizabeth separated from him. She intended to divorce him after the one year waiting period required in North Carolina, but died before the time was up. She and John were still legally married when she finally passed away of metastatic breast cancer in December 2010.

John Edwards’ political career was left in a shambles after this affair was made public. It wasn’t just that he’d been unfaithful to his seemingly loyal wife. He was also accused of fraud. Edwards supposedly used over $1 million in campaign contributions to cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter. A few years later, Edwards was found not guilty on at least one the fraud charges and mistrials were declared against the others, but the damage had already been done. Edwards hasn’t been back on the political scene. Instead, he’s gone back to being a lawyer. His daughter Cate is now the managing attorney of the San Diego office of his Raleigh based law firm, Edwards Kirby, which, I believe, specializes in malpractice suits.

Why am I bringing up John Edwards today? Because, for some reason, his story popped into my head yesterday. For several years, he was a political golden boy who seemed to have everything going for him. He had an affair, which is not uncommon among people who work in very challenging, powerful positions. The affair, along with the alleged fraud, eventually ruined his career in politics.

And yet, here we have an obvious scumbag like Donald Trump, who has a long history of extramarital affairs and fraud attached to him, and half the U.S. population wants to see him continue his destructive presidential reign. Why was John Edwards so quickly tossed out of the political arena, his reputation effectively ruined, but Donald Trump is still a hero to so many?

I think about John Edwards and, while I would not condone his actions, I think he is a lot more decent than Trump has ever been. He’s certainly better looking, anyway. Maybe he doesn’t have Trump’s charisma, although over half of us in the United States and probably many more people beyond have found that his charm has worn off entirely. It’s amazing what was unacceptable in 2010 that is apparently okay in 2020.

Also… I think of all of the ordinary people who have been “canceled” on social media just for being shitty. Ordinary people who get caught on video being bad for a few minutes can wind up getting death threats, losing their jobs, and being publicly shamed to the point of wanting to commit suicide. And yet we tolerate a president who has mocked disabled people, bragged about grabbing women by the genitals, and has a long history of ripping people off and bullying them into letting him steal from them. Why are so many people willing to give Trump a pass for being the bastard he so obviously is, but more ordinary people wind up “ruined”, at least temporarily, for being caught on video being a “Karen” (a term that needs to die quickly)?

The mind boggles. Well… another day has passed, bringing us closer to January 20. Although I don’t look forward to the drama yet to come as the day draws closer, I am relieved that Biden won. And he did win, y’all. There was no fraud on his part. If anyone was acting unfairly, it was Trump. He and his cronies pulled all sorts of devious and illegal shit to ensure that he wouldn’t lose the White House. And, guess what– he lost anyway, didn’t he?

I can’t wait until he’s gone. It’s been four years of non-stop circus show theatrics coupled with soul crushing embarrassment and moral degradation. It made me rather sick to see Trump honoring veterans yesterday, saluting when he’s not a fucking veteran and can’t claim one tenth of the honor any basic servicemember has. He needs to go.

In other news… aside from losing his father a few days ago, Bill also lost a great aunt yesterday. He didn’t know her well. She was in her 90s and had Alzheimer’s Disease. I have heard stories about her. I hope she’s resting in peace, too.

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