Ever since I passed the double-vax-plus-two-weeks milestone earlier this month, I’ve had trouble remembering to take a mask when I go out to a store or restaurant. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve gotten halfway across the parking lot before I shook my head, turned around, and went back to the car to get one.
I’m not complaining about still having to wear one in some establishments. As governmental mask mandates fall away, I still respect the right of business owners to require them, just as they do with shoes and shirts. Even if the potential customer in question is Ricky Schroeder. We’ll get to a point where the signs on the doors telling customers they must wear one to enter are removed en masse, but we’re not there yet. I’m willing to be patient, but I’m frustrated with myself for bounding out the car door so often without grabbing a mask from the console first.
After Friday’s announcement from the CDC that those of us who are vaccinated no longer have to wear masks outdoors or indoors (except in crowded venues), the question of how to know whether the other people you encounter have really gotten the shots — or are among the non-insubstantial number of Americans who refuse to do so — has become even more relevant. Unfortunately, hearing from some authority figures that we’ll just have to trust each other is not sufficient.
After the four years we’ve just been through, when the entire concept of trust was ripped apart by Trump and his cult members, I don’t depend on anyone I don’t know to tell the truth on this topic. How can I, when two-thirds of Republicans still don’t accept the truism that Joe Biden was legitimately elected president, and many of them still believe the COVID pandemic is a hoax?
Side note: whenever I see a poll showing a large percentage of GOPers still support Trump, I wonder if that percentage remains high because there’s been a dramatic drop in the raw number of those who identify as Republicans because they no longer buy into his bullshit. It’s easy to keep any group pure when you purge those who disagree with you ideologically (e.g. Liz Cheney).
Trust only works in a world where everyone agrees on a basic set of facts and rules. Even then, we have traffic lights at intersections because we can’t trust other drivers to slow down, stop, and be on the lookout for everyone else. If we didn’t have lane markings on highways, would you trust that operators of the other iron things traveling a mile a minute won’t bang into yours?
A couple of weeks ago, a guy was walking on the Lewis and Clark Trail a few miles from where I live when he was shot by a turkey hunter. Right up until that point, I’ll bet he trusted that whoever was out there with a gun could: a) tell the difference between a wild turkey and a human being; and b) not fire his weapon near a trail. But no.
We live in a country where, during the perceived gas shortage in the southeast last week, too many Americans got panicky, acting as if they’d never get another gallon, thus causing long lines and outages at some pumps. They’re probably the same geniuses who hoarded all the toilet paper last spring. And ate Tide detergent pods. And believed drinking bleach would keep them safe from the coronavirus.
It got to the point where the US Consumer Products Safety Commission had to tweet a warning, “Do not fill plastic bags with gasoline.”
Are you gonna trust those for whom such a reminder is even necessary?