In the checkout line at Fry’s a beliigerent maskhole behind me was going on about baby juice in the vaccine and how we were all fools. I just glared.
He said “look at you,” meaning an older gentleman behind me wearing a mask. He said ‘what kind of a man wears a mask?” He said a man not infected with Covid. He said to remove it. He told him mind your f—— business.
As I turned my head to unload my groceries he ripped the mask off of his face, which does not take much force as it is a simple hospital blue mask, He then proceeded to pull a second mask from his pants pocket, which both agitated and actually confused the maskhole, to the older man’s amusement.
At this point the checker, also unmasked, asked him to let it go. I interjected and asked if I he is supposed to let go of assault? She said he just pulled a mask off, he didn’t hurt him. I said fine. Then if I get Covid, I will sue your store. Since you have no interest in protecting your customers from assault or respecting the requirement to wear a mask, you are on notice. She summoned a manager.
By this time that creep left. The older gentleman stayed calm. This was not his first mask rodeo.
The manager gave the standard apologies and explained it had been much worse in the past few days, but he did not know why mask wearers were being bullied more. I told him it is because the CDC changed their guidance, once again, that we need to wear masks indoors if we are in a high transmission area.
The manager walked with me to customer service to check on something and asked if we were in a high transmission area. I said we were. He said he had received no information about it but would ask management. He asked me how are we supposed to know if we are in a high transmission area.
I said there are lists online, and then he said perhaps the one thing that makes me reconsider the current effectiveness of personnel at the CDC: He said wouldn’t it be easier if we just said wear the masks indoors nationwide?
I said, Yes. It would. In fact we should all just assume we are in a high transmission area and wear the masks indoors. Then he looked downtrodden and sighed and said, I thought it would get better after, you know..we got a new guy in.
I told him well it is better if you are vaccinated. It sucks if you aren’t. How is Joe supposed to force vaccinations on people? He’s dealing with people in congress threatening to shoot a polite door knocker for reminding them about it and offering resources.
I asked him if he went for the vaccine. He said he had and that he thought that was the end of it.
I don’t know where the maskhole went. I guess he left.
Then I said goodbye went back to finish checking out, walked outside walked to my car and turned on the Sirius XM.
Have you ever just needed a tiny moment? You know, have you ever just walked to your car and not been ready to pull out and drive? That was me. I just had to let air conditioning roll over my face, a song play in my head, and take a breath.
The CDC effed this up. I am sorry but they absolutely did. At no point was telling people to stop wearing masks a good idea. We had little data on Delta, but we knew from India it could be more virulent and transmissible. We knew that. The problem was they were working under the assumption that like Alpha, spread among the vaccinated was unlikely. This turned out to be very inaccurate.
But I also echo the concerns of the manager. How are we supposed to know what high transmission areas are? I mean come on, there is reasonable, and there is just silly. We can’t expect a floor manager busy with inventory nightmares to have a running total of transmission rates in their head. That is an unreasonable expectation. And why such inconsistent guidance? Either we need to wear a mask or we don’t.
If people don’t vaccinate, eventually the whole country will be a high transmission area so why not mitigate risk and keep it simple? Why force a well-meaning grocery manager to explain to customers they should wear a mask based on the transmission rate of the area they are in? Just wear the effing mask.
Americans, by and large not renowned worldwide for their critical thinking, are not walking around carrying transmission data in their heads for the county they happen to be in. While in Maricopa county it is easier to know where you are at because AZ has so few counties, places like Missouri and Texas have a much higher number of counties, and I can promise you if I am travelling I would have no idea where Sandoval County, New Mexico started, for example.
So what will Americans do given the opportunity? Most of them will default to not wearing masks.
Clearly we have smart people in the CDC, and I am not disputing that. But we are missing something. We are missing an ability to market. Nobody expects a scientist to work on Madison Avenue and nobody expects an ad-exec to work in Atlanta charting a variant.
This is why I have come up with an idea: “Staying Alive The Sanjay Way.” This would involve the services of Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the brilliant telegenic chief medical correspondent for CNN.
I suggest asking Dr. Gupta to participate in public service announcements called “The Sanjay Way.” Very simple and easy to remember. “Mask up Vax up! Staying Alive The Sanjay Way!” Billboards, buses, commercials, radio, anywhere and everywhere, flood the zone with messaging. Of course it goes without saying that I have no idea if Dr. Gupta would want to participate in something like that. I would hope so. We need something to, uh, well pun intended, move the needle.
Here is a rough idea of how I envision it:
Of course this is just an idea. A thought in my head, a hope that maybe some slicker marketing could improve the situation as it stands. But people are confused, scared, and ultimately quite frustrated. We need clarity. We need leadership at the “reclined with beer in hand” level.
We need a face of this campaign. Paging Dr. Gupta, Dr. Sanjay Gupta..
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