Patriot Dispatches

The Mask and Minding Other Peoples’ Business

I finally got a haircut. On a Sunday. I started going there about a year ago after I’d closed my office so never drove by my old two-chair barber of 15 years anymore. This new place has about 20 chairs, although I never saw more than three people in there, and that was the beauty of it, because they opened at 7 AM, and was open on Sundays.

So this Sunday, their third day open after an 8-week mandatory hiatus, I arrived 10 minutes early and there was already a line of about 10, all older men and women. (And I’m 74 btw.) All were masked, but me. The door sign read “Masks Required” and I had brought mine, but I had never worn it, and didn’t intend to until I went inside. This is America out here. A young woman with a tablet came out and in turn we gave her a phone number, so she could call us in our car, then scanned our foreheads with a thermometer. “45 minutes” she said, and I went back to the car, which was in a large grocery store parking lot, only closed for repairs, so almost empty.

You can often tell who the snitch-biddies are, as they’ve never changed since they used to hang out after services in front of our church 65 years ago. At the 30-minute mark I walked over toward the door and there were two ladies, 70ish, one about 10 feet to the left of the front door, and the other about 10 feet to the right. Both were masked, and they even talked to one another, only never got any closer. I stood in the parking lot about 15 feet away, directly in front of the door, only I held my mask in my hand.

I wondered what would happen if I moved in closer, as a test to see if either would move or warn me off. I’ve heard stories of some real rip-snorters in similar situations around the country. Knowing what I’d say about sidewalk rules versus indoor rules, I considered risking it. But my courage left me, so I never knew if they had the “Mind other peoples’ business” (MOPB) biddy-gene or not. Then the young girl came out and waved me inside, so I put my mask on and walked in. My barberette was waiting for me and ushered me to her chair. I think there were three other chairs occupied.

Dannie had cut my hair before, 40ish, home schools two kids, 9 and 15, husband in construction, so the lock down didn’t hurt them too badly. First crack out the bat, she said she needed to rearrange my mask straps in the back so as to get to my hair. Duh.

And in the mirror I saw she’d pulled her mask down so I could understand what she was saying. So I sez, “Why don’t I just take it off…if that’s okay with you?” Boom, hers came off in a flash, and my mask was in my jacket pocket inside three seconds. We got the essential preliminaries out of the way in a hurry.

“We can’t suggest you take off the mask, but if you suggest it, it’s off.” When I left I did not see a single barberette wearing a mask.

Dannie explained their protocols: The client decides, but he has to bring it up. That way no one in that room feared anyone else in that room. The only new reality was that if the client wanted to wear the mask, she had to bow to those fears, and make do. (I can’t imagine a woman getting her hair cut with a mask on.)

That means the posing outside the front door is for the benefit of the “viewing public”. They did have competitors in the neighborhood, plus there are the political MOPD’s, nosy snitches, just looking for some rule breaker, so they could dox a business hair salons a favorite target) by shaming them on Facebook or Twitter. Several cars did drive by, but all they saw was that everyone stood, masked (except me) and 10 feet apart, all according to state edicts. Minding other people’s business had become political sport.

The fact of wearing or not wearing a mask doesn’t bother me. I’d lived in cultures where a face mask and a cold went hand-in-glove, a sign of good manners. But in America a handkerchief or tissue has always sufficed. Besides, Japanese working class people had no pockets or purses. But that was1972. Today we have raised an entire generation in America to be afraid of their own shadows so it only stands to reason that their first knee-jerk reaction would to be afraid when the government health department said “Be afraid.”

Only time will tell if this may not be the best thing to happen to them, for with that mask and that really awkward, unnatural 6′ space, a lot of them will see the silliness of it all, and maybe even begin piecing things together all on their own. It doesn’t mean they’ll vote for Trump, but they may grow up better people. That second thought, acquired by self-examination, is worth more than a thousand “I toldja so’s” by our side’s biddies who also go around minding other people’s business.

An yes, we have them, too. I see them daily on Twitter. I just haven’t figured out how to wash their mouths out with soap online, but it’s a work in progress.

What I do know is that while millions may want to wear masks now, and some maybe even forever, out of a fear that really won’t materialize in their lives, most will simply drop it. But that mask will always be in their glove compartment.

What I do know is: That’s none of my business. This is America.

So I like the common sense rules of my haircutting place. The customer decides inside. The law and necessary business practice apply outside.

The Future of “Social Intercourse” and the Mask

The above short tale describes how private company action and personal choice can become intertwined when the state injects itself into the hook-up..

In the coming months a lot of things will change…but in the end, by the voluntary choice of citizens. For many people “fear” will be among the deciding factors, and we can’t do a thing about that. But quite a bit of social friction will resurface in new ways because of that ancient practice of “minding other people’s business”, just like the church biddies of old, only, if you visit Twitter or you own Facebook timelines, you’ll notice that the MOPB practice is alive and well in every age group and every political persuasion. And it existed long before the ChinaFlu found its way to our shores in November 2019-January 2020.

We need to be mindful of the difference between government action, company action on their own property and private action by citizens, who ultimately have the final say as to whether they will continue to distance themselves 6′ from others, or will continue to patronize businesses that require a mask.

A lot of private companies will wager (invest) money that people will choose in one way of the other. Likewise, states and local governments, depending on their political worldview, will continue to attempt to drive down, e.g., church attendance, church schools that are still attempting to teach children, and of course, small unaffiliated small business who litter sidewalk shops across America. Blue governors and blue mayors and their blue city councils view these kinds of people differently than reds. New York state seems to have an indifference toward the health of its senior citizens, deeming them expendable, while New York City seems to turn its headlights on its Jewish population, forgetting their cultural memory teaches similar discriminations against forefathers in Europe just three generations ago.

Even reds; Texas has its Austin and Dallas, Georgia its Atlanta and Ohio its governor.

Some governments will attempt to hold onto however much of the new control they have gained, for emergency power once gained is rarely handed back quickly or easily. To government and its bureaucracies emergency power is always a first toe in the water.

But in the end it will all come down to the individual choices of the citizens, for those governments will have to stand election and face accountability at the next election, and no politician likes an election when the populace is angry.

So it will be the people, in their individual capacity as free citizens, who will decide how they will choose to rearrange their personal social networks…But often, as mentioned, with the assistance of those little whispers in their ears from the MOPB biddies who talk to them daily on social media. They could be students under 25, married-with-kids parents in a suburb, professionals, time-clock employees, or struggling small business operators. Some have been educated as snowflakes at State U or Denison, and therefore might therefore lean toward The Mask as a permanent dress accessory. Or then again, The Mask may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back as they see the institutional “snowflake process” for what it always was, and actually decide to (re)join the human community….down at TGI-Fridays on Lady’s Night, where that damned mask gets in the way of just about everything they do there.

I have the sneaking suspicion from my trip to the hair salon, that while my blue state is pushing for some higher level of control the people are pulling even harder away from it. In the end, it will not be the executive powers of the governor’s office that will limit how people may interact in public. That power will ultimately fall on individual choices.

Over the past few years, all sorts of businesses and brands have failed, or are failing, or just losing money and market share, simply because they tried to make special accommodations for flag-and-national anthem haters or even transgenders. It will be the same with this silly 6-foot rule. Customers who insist on that as a pre-condition for patronage will have to go where a Safe Place restaurant, bar, video game arcade, etc can be found, created by an entrepreneur who think he or she can make a profit catering to them exclusively. A niche market.

Just don’t look for these failures to be noted on social media, or any other type of media.

Only their few successes.

In the meantime, life will go on more or less as before…if we mind the business of social intercourse we can do something about, and quit whining about those citizens we can’t do anything about by minding their business for them. The state will be odd-man out.

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