I was sitting in my car in the Hy Vee parking lot waiting for my wife to return with the groceries. I was following my oncologist’s orders as I am particularly susceptible to the virus because of the cancer treatment I am undergoing. Apparently my immune system is being weakened by the infusions of radioactive fluid they are pumping into my system and which will do battle with the cancer cells. Hopefully the infusions will win the day. (I do wonder if those who doubt the veracity of science have ever had to entrust their lives to medical science.)

In any event, to while away the minutes I did an informal sociological study, checking to see how many of the customers going in and out were wearing their masks. It was about 50%, which I find disappointing — but not surprising. In the course of this study, two young women (in their 20s?) emerged from the store with their cart, stood in front of the sign telling everyone “one person per cart,” meandered off to their “muscle car” (as we used to call them) and loaded the car before taking off. Neither of them had a mask, of course. Apparently rules are for everyone else.

Soon after a very old woman emerged with a small cart which pretty much held her up as she walked very slowly to her van parked in the handicapped space reserved for older farts like her — and myself. She did have a mask, but she was also painfully slow of movement. After opening up the rear-end of her vehicle and unloading her small packages she stood there holding on to the cart and wondering where to put it. Soon a young man came along (with no mask) and she called him over and asked him to take her cart, which he did. That was nice of him.

The woman then struggled to climb into her van and sat there for at least three or four minutes adjusting things so she would be comfortable as she was driving the vehicle. After that time the door closed and she backed slowly out of her space and very slowly put the car into drive and crept out of the parking lot. She must have been well into her 90s.

And she still drives. Isn’t it wonderful?


13 thoughts on “Whatever

  1. Hugh, I had no idea you were undergoing cancer treatment and at a time like this. I’m so sorry to hear it. I can’t imagine. I’ve seen scenarios like the one you describe play out like that any number of times. But here in the cities, the surprising thing is that once Shelter at Home was changed to Safe at Home, almost everyone began wearing masks. Perhaps due to fear since things were opening up. It surprised me, but I was very glad to see it happening. Even outside some distance from others, people are wearing them (except of course for a few young people, who believe they’re invincible and don’t stop to think about those around them who may not be). Wishing you success with the treatment.

    • Many thanks. The young simply don’t stop and think. They are (generally speaking) wrapped up in themselves and unaware that even though the virus may not send them packing it may well send another person packing who just happens to be in the target demographic! It’s all a matter of being aware that there are others in the world who matter, not just others who please or displease the young person himself or herself. I have blogged about this endlessly and futilely, I suspect.

  2. Huge, I wish you well, and comfort re the Ca. Thank you for your blogs, and your “Alone” book. My love and respect for you and yours –
    Mike Fitch

  3. Dear Hugh … I must have missed something a while back, for I was unaware of your cancer and related treatment. I am so so sorry! I do hope the treatments will be successful and quickly, and that you don’t suffer too many side effects.

    People-watching reveals some of the quirks of human nature. I’m always amazed at the number of people who will cross the parking lot aisles while looking down at their phone, reading a text or texting themselves. As for the masks, I understand the need, so I simply stay home these days. My fear is that they will become a permanent part of our dress code, just as shoes or shirts. I hope not, else I will never be leaving the house again. Thumbs up to the senior lady who still does her own grocery shopping and still drives! Inspiring!

    Be well, my friend.

  4. Hugh- first off, good luck with your treatments and stay well. I am an asst. front end manager (not as glamorous as the title suggests) and we are starting to see more people everyday come in without masks. This has caused obvious fear to our customers who are committed to wearing a mask, and rightly so. Everyday we hear it from both sides, this week I’ve been called stupid, the gestapo (I never helped Hitler in this or any other life), but most disturbing, one of my fellow managers was attacked and sprayed with pepper spray by someone who wanted to defend their right to go unmasked. I’ve also had a customer threaten to turn me in to the CDC and OSHA because she was a nurse and she knew the law and we were violating it by letting people in without masks. What is not being understood by the mask set is that there are loopholes in the mandates that allow customers to go unmasked. All a customer has to do is claim they have a breathing problem, and there is nothing we can do to stop them at the door. We also have a full-service pharmacy and we sell food, both are loopholes in our guidance from the state. Our store has now said they do not want us to question people not wearing masks for fear of other attacks on employees. From day one of this pandemic, it has always been about many people who are only worried about themselves, from hoarding all the way up to our mask/no mask debate. Coronavirus has highlighted many of our weaknesses including lack of empathy, in some ways our greed, and in many ways the weakness of our leadership. Be well.

    • Thanks for the comment — and for the good wishes. But I cannot add anything to what you have said: reality is indeed stranger (and more disquieting) than fiction.

  5. Hugh, best wishes to you first and foremost. I was unaware of your challenges, so thanks for letting us know. Thanks for this informal survey. I am not surprised, but would have hoped it might tilt a little more to the mask wearing. Unfortunately, I think our country is going to find out a pandemic risk cares not what politicians say and numbers will uptick. Of course, the president says it is due to more testing (which is its own indictment of his lack of leadership), which it likely is in part, but the story is more exposures mean more risk.

    Take care of you, my friend. All the best. Keith

    • Many thanks, Keith. Things seem to be going along well. We shall see. But I don’t hold out much hope for this country as far as the pandemic goes: we aren’t famous for self-restraint and we can already see people straining at the bit, pretending that things are OK.

  6. Better to talk about the Hyvee than politics . Linda is out at the grocery with her mask on . I hope your treatments are working . Stay safe . As Always your basketball player , Ric PS . Did you see the picture of the folks at the beach at the Jersey shore ?

    • I did not see the picture, but the way the young are treating this virus is most upsetting. They seem oblivious to the fact that they may carry the virus to someone they love who is vulnerable.

  7. Loved your post which shared the words written by your son’s coworker. I enjoyed picturing you in the car while your wife was shopping, but of course concerned about your own private battle – in addition to ‘dodging that invisible virus enemy.’ Sending you strong vibes from Ecuador.

    Am working on a post which will include a link to the other post.. just never enough on line time!

    Two pm curfew as passed and I’d best scram home pronto.

    Love, Lisa

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