It’s been a tough 18 months for all of us.
COVID knocked us to our knees. Westporters lost jobs and businesses. Our kids lost the benefits of in-person school; adults became part-time teachers and full-time counselors. We all lost our sense of security; fearing at times for our lives, we wondered how the world had suddenly gone so askew.
Slowly, we’re emerging from the darkness. COVID is still here, and — particularly among the stubbornly unvaccinated — rampant. We’re learning to live with the pandemic.
But we’re gathering again, in all the places we used to, for work and commerce and pleasure. We’re dining and traveling. We’re welcoming newcomers to town, and their energy makes Westport even more vibrant and wonderful than it was before March of 2020.
Of course, we still have a long way to go. Just ask anyone in the service industry.
The other day, a friend described his recent experiences. He works locally. It doesn’t matter where. His experience is not unique.
He’s exhausted from asking people to wear masks — a mandate that lacks real enforcement power.
He’s tired of asking those with masks to wear them properly. Covering the neck — or even below the nose — will not help stem the virus’ spread.
He’s also tired of trying to change the behavior of the self-centered, pig-headed customers who come into his store. After 18 months, he realizes, they will not listen.
They won’t listen to Dr. Fauci. They won’t listen to the CDC. And they certainly won’t listen to him.
So when I asked him to write an “06880” story about his experiences as a front-line worker, he declined. It’s not worth it, he said.
The ones who are not helping corral the virus have a zillion reasons. “I’m vaccinated.” “I’ll let my immune system work for me.” “It’s my body. Don’t tell me what to do with it.”
The ones who need to read his words won’t, he said. And if they do, they won’t heed them.
They’ll just rage on, berating him and his colleagues. Mocking them. Putting his health in danger, and his nerves on edge.
He has no more strength to tell that story. So I’m telling it instead.
And now — like him in his store — I’ll wait for the abuse.