Underneath my yellow skin

My empathy bowl is empty

Was reading my stories (AAM being the main) and there was a question about what to do when your boss was wearing his mask wrong (under the nose). I ran into this when I went to the gas station. An employee was wearing her mask under her nose. I just stayed away and got out as quickly as possible. I know I could have told her to pull it up, but it’s a young woman working a low-paying job. I had my mask on and I was only in there for five minutes. I wasn’t going to add to her already shitty day. However.

If I were in an office where I didn’t need to be and my boss did this? Yeah, no. That would be all kinds of no. There were stories in the comments about people knowing Covid deniers (some of them coworkers) who then got Covid and they (the commenter) having a hard time having any compassion for the person. It reminded me of a question to Dear Prudence from someone whose relatives, want to say brother and sister-in-law, who were avid Covid deniers, spread misinformation, and wouldn’t social distance or wear masks. The LW (letter writer) was pissed because her brother had set up a GoFundMe when he, his wife, and all their children got Covid. He wanted LW to donate and send it around. She was furious and unloaded some righteous anger in her letter to Danny. LW said not only did she not want to give her brother money or send around his request, she had no compassion for him for getting Covid. I don’t even remember her question–probably something about should she do it, anyway? That doesn’t matter because it’s the response I want to focus on.

Danny, rightly so, took the LW to task for being vindictive in her response. He said that it wasn’t the fault of the population that the government has fucked this up so badly and people were confused. This was a few months ago, I hasten to clarify, when information about what to do wasn’t quite as obvious as it is now. Danny also said that wanting someone to pay with their life was cruel no matter the person’s behavior beforehand. He said no one deserved to get Covid for their beliefs/behaviors.

Danny was right. He took the high road. That said, I was and still am on the LW’s side because I’ve reached the point where I’m fucking vindictive, too. When I read in AAM about the coworker who was a denier getting Covid, my reaction was a vicious, “good”. I’m not proud of it. I don’t think it’s a good thing, but I’m not going to deny that’s where I am right now. First of all, at this point, we know what works and what doesn’t. We know that social distancing and masks do cut the rate of infection by an appreciable amount. We know that being crowded inside is worse than being spread out outside. This is not fucking rocket science, but it is science–which we’ve allowed too many Americans to dismiss as just another opinion.

Do I want people to die for their stupidity? No. Would I be outrageously sad if they did? Also no. If a Covid denier could get Covid without it having an impact on other people, I would be fine with that. It’s only because it has such an outsized effect on the people around them (health providers, neighbors, friends, family, retail workers, etc.) that I care at all. It’s really hard to be someone who’s locked herself up for eight months and doing the very best I can to reduce the risk, only to watch others caper around like there isn’t a global pandemic happening. What’s even worse is that some of them aren’t content with just doing that–no, they have to loudly declare how stupid Covid is, that it’s a hoax, and we’re getting taken by ‘the man’ or whatever.

Then when the inevitable happens and they get the coronavirus, then they want help? Fuck to the no. Blah blah blah compassion, I know, but the compassion has gone one way for far too long. I’ve had to hear over and over again how my life doesn’t matter–being high risk–and that people like me should just never see the light of day again so that everyone else can go get their overpriced Bud Lite at the local bar. To hear how people like me are impinging on everyone else’s freeeeeeeedumbs because water is blue or whatever. Then, I’m suppose to show compassion when they get sick? Fuck no! Compassion is a two-way street. Expecting one side/person to always be compassionate when they are not receiving it in return only breeds resentment. In addition, it’s a great way to allow a cycle of abuse to continue. In fact, it’s a method of assuring complicit behavior that is abusive.

I will say, I have sympathy/empathy for people who are following the rules but are just so tired of the isolation. It’s hard. It’s fucking hard. We’ve not done anything like this, at least not in my lifetime. It’s hard not to be able to see people you know and love, and worse yet, not to know if/when you will see them again. It’s tempting to think, “This one time won’t matter.” “We’ll be really safe about it.” “None of my family have been exposed to the coronavirus.” Hell, the last time my brother was over, he forgot his mask in the car. I told him it was OK (and it probably is), but, really, he should have gone back to the car and put it on. I just made sure to remain at least ten feet away from him the whole time as he’s the only way I’m going to get Covid. Or at least the primary way. I still think we have to come down harder on our restrictions, but at least I get this impulse of weariness.

It’s the deniers for whom I have no compassion or empathy. At this point, you’re being willfully ignorant¬† if you’re denying Covid. If you get Covid, then that’s the logical conclusion for your behavior/beliefs. Again, I’m not proud of this, but this is where I’m at. At this point, I’m just giving what I get.


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