Tuesday, April 14 – While the Working Class Socially Distance, Affluent Neighbourhoods are Speaking Moistly
By Kait Marcelle, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, USA
This week in my part of the world, we saw one thousand dollar fines, being enforced for anyone in public without a mask. Most of the counties around us are following suit. Here is where the two types of people diverge in this pandemic. To mask or not to mask, that is the question.
While in the more impoverished areas of town where I live and frequent, everyone has some type of face covering. I thankfully live about a block from a major craft store. However, there has been a fifty to hundred people long line waiting to get into the 25 max occupancy store at all times of the day. They have to make an employee stand at the back of the long line well before they close, turning people away, as there is no time to accommodate any more people. These employees are being worked to the bone, and you can tell. I want to give them a hug, but what good would that do. If I could afford it, I’d buy them lunch daily.
While waiting for my bulk fabric for mask-making to be cut, it seems as though one unlucky employee has been tasked with answering the nonstop phones. I mean, nonstop. 10 phone lines all full for the 30 minutes I waited there observing the chaos as I waited for my turn six feet away from everyone. The majority of the calls were responded to with “We apologize for any delay, we are filling orders as fast as we can. You will receive an email as soon as we have your order ready for pick up.” The times per day, they have to say that lately is astonishing.
Also, the way several callers treated her as you could hear the profuse apologies coming from someone who has no control over any of this. Please be kind. As people rush in, find their items, and begin waiting to leave, we start talking. There’s a sense of camaraderie. Social distance retreats by a few feet as people approach each other. They explain how to sew this and what to do with that. Still keeping distance, but watching the more experienced sewers who were demonstrating helpful tips to us, newcomers. Thank you. The sense of normalcy, and politely talking with strangers in a craft store was excellent for the moment it lasted. The people in line without masks are trying to find the materials to make them, and those in the line rocking their homemade masks are trying to make more for their community. This has been simultaneously heartbreaking, in a heartwarming way watching the communities come together.
As I’ve been driving locally (to only acquire supplies to make masks), I’ve noticed a different trend in some areas. When I’m passing through the more affluent areas, I was surprised to not see many masks, if any at all. Not only that, but I saw multiple neighbors patting each other’s backs, chatting by their mailboxes, in very close proximity.
Although this virus only happened a few months ago, I certainly already feel conditioned into our system of constant distance. So seeing people interacting so freely stuck out to me. Now, I have no idea what their actual story is. Maybe they assist each other families out of necessity, and they are already exposed to each other. Perhaps that was the only human contact they have for the day. I simply cannot disregard my penchant for noticing this was always in a higher socioeconomic situation than myself. Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation.
Personally, I hope I can endure anything else that is ahead of us, so I can be here for my loved ones. I’ve been relatively unaffected as far as the economy goes.
I have a small overhead and no children. My heart goes out to every person who has lost their job. To every person struggling to keep their head above water. Our social safety nets are failing. The people have been unable to get through to the unemployment channels for weeks now. What are they supposed to do? I wish there was something I could do for you.