Maskless in Walmart

I went on an outing this afternoon to Kroger and Walmart in Appomattox. I had been dreading the trip, because it was my first venture into the larger Coronaworld since Governor Ralph “Coonman” Northam issued his ukase making the wearing of masks mandatory in public places. Like all the other li’l Stalins, the rules don’t apply to Coonman, as he made plain in a now-infamous selfie taken with one of his fans in Virginia Beach a couple of weeks ago:

How’s that for social distance, eh?

Anyway, I needn’t have worried: masking was not being enforced at Kroger and Walmart. The Corona Hijab was much in evidence, however: About 85% of people I saw were masked. Nevertheless, the atmosphere was very relaxed, much more so than it was back in April, when fewer masks were to be seen. None of the mask-wearing people appeared to care whether anyone else was wearing a mask.

The mask seemed to be a signal of compliance with the new social norms, rather than the action of the fearful. It’s as if people were saying, “OK, I’ve done my duty and put my mask on. Now I can go shopping and behave normally.”

Social distancing was not well observed, as demonstrated by a little vignette in the produce section of Kroger. A young housewife wearing a mask was picking through the onions while I waited patiently at the prescribed social distance so that I could pick through the potatoes. A man, also masked, came up from behind and lightly bumped into the woman. She turned around, and exclaimed with pleasure: evidently they knew one another. They chatted for a couple of minutes, standing at the usual distance two good friends would use, maybe two feet (60 cm) apart. Then, when they said goodbye, the young lady playfully punched her friend on the shoulder.

All while masked. It’s a good thing no COVID patrols were nearby, or the two would surely have been cited for their heartless indifference to the health of others. And I also would have been cited, of course, for not wearing a mask — obviously, I wanted everyone around me to die.

Masks were a long time arriving out here in the boonies. A couple of months ago, when the hijab-rate in Whole Foods in Charlottesville was over 75% (it’s now close to 100%), there were very few masks to be seen here in the sticks. But today they were everywhere.

We lag behind in all social trends, so I expect to see masks on customers in Food Lion long after the fad has been abandoned in the big cities.

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One final note: Given the current state of race relations in the major cities, I wondered if I would notice any tensions in Appomattox. The “protesters” have been burning and looting in Richmond and Virginia Beach for several days, and there has even been property damage in Lynchburg, which is just a short drive west on US 460 from Appomattox.

But I experienced nothing out of the ordinary in my interactions with people in Kroger and Walmart. The population of the area is at least 50% black, and there were a lot of black employees and customers, especially in Walmart. All my exchanges with black people were cordial; employees were uniformly friendly. I saw no glares or sullenness directed at white people by black shoppers. Everything was completely normal, which was a relief.

I wouldn’t want to visit a Walmart in downtown Philly or Atlanta right now; it might not be a prudent move. But at least the situation is calm out here in the benighted hinterland. Perhaps not for long, but it’s OK for now.

It seems appropriate to quote Louis MacNeice again (from “The Hebrides”):

On those islands
Where no train runs on rails and the tyrant time
Has no clock-towers to signal people to doom
With semaphore ultimatums tick by tick,
There is still peace though not for me and not
Perhaps for long — still peace on the bevel hills
For those who still can live as their fathers lived
On those islands.

9 thoughts on “Maskless in Walmart

  1. Thanks for the field report. Just saw this:

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  2. It’s interesting to hear about “COVID-safe” practices being observed or not. Here in my neck of the woods (Penrith, Australia), there has been almost no observance. People hang out in groups, sit on benches, and queue up like they have always queued, ignoring the dots and X’s marked on the ground. Since the beginning of the “COVID-safe” campaign, the number of people i have seen actually observing social distancing could be counted on one hand. Masks are rare. We have had a few cases of the virus, but it has not spread like wildfire, like we get told it would.

    The Prime Minister appears on TV and talks about how social distancing has worked, and I’m thinking “Huh! How can it work when it hasn’t been done?” Another piece of clothing the emperor isn’t wearing.

    I am curious as to just how much the social distancing rules have been complied with in general. We hear stories on Youtube, but they are extreme cases.

    • Never knew there was a Penrith in Oz. My late father was born in Lazenby, near the (original, I presume) one in Cumbria; in the ’80s, my parents and I visited, and he charmed the current occupants of his childhood home into letting him have a look around.

      Not that I should criticise; two years ago, my beloved and I stayed with her son in Kendal, about thirty miles south; I’d been raised in and around there in 1957-63 and ’65-9, and this was my first return since my siblings and I cleared our late parents’ flat in early 2000. She was very patient when I wanted to see my ancestral homes, especially as it was raining (as it often does in the English Lake District). I noted the alterations my Dad had made, and was quite disappointed that none of the current occupants appeared so I could have a look around; so I guess I’m my father’s son!

  3. Despite luving under the rule of NC’s idiot governor Cooper, only one place I know of, Aldi’s, is requiring a mask. For some screwball reason, and against what Aldi’s corporate told me, that their policy was masks only if required by the local government, they decided to start this only a week ago. Why this late in the game us beyond me and beyond stupid. Aldi’s is my favorite grocery store but I will refuse to be a patron until they revert to normal, sane, adult life.

  4. It’s the same here in New Mexico. The tyrant in the Peoples Republic of Soviet Fe (Santa Fe) has mandate the wearing of masks in public. I don’t. I have gone to Lowes and Costco without a mask and had no problems. You might want to download the notice that is available at: https://www.barnhardt.biz/2020/05/15/the-card-is-working-coast-to-coast-plus-muzzle-in-the-bible/ You can print it from the Preview app in Windows. I selected the wallet size and set the count to 9 so it printed 9 wallet sized notices on a single page.

  5. I have a question about distancing and masks. This is at least a subtext of this piece. Since the radio stations I listen to, on the right, have the same general opinion on these two matters and I don’t want to be on hold for an hour and then elicit a negative reply and a quick hang up I thought I would raise it with folks from GoV who are no question decent enough to be willing to entertain an idea that isn’t necessarily in line with generally accepted opinion of people on the right.

    Why is it that many governors and mayors are (it seems to me at times) almost universally accused of being totalitarians for putting in place rules that they say will keep people safe? This makes them “liberals” or “fascists” that want to control everyone?

    Listen, if I were mayor, I would have gone to for example barbershops and hair salons, and jewelry stores, and said to owners, “can we keep masks on and keep distances of 6 feet apart so that we can get the stores, open? And perhaps there would have been other establishments as well. If I were mayor in NYC I would have done that and then had cops to make sure establishments were in compliance. Then we could have safety and some economic activity. Okay, I would be a better mayor than DeBlasio, no doubt. I would have said masks on until we were sure that what scientists said at the time was not incorrect. I mean something is spreading the virus, isn’t it? The answer about the regular flu being as bad as the coronavirus was no argument to attach your betting slip to, and may not even be now.

    I am writing this because it seems to me that this overall (I don’t mean people here) charge that all the governors and mayors, (with exceptions), are just power mad. Though of course you might say that in NYC where we have DeBlasio the Idiot, and Cuomo who hasn’t had the decency to admit his great fault in the Nursing Home scandal yet, are. I just find it hard to believe that so many of the governors and mayors, etc. even the Dems really are power mad. It sounds something like the charges they would make about us on the right, that for example we are racists.

    [And just for the record I despise Northrump (sp) and that witch in Mich. as well as a few others].

    Mike from Brooklyn

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