No offense to my Philly friends, but there is one sure way we Southern New Jersey folk know you’re from Philly – you speak very loudly while talking to another very loud person on speaker phone and every other word is s**t or f**k and you’re most likely talking smack about a mutual acquaintance. A more recent way we knew where you were from is when our governor mandated everyone must wear a face covering in public. After your governor shut down all the liquor stores, y’all came to South Jersey to shop for booze. I watched too many of you angrily and rudely argue with store owners about wearing a face covering, but our store owners are united – no face covering, no service. Eventually, and thankfully, you got over it and now begrudgingly comply. I guess the thought of not having booze in the house while practicing social distancing for an indefinite period of time was one you could not endure. I get it.
I’ve also noticed a lot of you coming to New Jersey to grocery shop as well. I don’t blame you. The lines in Philly must be awful. It’s okay. Aside from your very loud talking, incessant speaker phone conversations, cussing and smack talking, you’ve become less angry and more respectful. We appreciate it.
I mention all this because of the experience I just had at the local Shop Rite. Due to its relative proximity to Philly, many of you have chosen to do your grocery shopping at this particular store. It’s okay. I’ve gotten used to your very loud speaker phone cussing smack talk. So, when I heard someone talking very loudly while scanning my groceries at the self-checkout register, I simply assumed it was one of you. Sorry.
Turning around, I saw three men walking shoulder to shoulder toward the exit, yelling at one another, the man in the middle not wearing a face covering and snickering under his breath. Not much social distancing going on there, which I found unusual because the staff at Shop Rite have been very compliant with state regulations. The one yelling the loudest I recognized as a manager. It was when he hollered, “GET THE F**K OUT OF MY STORE!” that I realized it wasn’t three employees joking around. I also figured out that the other employee was with security. Ultimately wedging himself between the customer and the manager before any physical damage was carried out, the security guard politely asked the unmasked customer to leave. The customer refused, threatening the guard bodily harm if touched. At this point, the guard informed the customer he could and would touch him if needed in removing him from the premises and proceeded to do so. That’s when voices grew louder, and I quickly finished my order and paid. If this guy was pissed off enough and had a gun, I didn’t want to be here if/when he retaliates. Some might consider my thought process irrational but it’s not. Every day I see these a**holes on the news, guys refusing to wear masks, carrying guns while standing on government property. Not irrational at all on my part.
I want to assume the customer was not from Philly; however, his behavior was reminiscent of what I’ve witnessed over the past two months – he was loud, angry and rude. I’m sick and tired of these anti-mask people. Shut the f**k up and just deal with it. As one employee pointed out, he’s been wearing a mask while working nine-hour shifts six days a week for the last two months, risking his own and his family’s health while thousands of customers swarm around him daily. From listening in on several other conversations between customers and staff, I’ve discovered the defiant customer somehow entered the store without a face covering. Finding his way to the back of the store, he was questioned by one of the butchers about not having his face covered. Stating he didn’t have a face covering, he was offered one free of charge, which he refused. The manager was asked to assist, at which time the defiant customer spat at him. Thankfully, the manager was wearing a face shield. This completely explains and justifies his angry outburst.
What point was this man trying to prove?
Sure, you’ve got the right to refuse to wear a face covering, but you better be ready for the consequences of not wearing one in public in New Jersey – I can’t speak for other states. The government isn’t asking you to cut off your limbs and shove them up you’re butt. They’re simply asking you to cover your nose and mouth for the few minutes it takes you to shop for groceries. It’s not an infringement of your civil rights or liberties. No one is being discriminated against – everyone must wear a face covering in public. Wearing a mask has nothing to do with free speech, invasion of privacy, remaining silent, unreasonable searches, fair courts, marriage or voting. You are simply wrong in your thoughts and actions.
Sure, it could be a hoax or some perverted conspiracy theory, but why take the chance.
And as for the confusion over the effectiveness of wearing a face covering? I’ve got one word: AIDS. This was a subject that came up often when the hubby and I talked about COVID 19 in the beginning. Even now, two months after shutting down, we still don’t fear COVID 19 as much as we feared AIDS. It was MUCH scarier folks. Even early on, we knew that coronavirus was similar enough to the flu virus that we had some idea of how humans might react to it and how it might mutate. We have people on this planet who can tell you firsthand about the first time something like this happened one hundred years ago, people who got it and lived to tell about it. COVID 19 has and will unfortunately provide these same stories. But for those of us who lived through the early years of AIDS, it was a completely different story.
After two decades of free love and parties, by 1981 gay men in America were dying from some “new infectious disease.” Over that first year, it was dubbed the “gay disease” or “gay plague” because only gay men were coming forward with symptoms – big sigh of relief from the heterosexual community, along with seriously profound discrimination toward the gay male community. Gay men were told to wear condoms and/or refrain from sexual activity, while the rest of us heteros continued with the free love party because we still had no idea how the disease was transmitted. That was just the first year…
By 1982, an elderly heterosexual male with hemophilia tested positive for AIDS, hundreds of other heterosexual hemophiliacs following in his footsteps. And then the female partners of the heterosexual hemophiliacs starting contracting the disease as well. Two years after the first case, we finally knew AIDS was somehow transferred through blood, not yet knowing about the possibility of other bodily fluids providing a conduit. By 1984 it was a pandemic. It was the scariest four years of my life. By 1985, we knew how the disease was transmitted, but that didn’t mean you were free.
Attempting to donate blood for the first time while attending college, I was informed I would never be able to donate unless a cure for AIDS had been discovered, simply because I had lived with a man who injected cocaine. Three decades later, there’s still no cure or vaccine. That event caused me to get tested. It was negative. However, at that point, some people were being tested twenty years after and coming up positive. I was doomed.
Because of my past, I tested again before marrying the hubby and before I got pregnant with the kid, both times coming up negative. I can (hopefully) say that I’m safe forty years down the road.
Just today, I learned that the first case of HIV/AIDS was diagnosed in 1959. I wasn’t even born yet. It didn’t affect me. I wasn’t scared…until those three different days in 1985, 1989 and 1998 when I got tested. From 1984 forward, I knew what to do and not do, but whatever happened prior was up for grabs as far as HIV/AIDS was concerned…for a decision I made 36 years ago. If I had known decades ago to have protected sex, I definitely would have complied. Sure, it was a choice, but why take the chance.
I can’t say that COVID 19 is more serious than HIV/AIDS because the hubby and I knew and buried one too many acquaintances affected by HIV/AIDS…for years. Coronavirus has been around since the 1960s. It, too, is nothing new. However, COVID 19 is a much more powerful virus than ever before and is proving to re-infect and mutate at surprising levels. I have friends whose family members have suffered and/or died from COVID 19. This is why the hubby and I have been talking about HIV/AIDS lately.
So, I say to that defiant man in Shop Rite and all his cronies, “None of us like wearing masks…just ask our illustrious president.”
But if you wanna shop in my town, you better put on that f**king mask.
“My posse in the Brooklyn wear the mask.
My crew in the Jersey wear the mask.
Stick-up kids doing boogie-woogie wear the mask.
Yeah, everybody wear the mask, but how long will it last?”
The Mask – Fugees