Part III: Acclimating to Land Life

I went to get a gallon of milk and realized as I went to pay I didn’t know if I could use cash or if it had to be with a credit card. This was my first time buying something in person from someone since this pandemic started. I didn’t know the protocol. Suddenly in the town that I grew up in I felt as if I was visiting a foreign country and I wasn’t familiar with their customs.

I had gotten into the habit of paying with cash at local businesses a long time ago. Credit cards fees are expensive. But, should I pay with cash? If I pay with cash she’ll hand me back change and that change will have her germs. She took my cash and gave me back my change. I put it in my wallet and then used the hand sanitizer I was carrying in my pocket.

I was driving and saw someone driving by themselves with a mask on. Should I still have my mask on? Did they just forget that theirs was on? Am I a hypocrite for being upset with people not wearing their masks but I took my mask off in the car? I then figured she probably either forgot she was wearing it or someone else that is near and dear to her often rides in that car and she wants to spread as few germs in the car as possible.

While I haven’t ventured out much since my quarantine ended I am so acutely aware of every single person that I am in any sort of contact with. On the ship I knew that everyone onboard was healthy. On land, any single one of them could be the person that came into contact with someone else that had it. They could have it and give it to me and I could give it to someone else. And all of this could happen with none of us knowing until it gets to their great-aunt who brings it into her nursing home and then all of a sudden inadvertently there is a hot-spot that, while it would never end up being contact traced all the way back to me, is, in fact, my fault.

Is this what it has felt like for all of you for the last nearly four months? Holy hell. It’s a lot of fear to be living with. Or, am I overly sensitive to freaking out about it because of how crappy cruise ship employees (and seafarers in general) have been treated in this so I figured that everyone else must be taking it seriously?

And, I mean. I get it. It’s summertime. You want to be out playing and having fun. Aside from all the ways that life is totally and completely not normal right now, it could feel kind of normal. But, erm, umm… isn’t this thing still going on?

This seems like where it gets hard. Vermont was just listed as one of only four states that are considered to be “doing enough” to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. I put “doing enough” in quotations because wearing a mask or face covering isn’t mandatory. Additionally, I just got done my quarantine and not one person, not one time, in any way, shape, or form checked to see if I was quarantining. They didn’t check to see if I had symptoms. They didn’t call. Nothing. Right now there are restrictions on who can come into Vermont from other states without having to quarantine, but for those that need to quarantine it is entirely on the honor system.

So, while we might be “doing enough” and we might have low numbers, it seems like it is putting a lot of faith in a lot of people that you don’t know. Plus, without increased testing, there could be those asymptomatic unbeknownst-to-them assholes that got your greant-auntie sick, remember her? Just because your town doesn’t currently have any active reported cases doesn’t mean they aren’t there and doesn’t mean that you can’t get sick.

Normally re-acclimating to land life is a very busy (and often expensive) few weeks of going out to eat/going to people’s houses/having people over for dinner to see friends and family when I get home. This time it is jumping into a whole new set of societal standards half way through. It’s like I am Cady Heron and living normal life in society is like the high school in Mean Girls where she shows up half way through a school year and doesn’t know the rules.

What are the unwritten rules, now? What are the faux pas? Are people nicer or meaner at the grocery store? What do you say to someone not wearing a mask?

As someone just jumping into this land based mess of a coronavirus world, what advice would you give me?

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