A Guide To Being Kind To Strangers During COVID-19
I'm sick of saying how hard COVID-19 is. I'm sick of saying, "well that's 2020 for ya," or "what's going to happen next this year?" Mentality like that makes it seem like it's just this year that's tough on us, and that everything is going to be better in 2021. We know for a fact that getting back to normal regardless of what your political beliefs are is going to take a while. It's the hand we've been dealt, so we need to play it the best we can.
People are having a tough time mentally too. I know I've had my days and I'll be open enough to even tell you that I've reached out for mental health help myself. This was not easy for me. Despite everyone saying there is no stigma, you do have to come to the realization that deep down you have issues you need to work out. Admitting that is hard. COVID-19 doesn't necessarily have to cause those issues, but I know it can make it even harder to deal with them. There's the saying, "everyone you come across has their own battle they are fighting." It's true now more than ever, and I think it's time we remember that when dealing with other people, strangers included.
I had a confrontation today with a stranger that was not pleasant. I was standing in line next to another person. We were what I would have guessed about 6 feet apart, although I didn't have a tape measure. We were both wearing masks. He was a younger man probably in his late teens or early 20s. I checked out and as I was walking away he mumbled something involving profanity and "social distancing," implying I had been too close to him. I couldn't make out what he said and I wasn't sure if he was talking to me. I walked away and just shook my head slightly out of confusion. He then yelled after me "don't shake your head at me, *&$^%!" or something like that.
As I saw it I had two choices at this point. First, I could confront him and tell him that I wasn't invading his social distance space. Things could escalate at that point. Not something I want to deal with. Secondly, I could look at the situation, realize it's not a big deal and just walk away. Which is exactly what I did. You can't control what people do, but you can control how you react. This guy could be having a tough day. I'm guessing he's had a tough life up to this point from what I could guess, but who knows.
As I walked away I saw a security guard keeping an eye on him from a distance. I briefly thought I could mention something to the security guard about how he harassed me, but really what's that going to do? The security guard obviously knew this guy and had run ins with him before. I don't need to be a "Karen" as the phrase is now and tattle on him for being rude. Don't get me wrong, this guy was a real jerk. That doesn't mean that I need to be a jerk too. Kindness in this case was just letting it go.
The other day I was at the grocery store and saw a guy not wearing a mask when it was required. I didn't judge him. Maybe he has a medical reason he can't. Everyone he was with was wearing a mask. There could be a good reason. It's not my place.
A couple weeks ago I was over at someone's house helping move some furniture and they asked if I would wear a mask in their house. Absolutely, no problem. It doesn't bother me. I could tell she felt bad asking, and I felt bad that I had forgot it.
It comes down to respecting one another. Sometimes you have to be the one to take the high road. Don't put a label on anyone, they normally don't fit. It's sad to say but people just aren't respecting other people's beliefs in this trying time. This will be a period of history where we will look back and talk about how tough it was, and how we handled it. Wouldn't it be nice to say that you handled it with grace, kindness, and respect?