North Carolina rates of infection are on the rise. We are in the Bruised Red, Uncontrolled Category. This is alarming. We may not be in the Top 5 outbreaks in the Southern States, but we are inching there. Wherever we are, whomever we are, we are at risk. And, in the face of what we perceive as danger, our normal response — according to the mental health experts — is to either run away or fight.
These days, many of us are also in hiding. I should be in hiding because I’m a fighter with a loud voice. No amount of precautions help me. No mask wearing. No frequent washing and using hand sanitizer. No six-feet of social distancing. Mostly because others don’t adhere to the guidelines.
NC Governor Roy Cooper extended Stay at Home Orders on July 16 to August 7, 2020. This includes:
WHEREAS, in Executive Order No. 141, issued on May 20, 2020, the undersigned urged that all people in North Carolina follow social distancing recommendations, including that everyone wear a cloth face covering, wait six (6) feet apart and avoid close contact, and wash hands often or use hand sanitizer; to reduce COVID-19 spread.
I made a mistake today. I went food shopping mid-Sunday morning to the Harris-Teeter supermarket in my Durham neighborhood. Why? I promised to help a friend.
Most were behaving pretty well. Everyone was masked. I stopped to allow people to pass me and made a wide swing around others when there was space. There were definitely more people in the store than at 8 a.m. on Mondays and Thursday, The Senior Hour.
In Produce, I hovered around the potatoes, onions and squash eyeing the best before touching. Okay. I’m not Speedy Gonzalez. A late 20’s-something (hard to tell with the mask on) swooped in three inches from me to pick an onion.
Excuse me, he said, as he reached in front of me, body leaning in my direction.
I said, incredulously, What are you doing? You are supposed to stay six feet away!
I said Excuse Me, he said, and turned his back on me, setting off.
Excuse me doesn’t cut it, I screamed through my mask. Do you think he heard me. I kept shouting, You are supposed to stay six feet away.
He went to another aisle, stone faced. I noticed he had a very short cropped haircut, shaved close to the neck. I wondered if that meant anything.
How dare you? I continued across the expanse of strawberries, peaches and blueberries, as if that would help lower my anxiety. Everyone else stayed far away.
Now, I’m smarter than this. I should know better than to go out food shopping on Sunday, when Duke students are starting to return, when the weekend habit of procuring vittles is ingrained in many.
There would have been any number of online choices: Instacart has been a delivery mainstay with choices such as Sprouts, Fresh Market and Durham Food Co-op. I have also shopped for pick-up at Harris-Teeter and at Whole Foods. I reconciled my decision based on some specialty needs for my friend.
Meanwhile, I must forgive myself, do better to calculate risk and remember to #stayinhiding and #staysafe and depend more on available services. I must stay conscious.
Life depends on it.