Is the new normal good enough?

At least in my small community, I am not so sure.

It has been a year since we had to hunker down because of COVID. Some of us have hunkered down more than others. Some areas have been more restricted than others.

And then there’s my neck of the woods, Southeast Missouri, where restrictions are laughed at. It’s basically the Wild West meets coronavirus.

I hear about friends in other places that have learned to adapt to social distancing, wearing masks, and only going out for essentials. But, when my family and I went to the Dollar Store this past week, I saw firsthand that isn’t the norm here.

In fact, my family is probably not the norm—if we go by this shopping trip. Only the workers there wore masks, and we had to distanced ourselves from others to even maintain personal space. The lack of masks concerned me, more for the protection of the workers than ourselves.

It has been two weeks since my husband and I had the second Moderna shot. So there’s a much reduced risk to us if others don’t wear masks. In fact, it’s more of a benefit to others if we wear them because we were vaccinated.

Regardless, the fact that the store had a “mask required” sign did little to encourage the other customers to show the same courtesy. And it’s unfortunate because these workers don’t have access to the vaccine yet because they aren’t in the current category to get the shots.

This was the first trip of ours into our small community, with less than 600 people. My 20 year old step-son has been our go-getter when we need anything nearby. But, emboldened by our relative protection, we took the chance to step outside our bubble.

The fact is that we have such a different perspective about COVID than many of our neighbors do. This only brings home my recognition that there’s two Americas. I talk about this phenomenon in my recent article, examining how this difference reflects a crisis in conscience.

I am not sure how we go forward as a community in which people don’t have the common courtesy to protect each other in such a simple way. Maybe the vaccines will help us limp through it. Maybe the lessening death toll will validate to others what they believe is the wisdom of this Wild West mentality. But, for me, it makes me feel a little bit safer to be at home. Not because as much for fear of infection. But because of the uneasy feeling I get that we aren’t all in this together.

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