Conversations About COVID

It seems that everyone is talking about COVID.

I have definitely thought a lot over the last few weeks about what people are going to think of me in different parts of the country and that includes each states’ different reactions to vaccination, mask wearing, and social distancing. There are other things that I have thought about too :

  • In support of the Black Lives Matter movement, I purchased a couple of masks that may not be safe to wear in some areas simply because they show support for black lives and more broadly support for social rights activism {No Justice, No Peace}
  • I worked in the legal marijuana industry for nearly 7 years, I have a lot of hats and t-shirts that are marijuana related, I tend to smell like marijuana; and, unfortunately, it is still a federally illegal substance.
  • On the second half of my trip I will be traveling in a wagon that screams “I’m a dirty-liberal-hippy” to rednecks and screams “There could be valuables in here” to campground thieves. It will be almost entirely empty; but it looks like a home rather than like a camper and I worry about how that might change how people react to it.

This is probably how many… people… feel about the homeless drug addicts in Seattle that I don’t think twice about

In summation, I tend to make myself a target for anyone who might have pent-up anger about the recent election or about the general political turmoil that this country has been in for the last five years. I am privileged to be a tall-middle-class-white-male and those genetic privileges have led to others including educated, cultured, traveled, and more. Living in the Pacific Northwest with all of this privilege opened the gates for me to become an activist, go to protests, and participate openly in the discourse around social issues, environmental issues, food security and consumer protection issues and more without fearing for my life. But with all of my worldly travels (you can just hear the elitism) I don’t have experience in the deep south; and I am a little afraid to get said experience.

This is probably how many of the people I am referring to feel about the homeless drug addicts in Seattle that I don’t think twice about when I am out at all hours of the night walking the city because I know when it is okay to go certain places and if you stay out of their way they overall will stay out of yours.

‘Vagrants and hoodlums’ I am used to avoiding because you see them in every large city in every corner of the world. Whether it is Dublin, Bangkok, Granada, or New Orleans, I learned a long time ago that it is best not to wander around a big city staring at a map looking like a lost tourist. Keep your money in separate locations on your person. Don’t be flashy with your cash when you are making a purchase. Don’t get sloppy drunk. Don’t walk back alleys late at night.

What’s this all have to do with COVID?

I find myself really concerned that by wearing a mask in some areas or not wearing one in others I might cause a big stink that really is much ado about nothing.

I wear a mask every day to work, I wear it when I go to the grocery store, I wear it around my neck in the car just so that when I get out again I don’t have to remember to put back on. I feel that it is more important to make the elderly and other susceptible people comfortable that they won’t get sick than it is to make the politically confused anti-maskers comfortable that I won’t question their very sensitive opinions. So I plan to wear a mask almost everywhere that I go. But I do know that in some areas there will be people who look at me like I am making a political statement or might even think that I am an ‘anti-vaccer’ because I am wearing a mask. The latter I think is unlikely. The idea that someone would think that all people wearing masks are against getting a vaccination is pretty crazy. But I am vaccinated and so I expect that there will be a lot of areas where I won’t necessarily have to wear the mask – based on the state’s rules.

I do strongly suggest that anyone who plans to travel get vaccinated earlier rather than later. I got my second vaccine a few days before I was originally supposed to leave on the Big Road Trip and it has made me feel a lot less stressed about the situation. Think about how much time there will be between shots; but also consider how important it is to you to wait the 14 days after getting the second shot. For me, I didn’t think that it would be detrimental to leave right after getting the shot. At least I had it; and I still plan to wear masks. But now that things have gotten so, sooo, SOOOO delayed; I am actually glad that I have had the vaccine for the full time and can consider myself “Fully” vaccinated.

Essentially, I can wear a mask or not based on the social environment in an area and not worry about getting myself sick or bringing the virus back home and exposing people I care about to it. It will be interesting to research each state before I get there as if it was its own country. Right now, in many ways, we do feel like we are in entirely different countries.

Hopefully, I can get past my social anxiety and talk to some people at the various campsites to get a feel for the people in every area. Before working in the marijuana industry and before attempting to be a career activist; I got my Bachelors degree from the University of Washington in Anthropology; and at least when I am traveling I get to put more of the skills I learned to work.

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